All 8 of today's playoff games, ranked

September 30th, 2020

There is so much baseball -- vital, tense baseball -- on Wednesday that if you are not careful, your brain will explode. In an ideal world, human beings would have 10-16 eyeballs so they could watch every second of each of these games. Alas, we are stuck with these mere two.

Thus, we provide you with a viewer’s guide, a ranking of the eight games of the day, in order of importance, urgency and excitement. But we’d still suggest just watching them all, no matter how many eyeballs you have.

1. Astros at Twins, Game 2, 1:08 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Pitchers: Jose Urquidy vs. José Berríos
Lineups, injuries, more

Uh-oh. Few teams have faced more recent postseason woe than the Twins, who, rather famously, came into this series having lost 16 consecutive playoff games. The hope was a strong finish in September, as well as a first-round foe that ended the season under .500, would snap that streak, but … nope, the streak’s now 17, the longest playoff losing streak in American sports history.

You think last offseason, when the Twins got swept after winning the most games in franchise history, was a rough one? Imagine what happens if they lose this one, their 18th in a row, to a team with a losing record that also might be the most unpopular in the game. It feels like maybe one win, just one measly postseason win, might break the dam. But they have to get one, or look out. The Twins are staring into the void.

2. Reds at Braves, Game 1, 12:08 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Pitchers: Trevor Bauer vs. Max Fried
Lineups, injuries, more

It’s tough to come up with a better pitching matchup than this, with two National League Cy Young Award contenders using this shortened season to have the year of their lives. But that’s just the start. The Reds built up their roster specifically to contend this season and spent most of the year spinning their wheels, at least on offense, before exploding late.

That’s not ideal for the Braves, who probably would have rather played the Cardinals or Marlins, all told. Atlanta is a team that has a terrific offense with a triumvirate (--) unlike any in the game -- but also pitching injuries all over the place. The Braves have lost 10 consecutive postseason series dating back to 2001 (tied for a record), and their fans have the memories of that 10-run first inning by St. Louis in Game 5 the NL Division Series last year still at the forefront of their minds. If they lose Game 1, it’s going to get very scary very fast.

3. Yankees at Indians, Game 2, 7:08 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Pitchers: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Carlos Carrasco
FAQ: Lineups, injuries, more

Well, this is how the Yankees drew it up, yes? cruises through seven innings, hits a two-run homer on the fourth pitch of the game and they blast the likely American League Cy Young winner behind a stacked lineup packed with healthy sluggers. You think the Yankees have been waiting for this all season? Their Game 1 wipeout felt like the Yankees unleashing all their powers at once, and it’s tempting to think they’re going to knock around like they knocked around . But, as they say, momentum goes as far as the next day’s starting pitcher. Then again, it also goes as far as the baseballs the Yankees keep launching deep into the Cleveland night. The Indians look a little shell-shocked after that offensive display. They have less than 24 hours to recover, or their season is going to be over quickly.

4. White Sox at A’s, Game 2, 3:10 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Pitchers: Dallas Keuchel vs. Chris Bassitt
FAQ: Lineups, injuries, more

The A’s lineup was never considered one of their strengths, but, still, not having a baserunner until the seventh inning (which is what happened against in Game 1) is not a great way to win a game, no matter how good your bullpen is. The White Sox already feel like a team that’s going to win a whole bunch of postseason series down the line, so why not get started now? The A’s do have their best starter going, though, and this White Sox lineup can be streaky. If the A’s lose, it will be their 13th loss in their last 14 postseason series, which is almost as cruel as what has been happening to the Twins and Braves.

5. Brewers at Dodgers, Game 1, 10:08 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Pitchers: Brent Suter vs. Walker Buehler
FAQ: Lineups, injuries, more

We have all prepared for considerable potential craziness in this Wild Card round, but are we sure we’re ready for “team with losing record beats one of the deepest teams of all time, one that desperately wants a World Series title after years of falling short?”

The Brewers do have a puncher’s chance: They have one of the best relievers in the game in -- rookie sensation Devin Williams was removed from the roster with arm issues -- they have an MVP (albeit one having a down year) in and, if they can sneak out a Game 1 win in what will be a bullpen game opened by , they could have a terrific starter in ready for Game 2. The Dodgers, for their part … basically have a roster packed to the gills with All-Stars and look unstoppable. But they are, of course, more than capable of losing one game, and if they lose this one, the shrieks coming out of Dodger Stadium will be heard on the moon. And then the “ can’t come through in October” narrative would really be put to the test in Game 2.

6. Blue Jays at Rays, Game 2, 4:07 p.m. ET (TBS)
Pitchers: Hyun Jin Ryu vs. Tyler Glasnow
FAQ: Lineups, injuries, more

The Rays are exactly who you thought they were in Game 1: a team that can hit a little, not a lot, but just enough to take advantage of a fantastic rotation and an absolute lights-out bullpen. You do wonder how much of that bullpen will be available in Game 2 -- , after 29 pitches in Game 1, would seem to be taking this afternoon off -- but is plenty capable of carrying the load himself much of the way. The underdog Blue Jays have their best arm on the mound to see how long they keep their mojo going in this strange year that had them playing their home games in Buffalo.

7. Cardinals at Padres, Game 1, 5:08 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Pitchers: Kwang Hyun Kim vs. Chris Paddack
FAQ: Lineups, injuries, more

This will be the first postseason game in San Diego in 14 years, which also happened to be against St. Louis. The Padres were shut out in that game by and four other pitchers, including the closer, a rookie named . The starting pitcher for the Padres in that game, , is now 57 years old.

The battle between the emergent Padres, with , and , and the back-as-always Cardinals is a fascinating one, particularly because the starters (Kim and Paddack) are absolutely not the pitchers you might have suspected would start Game 1 as recently as a week ago. But the Cardinals decided to go with Wainwright -- he’s still here! -- and in Games 2 and 3, and the Padres are coping with injuries to and , so here we are.

8. Marlins-Cubs, Game 1, 2:08 p.m. ET (ABC)
Pitchers: Sandy Alcantara vs. Kyle Hendricks
FAQ: Lineups, injuries, more

Get your Bartman jokes out of the way right now, particularly because those should really be Alex Gonzalez jokes, anyway. (Leave poor Steve Bartman alone.) This series is a wild one, between a team that no one (perhaps even the players themselves) thought would be anywhere near the playoffs this season against a veteran, but perhaps fading, warhorse looking for one last championship run. This one loses a little bit of luster for not even featuring the most fun pitching matchup in Game 1: We must wait for Game 2 for the - battle.