Bring on the Fall Classic

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We found out that the World Series matchup would be between the Astros and Braves after the Braves clinched Saturday night, but unfortunately the schedule calls for two off days before the Fall Classic kicks off Tuesday evening in Houston.

When the festivities do get underway, it will be Charlie Morton squaring off against his former team in Game 1. Morton, of course, won a World Series with the Astros in 2017, picking up the win in Game 7 as he tossed four terrific relief innings on short rest.

The Astros will counter with Framber Valdez in Game 1. After struggling in his ALDS start versus the White Sox and in ALCS Game 1 against the Red Sox, Valdez came back to spin a gem in Game 5, tossing eight innings of one-run ball.

It’s 2021, so we don’t officially know what the other pitching matchups will be yet. Managers Dusty Baker and Brian Snitker aren’t going to reveal those until they have to. The expectation is that Houston will go with Luis Garcia in Game 2 and Jose Urquidy in Game 3, with Zack Greinke possibly in the mix for Game 4. As for the Braves, it lines up for Max Fried to take the ball in Game 2 and Ian Anderson in Game 3, with Game 4 perhaps being a bullpen game.

One guy who won’t be starting in the series is Lance McCullers, who is dealing with a strained right forearm. The expectation is that he will recover in time for spring training, but McCullers is going to be shut down from throwing for a while longer. Obviously, it’s a big blow to the Astros’ rotation, but they can still roll out three pretty good starters.

One interesting wrinkle for this series is what the Braves will do with the designated hitter spot for road games and what the Astros will do without the DH spot for away contests.

Jorge Soler came back from the COVID-19 injured list in the middle of the NLCS and is in line to handle DH duties for Atlanta. He was hitting leadoff prior to his absence, but Snitker has indicated that he will probably leave the red-hot Eddie Rosario at the top of the order even with the Astros starting a lefty in Game 1.

When the Astros go on the road, that means they’ll lose the ability to slot Yordan Alvarez in at DH. For the record, Baker said Sunday that he hasn’t decided what he’s going to do yet. However, he’s certainly not going to bench Alvarez, so the young slugger will have to play left field. That will probably result in Michael Brantley shifting to right and Kyle Tucker to center. Brantley going to the bench and Chas McCormick (with perhaps Jose Siri mixed in) handling center is also in play. Jake Meyers (shoulder) is not expected to be ready.

Are you guys ready for this thing to get underway?

I know I am.

Cardinals Announce Marmol as New Manager

The Cardinals’ firing of manager Mike Shildt on October 14 caught virtually everyone by surprise, the skipper himself included. The team didn’t look far to find his replacement, though.

Oliver Marmol, who had served as the bench coach under Shildt since 2019, was officially introduced as the Cards’ new manager on Monday. At 35, he’s now by far the youngest manager in the big leagues (Rocco Baldelli is the next-youngest at 40). He’s also significantly younger than franchise cornerstones Adam Wainwright (40) and Yadier Molina (39).

Marmol had previously served as St. Louis’ first base coach and was a manager in their minor league system at a couple different stops. Prior to that, he played four seasons in the minors for them after they had taken him in the sixth round of the 2007 Draft.

With the Cardinals filling their managerial vacancy, now the Mets and Padres are the only team with openings. Shildt, by the way, has interviewed for the Padres’ job, as has former Mets skipper Luis Rojas.

Quick Hits: Ronald Blum of the Associated Press has reported that Major League Baseball is "almost certain" to have a work stoppage when the current CBA expires on December 2 … Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said Monday that there were no real concerns about the status of Rafael Devers’ right elbow going into the offseason. Devers experienced soreness in the elbow down the stretch at the plate on swings and misses, but it sounds like he should be fine with a little rest … The Red Sox sent Franchy Cordero outright to Triple-A Worcester after he cleared waivers … The Padres are expected to hire Indians assistant pitching coach Ruben Niebla as their next pitching coach, per Buster Olney of ESPN … Rockies pitching coach Steve Foster has stepped down from his role and will be replaced by bullpen coach Darryl Scott.

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