Zack Greinke has been one of baseball's high-end starting pitchers for years, and he's who the Twins will have to figure out in Game 1 of their best-of-three playoff series against the Houston Astros.
Greinke will be opposed by Minnesota's Kenta Maeda, who despite a fantastic regular season goes into the postseason as a starter for the first time since 2016. Greinke, though, will take the mound for his 17th postseason start – the majority of which have been excellent.
The 36-year-old right-hander has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 12 of his last 14 playoff starts, including just two runs and two hits allowed in 6.1 innings in Game 7 of the World Series last October against the Washington Nationals.
In Game 4 of last year's World Series, Greinke surrendered just one run in 4.2 innings despite allowing seven hits and three walks. In the ALCS against a potent Yankees lineup last year, Greinke made two starts and gave up four runs in 10.1 innings.
He struggled a bit in the 2017 playoffs (seven runs in 8.2 innings), but between 2013 and 2015 he led the Dodgers with a 2.38 ERA over six starts, allowing just 11 runs in 41.2 innings.
Maeda, meanwhile, started three postseason games with the Dodgers during his rookie MLB season in 2016. Thereafter, he pitched in the playoffs in 21 games, with all 21 appearances coming out of the bullpen.
“I’ve been given the chance to start in a postseason game for the first time in a long time so I want to help the team win,” Maeda said Monday, via The Japan Times.
If he can do just that, he'll be the first Twins pitcher in nearly two decades to get the job done as Minnesota is hoping to avoid extending its MLB record 16-game playoff losing streak.
Game 1 starts just after 1 p.m. Tuesday and will be televised on TBS.