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MLB Playoffs Daily: NL joins in for full four-pack of division series showdowns

The unprecedented level of mayhem we saw in the wild-card round of the MLB playoffs — eight games on one day?! — was fun and all, but in terms of being able to digest a jam-packed day of postseason action, a quadrupleheader is just fine, thank you.

That’s what we have Tuesday, with all four division series in play. The National League series openers serve as the endpoints — Braves-Marlins first, Dodgers-Padres last — with the American League series playing Game 2s in between.

Here’s everything you need to get ready: game matchups, odds, a steaming hot take and more.

Key links: Preview | Predictions | Schedule, bracket | Playoff Baseball Classic

What’s on tap

All times Eastern; all series best-of-five played at neutral sites

Game 1: No. 6 Miami Marlins (Sandy Alcantara) at No. 2 Atlanta Braves (Max Fried), 2:08 p.m. in Houston

Both the Braves and Marlins face significant questions about the depth of their starting rotations, which makes it that much more important for them to win when one of their top pitchers is on the mound. Game 1 qualifies, as Atlanta tabs Max Fried, who was 7-0 with a 2.25 ERA in the regular season and blanked the Reds for seven innings in the Wild Card Series, and Miami turns to Sandy Alcantara, who allowed one run over 6 2/3 innings against the Cubs and had a 1.19 WHIP in the regular season. Neither team wants to waste this opportunity.

Game 2: No. 6 Houston Astros (Framber Valdez) at No. 2 Oakland Athletics (Sean Manaea), 4:37 p.m. in Los Angeles

Well, that looked like the 2019 Astros in Game 1 — not the team that averaged 2.5 runs in 10 games against the A’s in the regular season. It was a tough loss for Oakland, which turned a 5-3 lead over to the best bullpen in the game and saw it allow seven runs in five innings. Bob Melvin shouldn’t deviate from his strength and should have a quick hook with starter Sean Manaea. The Astros counter with Framber Valdez, who tossed five scoreless innings in a relief outing against the Twins.

Game 2: No. 5 New York Yankees (Deivi Garcia) at No. 1 Tampa Bay Rays (Tyler Glasnow), 8:10 p.m. in San Diego

After losing Game 1, the Rays have to feel good with Tyler Glasnow getting the start. They’ve won the past nine games he started, including a playoff win over the Blue Jays. Also in that stretch was a game against the Yankees in which Glasnow tossed six scoreless innings, allowing two hits with nine strikeouts. The Yankees surprisingly are going with 21-year-old rookie Deivi Garcia, with Masahiro Tanaka slated for Game 3. Advantage: Rays.

Game 1: No. 4 San Diego Padres (TBA) at No. 1 Los Angeles Dodgers (Walker Buehler), 9:38 p.m. in Arlington, Texas

The NL’s pair of powerhouses get their series underway with the Padres leaving their announcement of a Game 1 starter as late as possible as the San Diego brass mulls how it can get an advantage that might carry deeper into the matchup. Can Fernando Tatis Jr. and the young Pads add a new kind of pain to the Dodgers’ litany of October disappointments? Or will the eight-time NL West champs dispense with their new rivals in their quest to earn their first World Series title since 1988?

Updated odds for every series

Projections courtesy of ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle.

Astros-A’s (HOU 1-0): Astros 61.1% to advance
Yankees-Rays (NYY 1-0): Yankees 66.9% to advance
Marlins-Braves: Braves 68.6% to advance
Padres-Dodgers: Dodgers 62.9% to advance

Running World Series odds

NL: Dodgers 35.9%, Padres 14.7%, Braves 12.6%, Marlins 1.2%
AL: Yankees 14.2%, Rays 8.8%, A’s 6.7%, Astros 5.9%

Hot take of the day

Did Dave Roberts make the right choice in having Walker Buehler start Game 1 over Clayton Kershaw? Kershaw was the team’s best starter in the regular season. Maybe Roberts went with Buehler to start this series (and the previous one) to ease some of the pressure off Kershaw. Maybe it doesn’t really matter if each guy is scheduled to make one start in the series anyway.

But there is a potential issue here. Buehler has been battling a blister and lasted just four innings against the Brewers. That wasn’t a big deal because Julio Urias came on in relief and pitched three innings. But in this series, Roberts might need Urias to start (he hasn’t named a starter beyond Game 2). The risk is that if Buehler doesn’t go deep, Roberts might have to use Urias (or Dustin May or Tony Gonsolin) in long relief or use his bullpen for six or seven innings. With five games in five days if the series goes the distance, the effectiveness of the relievers can become an issue the more they pitch, and you’d rather not have to use the whole crew in Game 1. — David Schoenfield

Stat of the day

With his home run against the A’s in Game 1 on Monday, Astros third baseman Alex Bregman achieved two remarkable feats in postseason history. The obvious? The blast, his 11th career home run in the postseason, moved Bregman into a tie with Chipper Jones for the most homers hit by a third baseman in the playoffs.

Less obvious: Bregman’s homer made this the fourth straight year in which he has homered in the postseason on Oct. 5, all in the League Division Series. He hit them against four different opponents: Boston’s Chris Sale in 2017, Cleveland’s Corey Kluber in 2018, Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell in 2019 and Oakland’s Chris Bassitt.

Bregman’s latest tater on Oct. 5 broke a nine-way tie for the feat of homering on the same calendar date in three postseasons. The eight players with homers on a specific date in three postseasons are Mickey Mantle (Oct. 6), Steve Garvey (Oct. 6), Francisco Lindor (Oct. 6), Frank Robinson (Oct. 9), Albert Pujols (Oct. 10), David Ortiz (Oct. 16), Alex Rodriguez (Oct. 17) and Bernie Williams (Oct. 18).

For ESPN+ MLB postseason betting info, check out our picks and best bets

About last night …

What started as a duel between the two aces of the Yankees and Rays went sour late, when the Bombers dropped a ninth-inning five-spot on the scoreboard, thanks to Giancarlo Stanton‘s grand slam to expand a one-run lead to 9-3 and seal the Rays’ doom in Game 1. … The Astros got their swagger back (assuming it ever left in the first place), as they pounded the A’s for 10 runs and 16 hits in their 10-5 win over Oakland in Game 1. Carlos Correa hit a pair of home runs and knocked in four runs, Bregman homered and George Springer went 4-for-5 to lead the Houston attack.

Social media post of the day

Best moment of the MLB playoffs to date

Postseason baseball, meet Fernando Tatis Jr. With his team trailing 6-2 in the sixth inning of Game 2 against the Cardinals on Thursday, MLB’s most electrifying player sparked a much-needed uprising with a three-run homer. Manny Machado followed with another homer in the next at-bat to tie it, and when the dust finally settled, San Diego had hit five home runs, including another Tatis shot — complete with an epic bat flip. The Padres fended off elimination with an 11-9 win, and Tatis enlivened not just his team but also the entire sport.

The running MLB playoff MVP

The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw. Eight dominant innings, giving up only three hits and recording 13 strikeouts, all on breaking pitches. The 13 K’s in Game 2 against the Brewers marked the most by a pitcher in a potential series-clinching game. Perhaps most importantly, the performance might have set the tone for L.A.’s October.

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