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Elephant Rumblings: Zack Greinke will start Game 4 of ALDS for Astros

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Oakland Athletics v Houston Astros - Game Two Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Good morning, Athletics Nation!

The Oakland A’s kept their season rolling for at least one more day. Facing not just elimination but a potential ALDS sweep on Wednesday, they mounted a thrilling comeback to win Game 3. They immediately announced they would hand the ball to Frankie Montas to start Game 4.

However, the Houston Astros were less certain about who would pitch for them on Thursday, waiting until the morning to decide. They finally chose Zack Greinke.

The 36-year-old is the Astros ace, but he struggled in his final few starts of the regular season. This week he visited a doctor due to arm soreness, but there was no structural damage, reports John Shea of the S.F. Chronicle.

The A’s have faced Greinke three times this year, and Oakland won two of the games. Once he was excellent but the A’s beat Houston’s bullpen; once he was mediocre but won a short doubleheader game; and once (most recently, in September) he allowed four runs and was out-dueled by none other than Montas.

Greinke, vs. OAK: 3.71 ERA, 17 ip, 17 Ks, 2 BB, 3 HR, 18 hits, .327 xwOBA

The three homers were hit by Ramon Laureano, Matt Chapman, and Khris Davis, two of whom will be in the lineup Thursday.

On one hand, Greinke’s 6.53 ERA in his last four regular season starts could be a concern for the Astros. On the other hand, he still only allowed two total walks in those games, with a great .289 xwOBA. He started Game 1 of the Wild Card Series against the Twins and only went four innings, with one run allowed but three walks and a high .375 xwOBA.

Houston also expects to use Cristian Javier out of the bullpen, reports Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. The rookie right-hander spent most of the year as a starter, and was beaten by the A’s both times he faced them. He also threw an inning of mop-up relief in Game 1.

Meanwhile, the A’s are also getting back a player after an injury concern. Second baseman Tommy La Stella exited Game 3 after being hit by a pitch in the elbow, but he only has a contusion and he is back in the lineup for Game 4. Manager Bob Melvin was surprised to see him ready to go and noted La Stella’s toughness, per Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle.

As for the rest of the playoffs on Wednesday, the Rays beat the Yankees again, and both NL favorites (Dodgers and Braves) won again to run their series to 2-0. Here’s the schedule for Thursday, all times Pacific (series standings in parentheses):

  • 11:08 a.m.: Marlins @ Braves (0-2)
  • 12:35 p.m.: A’s @ Astros (1-2)
  • 4:10 p.m.: Rays @ Yankees (2-1)
  • 6:08 p.m.: Padres @ Dodgers (0-2)

Let’s go A’s and Rays!

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With some help from Hercu-Liam Hendriks

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