LakePoint, Ga. - MLB Wild Card games start on Tuesday and the ASUN Conference will be well represented as four former baseball players are expected to make appearances this October. Corey Kluber (Cleveland Indians) and Daniel Murphy (Washington Nationals) mark their return to the postseason, while Chris Sale (Boston Red Sox) and Alan Busenitz (Minnesota Twins) make their October debuts. Former Stetson catcher and current first base coach Jeff Smith for the Twins also makes his first postseason appearance.
2017 MLB Playoff Schedule Opening Rounds
Wild Card Round
Minnesota Twins at New York Yankees - Oct. 3rd - 8 PM - ESPN
Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks - Oct. 4th - 8 PM - TBS
Division Series Opening Game - Starts Oct. 5th & 6th
Boston Red Sox at Houston Astros - Oct. 5th - 4:08 PM - FS1
AL Wild Card Winner at Cleveland Indians - Oct. 5th - 7:30 PM - FS1
Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals - Oct. 6th - 7:31 PM - TBS
NL Wild Card at Los Angeles Dodgers - Oct. 7th - 9 PM - TBS
Former Stetson standout Corey Kluber, one of the frontrunners for this year's Cy Young, makes his third postseason appearance (all with the Indians). Kluber had a masterful 2017 campaign, as he led the majors in ERA (2.25), WHIP (0.86), walks per nine (1.6) and tied for the lead in wins with 18. His 2.25 ERA is the lowest for an Indians pitcher since Gaylord Perry finished with a 1.92 mark in 1972. He also finished second in the American League in strikeouts with 265. Kluber helped the Indians to an American League best 102 wins, which included a recorded breaking 23-game winning streak. The Indians are the favorites to come out of the AL and return to the World Series for the second-consecutive season. Kluber is scheduled to pitch game two of the ALDS against the winner of the AL Wild Card game.
The 2006 ASUN Player of the Year and Washington Nationals second basemen, Daniel Murphy, makes his third consecutive playoff appearance -- second with the Nationals. Murphy had another strong campaign in 2017. He led the Nats with a .322 average, while socking 23 homers and knocking in 93 RBIs. His .322 average finished just nine points behind Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies for the National League batting title. Murphy was also selected to his second straight All-Star game in 2017. He and the Nats will begin postseason play on Friday night, when they host the defending World Champion Chicago Cubs.
For the first time in his career, Chris Sale will be competing in the postseason after posting one of his best seasons yet. Sale led the majors in strikeouts with 308, becoming the first AL pitcher since Pedro Martinez in 1999 to eclipse the 300 mark. Sale also led the majors in innings pitched (214.1) and strikeouts per nine (12.9). He tied a career best with 17 victories and finished with a 2.90 ERA. Sale was selected to his sixth straight All-Star game where made his second consecutive start. The Red Sox begin their postseason on Thursday afternoon against the Houston Astros, where Chris Sale will be making his first postseason start.
It's been a year of firsts for former Kennesaw State pitcher Alan Busenitz. Busenitz made his major league debut in June, only to be sent down a month later. After a series of trade by the Twins, he was called-up for good in August and quickly planted himself in the Minnesota bullpen. In 28 appearances and 31.2 innings, Busenitz posted a 1.99 ERA, held opposing hitters to a .208 averaging and struck out 23 batters while only walking nine. The Twins face the New York Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday night in New York.