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Cubs/Nationals

In a battle of opposites, the defending World Series champions are taking on a team that, despite consistent regular-season success, has never won a playoff series. The Cubs and Nationals are tied at 1-1 in this bout, though, as they head to the Windy City for Game 3.

Washington Nationals (Max Scherzer) at Chicago Cubs (Jose Quintana), 4:08 PM ET

PECOTA odds of winning: 53% Cubs, 47% Nationals

Projected Starting Lineups

Nationals vs. Quintana (L)

Cubs vs. Scherzer (R)

Trea Turner (R), SS

Jon Jay (L), CF

Bryce Harper (L), RF

Kris Bryant (R), 3B

Anthony Rendon (R), 3B

Anthony Rizzo (L), 1B

Daniel Murphy (L), 2B

Willson Contreras (R), C

Ryan Zimmerman (R), 1B

Ben Zobrist (S), 2B

Jayson Werth (R), LF

Kyle Schwarber (L), LF

Matt Wieters (S), C

Jason Heyward (L), RF

Michael Taylor (R), CF

Addison Russell (R), SS

Max Scherzer (R), SP

Jose Quintana (R), SP

Injuries/Availability

Both clubs are functionally healthy going into this one, with the only availability concerns coming from relief usage on Saturday. Carl Edwards Jr. threw 21 pitches while allowing three runs two days ago, but he should be ready to go on Monday if called upon. On the other side of the ball, Matt Albers spent 25 bullets over 1 1/3 innings of work, but he’s likely to available out of the bullpen as well. The other six relievers used on either side threw under 20 pitches, meaning both clubs should have full bullpens for their Monday matchup.

Joe Maddon is shaking up the Cubs' lineup, using Jay in the leadoff spot and Zobrist batting fifth at second base, with Javier Baez on the bench.

Outlook

The Cubs will start their biggest trade acquisition, hoping the prospect haul they gave up will be worth it. "Rescued" from the White Sox, the newly added Quintana has yet to make a playoff start in his six-year big-league career, an ominous sign considering the performance of other starting pitchers in their postseason debuts this season. That said, the 28-year-old Quintana isn’t quite the fresh-faced Luis Severino, and Joe Maddon has thrown his full confidence behind the southpaw.

Despite having a bit of a down season, the former White Sox hurler remains talented as ever, striking out batters at a career-high rate this season while showing excellent control with the Cubs. He was money in September, slicing his 5.73 August ERA down to a 2.51 mark, and his penultimate start was a shutout. He has struggled a bit at Wrigley Field, though, with a 4.76 ERA at home and 2.54 ERA away.

Taking the rubber for the Nationals is the best of the best, Cy Young award frontrunner Max Scherzer. The story remains the same for Scherzer in 2017: he’s one baseball’s elite arms, liable to shut down any lineup on any day. Scherzer hasn’t been quite as special in the postseason, but his 3.74 ERA in 74 2/3 innings (12 starts) is nothing to sneeze at. The 33-year-old exited his last start after just 3 1/3 innings following a minor hamstring injury, but is expected to be good to go on Monday evening.

It’s hard to bet against Scherzer, even if he’s pitching away from home and coming off an injury. Simply put: if he’s on, it’ll be nearly impossible to beat. At the same time, the electric Quintana has the talent to match Scherzer, so we could be in for a pitchers' duel despite an October of offense.

Dodgers/Diamondbacks

The Dodgers are looking like The Best Team in BaseballTM early on in this postseason, as they’ve pinned the Wild Card-winning Diamondbacks down 0-2 in the best-of-five series. A win away from moving on to the NLCS, they’ll send deadline acquisition Yu Darvish to the mound against former rotation stalwart (and current Arizona ace) Zack Greinke.

Los Angeles Dodgers (Yu Darvish) at Arizona Diamondbacks (Zack Greinke), 10:08 PM ET

PECOTA odds of winning: 51% Dodgers, 49% Diamondbacks

Projected Starting Lineups

Dodgers vs. Greinke (R)

Diamondbacks vs. Darvish (R)

Chris Taylor (R), CF

David Peralta (L), LF

Corey Seager (L), SS

Ketel Marte (S), SS

Justin Turner (R), 3B

Paul Goldschmidt (R), 1B

Cody Bellinger (L), 1B

J.D. Martinez (R), RF

Yasiel Puig (R), RF

Jake Lamb (L), 3B

Curtis Granderson (L), LF

A.J. Pollock (R), CF

Yasmani Grandal (S), C

Daniel Descalso (L), 2B

Logan Forsythe (R), 2B

Jeff Mathis (R), C

Yu Darvish (R), SP

Zack Greinke (R), SP

Injuries/Availability

With both teams healthy, we’ll just have to keep an eye on the bullpen. The two arms to watch on the Diamondbacks’ side of things are relief ace Archie Bradley (40 pitches in Game 2) and Jorge De La Rosa (36), who may be on shorter leashes given their heavy workloads two days prior. The Dodgers are in better shape, with only Kenley Jansen (18) throwing more than 10 pitches out of the bullpen on Saturday.

Outlook

Greinke’s 2017 postseason got off to an inauspicious start when he gave up four runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Rockies in the Wild Card game. While he was bailed out by his club’s offense, the veteran was far from thrilled following the game and, notably, headed straight to the weight room while the rest of the team celebrated the victory. Primed for his second start of October on regular rest, Greinke has 10 starts on his postseason resume, carrying a 3.92 ERA in 62 innings. Despite finishing his season a bit slowly, Greinke put together an excellent 2017 campaign, striking out nearly 10 batters per nine innings while recording a 3.20 ERA.

The Dodgers will look to finish off Arizona with their big return of the 2017 trade deadline: Darvish. The strikeout artist has two postseason starts in his career, giving up a total of eight runs in 11 2/3 innings. Following back-to-back five-run outings with the Dodgers to begin September, Darvish allowed just one earned run in his final three starts to finish off a strong (and healthy) 2017.

Another matchup featuring marquee pitching, how Greinke responds to his disappointing Wild Card start will be key in this game. With his team against the wall and facing an excellent arm, this game will rest squarely on the former Dodger’s shoulders. His dominance at home (2.87 ERA) this season is promising, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see Arizona stay alive for at least one more game.

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reznick
10/09
451% to 49%? (Typo, or more subtle joke.)