Welcome to October
Several of baseball's brightest young starts — Shohei Ohtani, Fernando Tatis Jr., Juan Soto, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. among them — will miss out on the postseason this year. But to make up for it, a slew of familiar faces will take center stage.
First, 37-year-old Max Scherzer will start for the Los Angeles Dodgers in Wednesday's National League Wild Card Game against his contemporary, 40-year-old Adam Wainwright, who will be taking the mound for the opposing St. Louis Cardinals. Both pitchers are as familiar as you can get with the October spotlight.
Wainwright's catcher, as always, will be his longtime battery-mate, the 39-year-old Yadier Molina, and Albert Pujols, himself a former Cardinals legend, will suit up for the Dodgers. Pujols may not start against the right-handed Wainwright in the Wild Card game, but if the Dodgers advance, he could play an expanded role the rest of the way since the squad's All-Star first baseman Max Muncy is out for an undertermined amount of time with an elbow injury.
Beyond Wednesday, the surprising San Francisco Giants are driven by a core of resurgent veterans, including catcher Buster Posey and shortstop Brandon Crawford, who first won World Series titles with the club in 2010 and 2012, respectively. Third baseman Evan Longoria hasn't been in the Bay Area as long as those two — or their injured teammate Brandon Belt — but he's been a prominent player in the big leagues since he broke in during the 2008 season.
The American League bracket may feel a bit fresher on the field, but a pair of baseball lifers will be in the dugout during the Houston Astros-Chicago White Sox series, which begins Thursday. Tony La Russa, who managed his first MLB game in 1979, is back at the helm for the Chicago White House after a 10-year hiatus, while Dusty Baker will guide the Astros, his fifth club (all of whom he's taken to the playoffs at least once) in nearly three decades as a skipper.