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Oct. 3, 2019: MLB Daily Postseason Primer

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National League Divisional Series begins today

MLB: NLDS-Workouts Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday’s Postseason Action

Last night’s American League Wild Card did not have any late inning suspense. The Rays jumped out to a four-run lead and were never challenged as they won 5-1 over the Athletics at Oakland.

The Rays will travel to Houston as both teams prepare for the start of their American League Divisional Series that starts on Friday.

National League Divisional Series starts today

The National League gets to play first as their two Divisional Series begin this afternoon.

Cardinals at Braves

The St. Louis Cardinals will play their first postseason game since 2015 as they visit the Atlanta Braves. The Braves had a four-year break between postseason appearances having not played since 2013 until returning last season. The Braves are the current two-time defending NL East champions.

The Cardinals and Braves are both longtime members of the National League. They have been playing games against one another in one form of their respective franchises since 1892. Overall, they have played 2075 regular season games, the Cardinals hold a 1082-975 lead.

The Cardinals last played the Braves in postseason in the 2012 NL Wild Card game at Atlanta. The Cardinals won that game 6-3. Among the players who played that game and will play in this series are Matt Carpenter and Yadier Molina from the Cardinals and Freddie Freeman from the Braves.

The Braves won their 2019 season series against the Cardinals four games to two games, taking two of three games at home and at St. Louis. It should be noted these all of these games took place over a two-week period in May.

The Braves went 21-5 from August 17th through September 14th to take control of their division and threaten the Dodgers grasp of the NL’s best record. However, they went 4-8 to finish the season with 97 wins, their most since winning 101 games in 2001.

After going to a franchise best five straight postseasons from 2011 - 2015, the Cardinals missed the playoffs for the last three seasons. The Cardinals are a team with two different halves of the season. They were 44-44 at the All-Star Break but fortunately no other NL Central team had jumped out to big lead, so the Cardinals were only two games back behind the Cubs and Brewers.

The Cardinals would go back in first place on July 26th and for the next four-five weeks, they would go between first and third in the division. They would eventually move in to stay at first place on August 23rd though never leading the NL Central by more than 4½ games at any point after taking over first.

The Braves may have gotten a break because of what happened over the last weekend of the season, the Cardinals had just won their sixth straight game and had lowered their magic number to three with five games left. But an poorly time four-game losing streak meant they had to have Jack Flaherty pitch on the last day of the regular season because they needed to win that game to avoid playing in the Wild Card Game.

Flaherty likely won’t start for the Cardinals until Sunday so that might mean something in their series.

Nationals at Dodgers

There have been three previously published previews about the Dodgers starting rotation, their bullpen and their position players going into the postseason. Click on the links to check those out.

There is also a story about the Nationals strengths and potential weakness here. Also, the Nationals postseason history was written about on Tuesday.

Plus there will be previews for each of their games, so please check those out, the first one will be out later today.

The Dodgers won their 2019 regular season series against the Nationals four games to three games, splitting four games in Los Angeles and taking two of three in Washington DC.

Wednesday’s scoreboard

Rays 5, Athletics 1

Thursday’s schedule

2:02 pm PT: Cardinals (Miles Mikolas) @ Braves (Dallas Keuchel)

5:37 pm: Nationals (Patrick Corbin) @ Dodgers (Walker Buehler)

TV: TBS

Radio: Nationals @ Dodgers - 570 KLAC Los Angeles

Your local ESPN Radio affiliate may be carrying the MLB playoffs if it doesn’t conflict with other live sports coverage