The parade of former Oakland A's continues as the Cardinals face the Cubs in their NLDS opener. The two clubs feature seven former A's between them, and at least a few will play in this game.
The pitching matchup is Jon Lester against John Lackey, which should rouse all sorts of emotions for Oakland fans. Lackey made his name as a long-time Angel (and occasionally as their ace), and I don't see why trips through Boston and St. Louis should make you dislike him any less. Here's a picture of the 6'6 Lackey being taken down in a brawl by the 6'0 Jason Kendall in 2006.
Meanwhile, Lester is the pitcher who didn't win the 2014 Wild Card Game for the A's. He was already a marked man simply on virtue of being the guy who came back in the much-maligned Yoenis Cespedes trade, and then he let the WCG get out of hand against the Royals (leading to the A's elimination). Although he never personally did anything wrong and mostly pitched quite well in his brief time in Oakland, his chapter in A's lore is not a happy one. Of course, he still has a 2.57 ERA in 84 career postseason innings, so he still has to be considered a good bet to pitch well for the Cubs in this game. (Lackey is at 3.08 in 117 playoff innings, also quite impressive, and both pitchers have two rings.)
Here are the other former A's:
Brandon Moss, 1B: Moss isn't in the lineup against the lefty Lester, which makes sense. I imagine we'll see him as a pinch-hitter at some point in the late innings, though. He'll be the focus of tomorrow's Game 2 preview, since I expect he'll start against righty Kyle Hendricks.
Matt Holliday, OF: I've mostly purged from my brain any memories of Holliday as an Athletic. It was a questionable trade that worked out poorly on both ends, as Oakland gave up Carlos Gonzalez and Huston Street, got half a season of decent production on a bad team, and then on the other end received a few prospects who never panned out (most notably Michael Taylor). Like Lester, Holliday is technically a former Athletic, but probably not one whom you feel too attached to. He's still plugging right along at age 35, though, with a 121 OPS+ this season.
Jon Lester, SP: Covered in the intro. In 32 starts this season, he posted a 3.34 ERA (116 ERA+) and 207 Ks in 205 innings. That's his fourth year in the last seven with at least 200 innings and strikeouts, which is mighty impressive.
Addison Russell, SS: He didn't have the best postseason debut, though he's a 21-year-old rookie so I think he can be forgiven. He went 1-for-4 at the plate, and when he tried to stretch that hit into a double he was thrown out. He also made an error at shortstop. Tough day, meat.
Trevor Cahill, RP: We covered him in the Wild Card Game preview, but the short version is that he was fantastic down the stretch after being picked up by the Cubs. His Chicago stats include a 2.12 ERA in 17 innings, with 22 Ks and 5 walks. He wasn't needed in the WCG because Arrieta threw a complete game, but we'll almost certainly see him in this series.
Chris Denorfia, OF: He entered as a defensive replacement in LF in the 7th inning, and he drew a walk against Joakim Soria in his only plate appearance.
Jason Hammel, SP: He was added to the roster for the NLDS, but with Lester/Hendricks/Arrieta scheduled for the first three contests we likely won't see Hammel until at least Game 4. He had a solid year for Chicago, making 31 starts, striking out a batter per inning and more than 4 per walk, and posting a 3.74 ERA (104 ERA+) and around 2 WAR. Still think the A's should have re-signed him last winter when his value appeared low (he got 2/$18M with a team option).
Personally, I'm rooting for the Cubs in this series, for obvious reasons. The Cubs haven't won the World Series since 1908, and the Cards haven't missed the NLCS since 2010. Sorry, St. Louis, it's someone else's turn.
|CHICAGO CUBS||ST. LOUIS CARDINALS|
|Dexter Fowler - CF||Matt Carpenter - 3B|
|Kyle Schwarber - RF||Stephen Piscotty - 1B|
|Kris Bryant - 3B||Matt Holliday - LF|
|Anthony Rizzo - 1B||Jason Heyward - CF|
|Starlin Castro - 2B||Jhonny Peralta - SS|
|Chris Coghlan - LF||Randal Grichuk - RF|
|Addison Russell - SS||Yadier Molina - C|
|David Ross - C||Kolten Wong - 2B|
|Jon Lester - LHP||John Lackey - RHP|