The 2013 MLB playoffs have started with a bang, as three of the four series were tied at 1-1 entering Sunday's action. The National League series may not be knotted up any longer, but thus far, it's been an even battle.
The question is, which pitching matchups will stand out on Monday?
During the postseason, the baseball community knows to expect memorable performances from pitchers. More times than not, stars are born in the playoffs, regardless of what happened during the regular season.
Fortunately, there are postseason battles on Monday that could go down in the record books. Here's what they are.
Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays
Red Sox: Clay Buchholz (16 GS; 12-1, 1.74 ERA, 96 SO)
Rays: Alex Cobb (22 GS; 11-3, 2.76 ERA, 134 SO)
Series: 2-0, Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox have dominated the American League Division Series against the division rival Tampa Bay Rays. En route to a 2-0 series advantage, the Bo Sox have a 12-2 win in Game 1 and a 7-4 victory in Game 2.
During Game 3, expect the series' first pitcher's duel.
Clay Buchholz was the front-runner for the Cy Young award before going down with an injury, limiting him to 16 starts in 2013. When he was on the field, Buchholz went 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 16 total starts.
It's worth noting that Buchholz was 2-0 with 14 strikeouts in 13 shutout innings against Tampa Bay during the regular season.
Alex Cobb made 22 starts for the Tampa Bay Rays during the regular season, going 11-3 with a 2.76 ERA and 134 strikeouts. He also threw 6.2 shutout innings with five strikeouts during the Rays' 4-0 win over the Cleveland Indians during the Wild Card round.
This is what you call a pitcher's duel.
As great as Cobb has been for the Rays, he is 0-1 with a 5.16 ERA in four starts against the Red Sox in 2013. During his past two starts against the Bo Sox, Cobb has gone 9.2 innings and allowed nine earned runs.
The numbers favor Buchholz and Boston, but this is the postseason. Anything is possible.
Oakland Athletics at Detroit Tigers
Athletics: Jarrod Parker (32 GS; 12-8, 3.97 ERA, 134 SO)
Tigers: Anibal Sanchez (29 GS; 14-8, 2.57 ERA, 202 SO)
The Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics have split the first two games of their ALDS. The Tigers took Game 1 by a score of 3-2 after Max Scherzer out-dueled Bartolo Colon in a meeting of the American League's top two leaders in wins, and Oakland won Game 2 1-0 after Stephen Vogt drove in the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth.
Justin Verlander threw 7.0 scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts and Sonny Gray threw 8.0 shutout innings with nine Ks in Game 2, setting the stage for yet another pitcher's duel in Game 3.
Anibal Sanchez will start Game 3 after going 14-8 with 202 strikeouts and an American League-best 2.57 ERA. During two starts against Oakland, Sanchez was 1-0 with 14 strikeouts and a 3.75 ERA.
During his only home game against the Athletics, Sanchez allowed four earned runs in 5.0 innings.
Jarrod Parker finished the 2013 MLB regular season at 12-8 with 134 strikeouts and a 3.86 ERA. In his only start against Detroit, Parker went 3.1 innings and allowed eight earned runs.
So what makes this a pitcher's duel?
During the final two months of the regular season, Parker lowered his ERA by .10 points and had three separate starts with at least eight innings of work and one earned run allowed. Sanchez, meanwhile, is one of the most efficient pitchers in baseball.
There is upside for a high-scoring affair, but don't be shocked to see Parker and Sanchez duel.
St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates
Cardinals: Michael Wacha (9 GS; 4-1, 2.78 ERA, 65 SO)
Pirates: Charlie Morton (20 GS; 7-4, 3.26 ERA, 85 SO)
Series: 2-1, Pirates
The St. Louis Cardinals will travel to play the Pittsburgh Pirates during Game 3 of the National League Division Series. The two sides have split the first two games, with St. Louis winning Game 1 by a score of 9-1 and Pittsburgh taking Game 2 7-1.
After watching the Pirates take Game 3 by a count of 5-3, expect Game 4 to be a pitcher's battle.
22-year-old Michael Wacha was 4-1 with a 2.78 ERA and 65 strikeouts in nine starts and 15 total games played. Against the Pirates, Wacha has made two appearances, going 9.0 innings without allowing a single run.
He won his only start against Pittsburgh, throwing 7.0 innings of scoreless work.
On the opposite end will be 29-year-old Charlie Morton, who was 7-4 with a 3.26 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 20 starts. He struggled against St. Louis, allowing 12 runs in 13.2 innings, but did throw 6.0 innings of two-run work in early August.
Expect to see both players shine in Game 4.
Wacha and Morton are different players, but both can be trusted to step in and shine for their respective teams. With the series on the line, the pressure will mount, but this is the time in which postseason legends are born.
Look for this one to come down to clutch hitting.
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