Monday Morning Hot Links

Well let's do this. I cannot remember an October weekend that didn't feature at least one playoff game, but it seems as though MLB deferred to Football. Maybe that was the right call, I don't know. Hope you all enjoyed your weekend and, from what I saw on Twitter Dot Com, Bill O'Brien brought you a sack full of delights and treats. So now you're ready to chew nails, and I'm here for it. 1st Pitch is at 3:07pm Central on TBS, and I hope you love afternoon playoff baseball because that's what we have all week.

*Lance McCullers takes the mound today vs. Chris Bassitt. It will be McCullers' third playoff appearance at Dodger Stadium. The first was Game 7 of the 2017 World Series. The second was August 4, 2018 - his last start before undergoing Tommy John Surgery. The third is today. McCullers:

I've spoken a lot in the past about how there's no guarantees with this surgery, this rehab I went through. I did believe that I would come out on the other side a better pitcher, a better teammate, and I believe I've done that. Just a full-circle moment for me being back in the postseason.

Chandler Rome: McCullers is bringing an expanded repertoire to the ALDS.

*Oakland starter Chris Bassitt's last five starts, including the 2020 postseason: 33.2IP, 29H/2ER, 30K:6BB, 0.53 ERA / 1.04 WHIP. Having last pitched on September 30, Bassitt is on regular rest. Astros batters, career, vs. Bassitt:

Carlos Correa: 14 PAs, .400/.571/.500

George Springer: 17 PAs, .294/.294/.706

Yuli Gurriel: 19 PAs, .368/.368/.474

Kyle Tucker: 10 PAs, .200/.200/.600

Alex Bregman: 15 PAs, .286/.333/.357 

Jose Altuve: 19 PAs, .263/.263/.421

Michael Brantley: 23 PAs, .273/.304/.364

Josh Reddick: 18 PAs, .056/.056/.222

*McTaggart has your Game 1 FAQ. Astros/A's positional breakdown. Sean Manaea is facing Framber Valdez in Game 2. No word on how Mike Fiers is going to be able to avoid the Astros yet.

*The Astros are underdogs against the A's, 19/4 to win the Pennant, and 10/1 to win the World Series. Yet FanGraphs has it 56-44 Astros, FiveThirtyEight has it 52-48 Astros, and Game 1 is a coin flip.

*McTaggart: Will the Astros' bats finally come alive?

*MLB.com: Framber Valdez's curveball might be a series-changer for the Astros.

*We're still not real sure what Zack Greinke's role will be in the ALDS.

*The Astros & A's are staying at the same Los Angeles hotel.

*Mattress Mack won $625,000 thanks to the Astros' Game 1 Wild Card win, and he has another $250,000 bet on 24:1 odds for Houston to win the World Series.

*David Schoenfield: Breaking down all of the bad blood in the Division Series.

*A.J. Hinch and Alex Cora are both under consideration for the Tigers' open managerial position.

*Eat a bowl of crap, Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

*In a weekend full of guano crazy Premier League results (Manchester United lost 6-1 to Tottenham, Liverpool lost 7-2 to [squints] Aston Villa) our collectively-beloved Leeds United drew with Manchester City 1-1

*Vice: "Kid A" will always be relevant as long as the world is a terrifying mess.

*Wired: The mad scramble to claim the world's most coveted meteorite.

*A Musical Selection:

Monday Morning Hot Links