Tonight's (AL Wild Card) Matchup: Rays (Cobb) @ Indians (Salazar)

Jamie Sabau

Two young righties face off in the first official game of the AL Postseason.

While we count down the days to the next Brewer game, there is other baseball being played in Cleveland.

The Rays have already won one winner-take-all game this week and they'll be looking for another when they take on Danny Salazar (3.12 ERA, 3.16 FIP) and the Indians at 7. Salazar is a veteran of just ten major league appearances and last pitched against the White Sox a week ago, when he allowed two runs on six hits over 5.1 innings with a walk and eight strikeouts.

If Salazar's first couple of months in the big leagues have taught us anything, it's that he's capable of racking up some big strikeout numbers. He's punched out 65 batters in his first 52 innings while walking just 15. He has six games with seven or more strikeouts in his first ten MLB appearances, but he's also thrown more than 89 pitches just one time.

Salazar has never faced the Rays in the majors.

He'll face 25-year-old righty Alex Cobb (2.76 ERA, 3.36 FIP), whose third MLB season has easily been his best one. Cobb made 22 starts for the Rays during the regular season and last pitched on Thursday, when he worked seven shutout innings against the Yankees.

I hesitate to call Cobb a junkballer, but I will point out that his changeup and curve represent over 55% of all of his pitches. He has a low-90's fastball too, but the off-speed stuff seems to take precedence over it. The fact that he can rely on non-fastball pitches that frequently and still post a walk rate under 3 (2.8 per nine innings this season) is pretty impressive, but I wonder if his current arsenal bodes well for his long-term health.

Cobb faced the Indians all the way back in April and pitched seven shutout innings in a 6-0 Rays win. The only current Indian who has faced him ten times or more is Nick Swisher, who has a .300/.417/.400 batting line against him over 12 plate appearances.

Lineup tweets! First, the Rays:

And the homestanding Indians:

Weather has not yet been a factor this postseason and likely won't be tonight. Expect a game-time temperature around 68 under clear to mostly clear skies with almost no wind to speak of.

Enjoy the game!

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