LEADING OFF: Aces up in NL wild card; Puig looking "rusty"
A look at what's happening around the major leagues today:
ANOTHER WILD ONE
The Pirates and Cubs take their turn on the national stage, squaring off in the NL wild-card game at PNC Park. This one features two of the game's best pitchers, as the Bucs' Gerrit Cole shares the rubber with Chicago's Cy Young candidate Jake Arrieta. It'll be the postseason debut for Arrieta, who won 22 games with a 0.75 ERA after the All-Star break this year. Pittsburgh and Chicago had the second- and third-best records in the majors this season, respectively, but one starts their offseason Thursday morning while the other heads to St. Louis for the NL Division Series.
The Dodgers will face the Mets with Clayton Kershaw on the hill Friday in Game 1 of the other NLDS, but they may do so without outfielder Yasiel Puig. The Cuban star missed a month at the end of the season with a hamstring injury, returning to play the final two games. He has looked ''rusty'' to manager Don Mattingly, though, and the team isn't ready to commit a roster spot to Puig just yet.
The Mets will work out at Citi Field again hoping this time they'll be joined on time by pitcher Matt Harvey, who showed up late without a public explanation to the team's mandatory session Tuesday. David Wright sounded annoyed when he told reporters, ''It's about the guys that are here. And the guys that are here, we had a great workout. ... So you will have to talk to Matt about that.'' Harvey did not clarify why he was late, saying he ''just screwed up.''
The Royals announced Tuesday that they will start youngster Yordano Ventura in their ALDS opener Thursday night against the Astros, saving Johnny Cueto for Game 2 and Edinson Volquez for the third game. It's been a rollercoaster year for Ventura, who was briefly demoted to Triple-A Omaha before coming back to post a 4-1 record and 3.14 ERA in seven September starts. The defending AL champions finished with the best record in the league this year.