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October 12, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Jayson Stark

Jayson Stark
  (12:01 PM)

What an incredible week of baseball, huh? Six winner-take-all games in one week? Never happened before in the history of the sport. Can't wait for today's games. So let's get started.

Trevor (Washington)

Zimmermann looked electric out of the pen last night and apparently might relieve tonight -- how would that affect a potential NLCS start for him?

Jayson Stark
  (12:03 PM)

The NLCS wouldn't start till Sunday. So they'll have plenty of flexibility. All depends on whether he pitches today. They can always start Strasburg in Game 1. (Ha-ha. KIDDING!)

Corey (Louisville,ky) [via mobile]

Hey Jayson, would you bench a rod for todays game? nix had some good at bats last night and chavez in my opinion is better off than a rod. thanks

Jayson Stark
  (12:04 PM)

Personally, I'm in the Doug Glanville school. I would run him out there and let the game unfold. But I'm not sure that's how this will work. He's 0 for 11 against right-handers with 9 strikeouts. And he's been pinch-hit for two days in a row. So they've certainly paved the way for him to start this one on the bench.

J.B. (PA)

Personally didn't like the 'one and done' idea. Not fair in my opinion. Are there plans to expand that opening round to a three game series & if not, do you think it should be expanded?

Jayson Stark
  (12:06 PM)

I asked about that just yesterday, in fact. I was told unequivocally by an excellent source: "That's not going to change." They don't want to push the start of the Division Series back a full week, which would happen if you had a day or two after the season to break ties, then a best-of-three with a travel day. Both sides agreed to this format. There's no way out of it now, and for the foreseeable future.

Kevin (Ashland)

Since Verlander already started last night and CC is starting Game 5 tonight, is there any chance in a potential ALCS matchup between the Tigers and Yankees that we see 3 starts in the series from either guy if the ALCS goes 7 games?

Jayson Stark
  (12:08 PM)

There's now zero chance. Verlander would come back on normal rest in Game 3. But if the Yankees win, even if they want to start CC in Game 3, he'd have to come back on short rest. I think that'll happen. But it points out the inequities of this year's schedule. Both teams had to go 5 games in the Division Series, but the Yankees actually get penalized by being the No. 1 seed. If they survive tonight, they have to play five days in a row now, which never happens in the postseason. And they'll be really challenged to put together a rotation.

Josh (DC)

So with all LDS going to 5 and close to 6 90 win AL teams, baseball seems to have really struck some significant balance. What do you attribute it to? Or is this just a random cyclical thing?

Jayson Stark
  (12:10 PM)

The sport is changing. Not long ago, the only team within $100 million of the Yankees in payroll was the Red Sox. Take a look at the payrolls now. You have six or seven teams now that are at least in the Yankees' range. And the median payroll is now over $90 million. Revenue sharing and the luxury tax have made a huge impact. It isn't perfect. But this is the most competitive balance in this sport in many years.

Mark (South Dakota)

Im a big fan of the umpires, automating things like that would slow the game down way to much. With that said what kind of effect do you think Joyce's strike zone had on cardinal hitters. St.,Louis players pride themselves on plate discipline. They sure looked unhappy with the zone

Jayson Stark
  (12:12 PM)

He had a huge zone for both pitchers. But I agree it made it more difficult for the Cardinals to grind at-bats. Didn't seem to make it tougher for Jayson Werth, though.

Kevin (Philadelphia)

What Gio Gonzalez do we see tonight for the nationals? The guy who looked like the consensus Cy Young for most of the year or the guy who walked 7 over 5 innings in Game 1 of the series?

Jayson Stark
  (12:13 PM)

I expect Gio to be much more comfortable pitching at home. He can't possibly be as wild or as jittery as he was in that start in St. Louis. Can he?

Dan (Chicago)

It wasn't any tougher for Jason Werth, the strike zone wasn't the size of China anymore for his at bat.

Jayson Stark
  (12:14 PM)

I've looked at every pitch. There was one borderline pitch - the 2-2 breaking ball - where Lynn didn't get a call the other pitchers yesterday seemed to be getting. Other than that, where was there an issue? The guy fouled off seven two-strike pitches. So it's not as if he was up there taking.

J.B. (PA)

Simple question: Would you have called the infield fly on Simmons' ball?

Jayson Stark
  (12:16 PM)

I wouldn't have. No. Maybe you can read the words in that rule and, if you take them literally enough, justify making that call. But I still think there's no way that happens if the third-base umpire has to make that call instead of the LF ump. If the third-base ump has to turn and hustle backward 100 feet, he knows that's not "ordinary" effort. The LF ump has a totally different perspective.

Chris (Troy)

That 2-2 breaking ball sure was important though wasnt it?

Jayson Stark
  (12:17 PM)

No doubt! No denying that. I was shocked at the time he didn't get rung up.

Andy (STL)

As one of the experts, I'm asking you to speak on behalf of them all. Why is it that the experts always seem to pick against the Cardinals even though they prove people wrong time and time again?

Jayson Stark
  (12:19 PM)

All the experts pick against the Cardinals? Every one of them? Not sure which experts you're talking about. I know I've picked them to win on the air, so I guess I don't count. But I polled 16 GMs, execs and scouts last week on who's going to win the World Series, and not one picked the Cardinals. So if there's a "conspiracy," it isn't just a media conspiracy. Maybe because they're always the last team in!

Will (DC)

I understand Davey doesn't want to interrupt team chemistry for the Nats, but it is hard to understand why Michael Morse is still out there. He has shown he is struggling to hit, but the main concern is his poor defense and lack of speed. Should Tyler Moore be taking his spot?

Jayson Stark
  (12:20 PM)

If you've watched Davey this year and through the years, you know he'd never do that. Trusts his guys. Always has. Always will. Having said that, though, Michael Morse has had a really disappointing series. He hasn't gotten himself into a hitter's count the entire series.

Jayson Stark
  (12:20 PM)

Before we go on, I should mention I only have a half-hour today. So I'll try to take as many as I can in the next 10 minutes.

Mark (St. Louis)

What kind of game do you see coming fromWainwright tonight?

Jayson Stark
  (12:21 PM)

I always expect Adam Wainwright to come up big in big games. Loves the big moment. And he's been waiting for this night for a long time.

Mike T (San Jose)

The "one and done" ruined what was good about the original wild card format -- the fact that a great team in a division with an even greater team could still compete in the playoffs. The new format makes the one-game feel more like a regular season extension than actually being in the playoffs.

Jayson Stark
  (12:24 PM)

I think you're missing the point of adding that second wild card. It wasn't done to detract from the regular season. It was done to enhance the season, by greatly increasing the incentive for teams to win their divisions. And that worked. You could see how every team in that position played those games down the stretch. And after seeing what happened to the Rangers and Braves in that one-game setting, that should be a warning to every team: Don't take your chances on finishing second. It's hazardous to the well-being of your season!

JM (Dayton, OH)

I am not a big fan of 1:00 playoff game start times. Couldn't TBS/TNT show 2 games at the same time? Is there that big of drop in ratings? I would think have more options closer to prime time would increase the overall ratings.

Jayson Stark
  (12:26 PM)

The idea is for every game and every team to get its due, and not have to force people to choose which game to watch. It's as similar to March Madness as anything in sports. And I think it's been awesome. I feel sorry for people who have to work and can't attend those 1 o'clock games. But I don't think there's any way around it. Remember 1995, when all the Division Series games were played at the same time? Disaster!

Jake (MD)

In regards to the one game wild card. Wouldn't the Orioles and Rangers have played the exact game in the old format too as a tie-breaker?

Jayson Stark
  (12:26 PM)

You're exactly right! Funny how that turned out.

Rod (Guatemala)

Is it a mirage for Tigers pitching that they pitch very well against a team that doesn't hit that well?? A's just went hacking!! and missing!

Jayson Stark
  (12:27 PM)

You had an excellent rotation facing an offense that had the lowest team batting average of any playoff team since they lowered the mound after '68. There was always the potential for the Tigers starters to shut down that lineup. And, for the most part, that happened.

Jeff (Phoenix, AZ)

Do you think Timmy will start a game in the NLCS?

Jayson Stark
  (12:28 PM)

I do. I don't see where Barry Zito earned another start, based on that performance in Cincinnati. Do you?

J.B. (PA)

But the Braves finished six games ahead of the Cardinals only to have one chance to advance. Doesn't seem fair to me.

Jayson Stark
  (12:29 PM)

It's not "fair." The response to any team that complains about it is: You had six months to win your division. You had 18 games against the team that finished ahead of you. That's how you got yourself into this mess. So don't blame the system. Blame yourselves. Doesn't make the Braves feel any better, I know. But that's the deal. They knew it going in.

Jayson Stark
  (12:29 PM)

Hate to go, but I'm about out of time. I can only take one more. Sorry.

PT Sweetness (The Constitution State)

I really disagreed with Matheny's handling of the bullpen last night. I think you need to plan better, so that a young struggling starter that doesn't make the rotation isn't the pitcher on the mound during the most important inning of the year. Stick to what got you there. Your thoughts?

Jayson Stark
  (12:31 PM)

Lance Lynn has been tremendous in this postseason. He'd struck out 6 of the 15 hitters he'd faced in this series before yesterday. I have no problem with him being on the mound in that spot. Not sure why that's such a grievous error. But if they advance, you won't have to worry about that next round, because he'll replace Jaime Garcia in the rotation.

Jayson Stark
  (12:31 PM)

Gotta run. Thanks to everyone who checked in. Enjoy another great day (and night) of October baseball!