Both starting pitchers have now been announced for tonight’s Game 4 of the World Series, as the Braves have revealed that rookie left-hander Dylan Lee will get the ball to begin what is expected to be a bullpen game against the Astros. For Houston, manager Dusty Baker confirmed last night that Zack Greinke will start, with Greinke also likely in line for an abbreviated outing.
While both pitchers can probably be more accurately described as openers rather than true starters for tonight’s game, the Lee/Greinke matchup represents quite a contrast in experience. Greinke has 18 MLB seasons, 3110 regular-season innings, and 21 postseason appearances on his resume. On the other side of the equation, the 27-year-old Lee didn’t make his Major League debut until October 1, and he has thus far pitched a total of two regular-season innings and 2 2/3 postseason innings in his brief career in The Show.
Lee was included on Atlanta’s NLDS roster but didn’t see any action, and he wasn’t initially on the NLCS roster until Huascar Ynoa had to be replaced due to injury. Lee pitched two frames of relief in the Braves’ 11-2 loss to the Dodgers in Game 5 of the NLCS, and he then pitched two-thirds of an inning against the Astros in Game 2 of the World Series.
Originally a tenth-round pick for the Marlins in the 2016 draft, Lee posted some solid numbers in his first four pro season, but Miami released him during Spring Training this year. The Braves inked Lee to a minor league deal, and he responded with some big numbers (1.54 ERA, 30.9% strikeout rate, and a tiny 3.4% walk rate) over 46 2/3 Triple-A innings.
Now, Lee finds himself on the hill in the Fall Classic, becoming the first pitcher to ever make his first Major League start in a Series game (as per the Elias Sports Bureau). Lee will face a probable top three of Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, and Alex Bregman, assuming the Astros stick with the same lineup they’ve deployed throughout the World Series.
Between injuries, two weeks on the COVID-related injured list, and a general lack of effectiveness late in the season, Greinke has been limited to two appearances during the playoffs. He tossed an inning of relief in Houston’s 12-6 loss to the White Sox in the ALDS, and then got the start against the Red Sox in Game 4 of the ALCS. Though the Astros won that game by a 9-2 margin, Greinke only faced nine batters over 1 1/3 innings, walking three batters and allowing a two-run homer to Xander Bogaerts.
These recent results notwithstanding, “if anybody knows how to pitch in a big game, it’s Greinke,” Baker told reporters yesterday. “We don’t know how long he’s going to go. Just give us as much quality as you can, and then we’ll turn it over to somebody else.” Cristian Javier is probably the likeliest candidate to toss bulk innings tonight, as the righty has worked beyond one innings in each of his four postseason outings this year, including 1 1/3 innings against Atlanta in Game 2.