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NLDS Game 4: Jason Hammel starts for Cubs in potential clinching game

Yet another former Athletic could make a big difference in the playoffs.
Yet another former Athletic could make a big difference in the playoffs.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Remember Jason Hammel? He's the guy who looked like a deadline acquisition bust in 2014 but was secretly one of the best pitchers on the A's in August and September of that year. The Cubs re-signed him cheap, and now here he is, starting Game 4 of the NLDS with a chance to send the Chicago Cubs to the next round.

Cubs lead Cardinals in series, 2-1

Time: 1:37 p.m. PT

Starters: Jason Hammel vs. John Lackey

Hammel had a solid year in 2015. He wasn't a workhorse, averaging under six innings per start, but he did take the hill 31 times. His 3.74 ERA worked out to a roughly average 104 ERA+ but he did strike out a batter per inning and more than four for every walk he issued. Perhaps it's true that he's juuust good enough to survive (and occasionally thrive) in the National League, with a couple get-out-of-rally-free cards sprinkled throughout his 5-6 innings when the opposing pitcher comes up to extinguish an exciting moment. But like virtually everything else over the last 18 months or so, Hammel is yet another player who seems like he should have worked out better than he did here.

Of course, he could also get lit up, though the Cardinals will be missing Yadier Molina from their lineup due to "considerable weakness in his thumb". Brandon Moss is also out of the lineup. For the Cubs, Addison Russell is out with hamstring tightness, though he could possibly return for a potential Game 5 if necessary. Russell left Game 3 in the 4th inning due to the injury. With Moss and Russell out, the only former A's starting in this game are Hammel and Matt Holliday (2-for-12 BB, 2 Ks). Trevor Cahill has made two relief appearances for the Cubs -- he's faced seven batters overall, with four strikeouts, a groundout, an E6, and a single by Stephen Piscotty.

Today's Lineups

Matt Carpenter - 3B Dexter Fowler - CF
Stephen Piscotty - 1B Jorge Soler - RF
Matt Holliday - LF Kris Bryant - 3B
Jason Heyward - RF Anthony Rizzo - 1B
Jhonny Peralta - SS Starlin Castro - 2B
Randal Grichuk - CF Kyle Schwarber - LF
Kolten Wong - 2B Miguel Montero - C
Tony Cruz - C Jason Hammel - RHP
John Lackey - RHP Javier Baez - SS

Mets lead Dodgers in series, 2-1

Time: 5:07 p.m. PT

Starters: Steven Matz vs. Clayton Kershaw

Yoenis Cespedes has homered twice in three postseason games for the Mets. He homered once in 10 postseason games for the A's in 2012-13. Maybe if he'd ever done this in Oakland, those awesome A's teams would have won something after all.

Meanwhile, Brett Anderson got ruined in Game 3, so at least there is one former Athletic not destroying the world in the 2015 postseason (even Luke Gregerson didn't come into Houston's Monday nightmare until the save was already blown). Clayton Kershaw has one more chance to do anything to help his team win a postseason series, something he hasn't done since the 2013 NLDS (three series ago in Dodger Time).

Today's Lineups

Enrique Hernandez - CF Curtis Granderson - RF
Howie Kendrick - 2B David Wright - 3B
Adrian Gonzalez - 1B Daniel Murphy - 2B
Justin Turner - 3B Yoenis Cespedes - LF
Corey Seager - SS Travis d'Arnaud - C
Yasiel Puig - RF Lucas Duda - 1B
A.J. Ellis - C Wilmer Flores - SS
Justin Ruggiano - LF Juan Lagares - CF
Clayton Kershaw - LHP Steven Matz - LHP

I'm rooting for the Cubs, because c'mon, even Cardinals fans have to be rooting for the poor Cubbies to make some noise in the postseason, right? The best fans in baseball would root for the Cubs today because that is the best story for the sport, but I doubt St. Louis will see eye-to-eye with me there. I'm rooting for the Dodgers because then we get a Game 5 and that's more fun than a four-game series, and I don't particularly care which team wins that series anyway.