The Opener: NLCS Game 6, ALCS Game 7, Managers

Here are three things worth monitoring in baseball today, with a chance for the World Series matchup to be locked in by day’s end. It will be the last day of the year with more than one MLB game, so enjoy!

1. NLCS Game 6:

After the Phillies took Game 5 in Arizona, they have a chance to end the series tonight, with Game 6 starting at 4:07pm Central. Doing so would punch their ticket to the World Series for a second straight year. Of course, the Diamondbacks will be looking to take this game and live to fight another day. Aaron Nola will take the ball for the Phils and will be hoping to extend his outstanding postseason run, having thrown 18 2/3 innings over three starts with an ERA of 0.96. As an impending free agent, it feels like he’s earning himself millions of future dollars each time he climbs the hill this month. Merrill Kelly starts for the Snakes, having registered an ERA of 3.00 in his two playoff outings this year.

2. ALCS Game 7:

After a deflating loss in Game 5, the Rangers bounced back with an emphatic victory in Game 6, pushing the series to a seventh game. Strangely, this will be the first winner-take-all game of this year’s postseason, since every Wild Card series was a two-game sweep and none of the Division Series went to five games. Max Scherzer will be starting for the Rangers, making his second appearance after returning from injury. The first one didn’t go so well, as he allowed five earned runs in four innings, but he’ll obviously be hoping for better results tonight. If he and the club are successful, the Rangers will head to the World Series for the first time since 2011. The Astros counter with Cristian Javier, who has an ERA of 1.69 in his two starts this postseason, continuing his trend of clicking in the spotlight. In 43 1/3 playoff innings in his career, his ERA is just 2.08. If the Astros take it tonight, they will return to the World Series for a third straight year and their fifth appearance in the past seven Fall Classics.

As of right now, it’s unknown if Bryan Abreu will be available for the Astros after he received a two-game suspension for Game 5’s fireworks. Abreu appealed that suspension, allowing him to pitch in Game 6 last night, but that appeal will be heard today. Game time is 7:03 pm Central.

3. Managerial musical chairs:

There was a surprising twist out of California yesterday, with the Padres giving manager Bob Melvin permission to speak with their division rivals in San Francisco about their open managerial position. The Giants are one of four clubs with an empty skipper’s chair, along with the Guardians, Mets and Angels, but it seems the Padres might be replacing them on that list. The Brewers could be added as well, with Craig Counsell’s contract set to expire at the end of October, which is just over a week away now.

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