After the sudden death, wildcard games the MLB playoffs move on to the Division Series with the eight remaining teams fighting it out over five games. Off the back of four winners in the wildcard round, Ben Steele previews tonight's games.
"The 35-year-old has been exceptional since joining New York, he is 7-0 in the famous pinstripes and has had success against Boston at Fenway Park. Happ's dominant performances, coupled with the hitting power the Yankees have available makes them a good value bet in a series that will likely go all the way to a fifth game. "
Pitching duel points to tight first game
The defending champions Houston Astros open up the defence of their title with Justin Verlander on the mound looking to repeat last season's playoff heroics. He faces Corey Kluber, a pitcher who won 20 games this season as he helped Cleveland to their third straight AL Central title. Both men displayed their ability to control opposing hitters, helped in part by a pair of defensive units that are two of the most efficient in the league.
With runs at a premium the Astros will hope George Springer is as productive as last term. Springer has had success against Kluber during his career, so could well be the key to Houston starting their playoff run with a win. Look for Verlander and the Astros to edge out Kluber in a tight game that should come down to the wire.
Brewers bats will power them to a commanding lead
The Milwaukee Brewers leant on their bullpen last night as they edged out a walkoff win in Game 1 of their series with Colorado. Searching for a 2-0 lead in a best of five series, Milwaukee will be happy to see Tyler Anderson taking the mound for the Rockies tonight. Anderson's last appearance at Miller Park saw him struggle to keep a lid on the Brewers' bats as he conceded seven runs in just four innings before being replaced.
MVP frontrunner Christian Yelich has already hit a home run in the series and will lead the line for Milwaukee again tonight with the like of Ryan Braun and Jesus Aguilar also a threat to blow the game open at any opportunity. Brewers starter, Jhoulys Chacin will be making his first postseason start and will need run support as he is starting off the back of just three days' rest. Expect runs, with Milwaukee putting themselves in pole position to advance to the next round.
Yankees happy to lead with Happ
The biggest rivalry in baseball adds another playoff meeting to its storied history tonight as the New York Yankees, fresh from a comfortable, wildcard victory over Oakland, head to Boston to take on the Red Sox. The Yankees plan to start Luis Severino against the Athletics so they could use ace J.A. Happ twice in this series worked perfectly and, facing Chris Sale, Happ will need to be at his best.
The 35-year-old has been exceptional since joining New York, he is 7-0 in the famous pinstripes and has had success against Boston at Fenway Park. Happ's dominant performances, coupled with the hitting power the Yankees have available makes them a good value bet in a series that will likely go all the way to a fifth game.
Kershaw the key for Dodgers
The LA Dodgers surprised a lot of people by picking Hyun-Jin Ryu over Clayton Kershaw to start Game 1 last night; but the move paid off handsomely as Ryu blanked Atlanta and LA ran out easy winners. Now, the Dodgers turn to Kershaw. The Texan is one of the most dominant pitchers of his generation and will be heavy favourite to win his fifth straight NLDS start, backed by several inform hitters.
The Dodgers have picked up the win in Kershaw's last eight starts and will hope to extend their series lead tonight, expect Max Muncy and Joc Pederson to provide the run support with Yasiel Puig and Manny Machado waiting in the wings if those two fail to repeat last night's performance.