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It's finally happening: the MLB playoffs are officially underway as of 8 p.m. ET Tuesday. As it has since 2012, the Wild Card Game will get things started, this time with the Astros taking on the Yankees in New York. Three hours later -- okay, maybe closer to four, this is a Yankees' game -- one fan base will be devastated, while another will be relieved their team has escaped into the American League Division Series, where it will take on last year's pennant winners, the Kansas City Royals.
Masahiro Tanaka was at one point a question mark to start for the Yankees thanks to a hamstring injury that caused him to miss a turn in the rotation. He'll take the mound against Dallas Keuchel, who led the AL in ERA+ (162), innings (232), shutouts (two) and wins (20), and looks to be a distinct possibility to take home the league's Cy Young award this November.
The Astros have been considered the ones limping into the postseason, as they went 28-30 from August onward and fell to the second wild card after holding the AL West for much of the year. The Yankees didn't exactly storm their way into it, either. New York went 29-31 and lost their seven-game lead in the AL East over the final two-plus months of the season. They've been outscored, 144-134, since September began, whereas the Astros have come out even at 159 in each direction. They might not have finished strong, but their aces are on the mound, and the beauty of the MLB playoffs is that anything can happen once you're there. Ask last year's light-hitting Royals about that, or the Giants, who defeated them in the World Series after playing sub-.500 ball from June onward. By the end of Tuesday, one of these two teams will still have that same chance.
- If the Yankees advance in the postseason, they'll go the rest of the way without CC Sabathia, who entered rehab for alcoholism on Monday. Seeing an athlete put his own health ahead of the team is a rarity, but it's a welcome one, and luckily, the Yankees are being supportive of the decision.
- The Nationals wasted no time in firing Matt Williams on Monday after a disastrous season. Washington didn't really have a choice in the matter.
- Williams was terrible in many ways, but the root cause for his issues came from the man who hired him, as Adam Kilgore details for The Washington Post.
- Jake Arrieta is teasing Pirates fans on Twitter.
- Hawk Harrelson will have a reduced schedule in 2016, which creates opportunities for the White Sox in the broadcast booth.
- Now that Carlos Martinez is injured, the Cardinals need to figure out if John Lackey or Jaime Garcia is their NLDS Game 1 starter.
- The Red Sox earned an unprotected draft pick instead of a protected one, but the reasons that occurred show that this is a good thing for the organization.
- Clayton Kershaw struck out 300 batters, the first time anyone has done so in over a decade. Give this man the Cy Young, writes Grant Brisbee.
- A brief history of Ichiro Suzuki's desire to pitch.
- This is your comprehensive guide to MLB's champagne showers. This is important info, you know, especially since we'll have an elimination on Tuesday.