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  • Dodgers 3B Justin Turner (hamstring) likely out for postseason
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, October 21, 2021

    Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner exited Game 4 of the National League Championship Series in the seventh inning Wednesday with a left hamstring strain that is expected to sideline him for the remainder of the postseason.

    • Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts told media members after the Dodgers' 9-2 loss that Turner sustained a grade 2 hamstring strain.

      Turner, who has 13 career playoff home runs, grounded into a double play and appeared to be in pain while running halfway up the first base line. He was replaced at third base in the top of the eighth inning by Chris Taylor, who moved in from center field. Steven Souza entered the game in the outfield.

      Turner, who turns 37 next month, also was out of the starting lineup in Game 2 because of neck stiffness. He is 4-for-34 (.118) in 10 games this postseason with just one extra-base hit, a home run in the wild-card victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

      With the Game 4 victory, the Braves hold a 3-1 series lead with Game 5 scheduled for Thursday in Los Angeles.

      --Field Level Media

  • Braves scratch RH Huascar Ynoa for Game 4, replace him on NLCS roster
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, October 20, 2021

    Hours before he was scheduled to start Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Wednesday, Atlanta Braves right-handed pitcher Huascar Ynoa was scratched due to shoulder inflammation.

    • The Braves moved reliever Jesse Chavez into the starter's role against the Los Angeles Dodgers and received approval to replace Ynoa with lefty Dylan Lee on their NLCS roster.

      That swap means Ynoa also is ineligible to rejoin Atlanta's active roster for the World Series, should the club make it there.

      Ynoa, 23, went 4-6 with a 4.05 ERA in his first full regular season as a starter for Atlanta. He had 100 strikeouts against 25 walks in 91 innings over 18 appearances (17 starts). His only appearance this postseason came in one inning of relief in Game 4 of the NL Divisional Series against the Milwaukee Brewers, when he allowed two runs on two hits and a walk in one inning.

      Lee, meanwhile, made his major-league debut earlier this year and has pitched only two innings for Atlanta.

      Chavez will start Wednesday opposite the Dodgers' Julio Urias. Chavez, 38, started four games among 30 appearances during the regular season and went 3-2 with a 2.14 ERA, 36 strikeouts and 11 walks.

      The Braves planned for Game 4 to be a bullpen game, even before Ynoa was scratched, so Chavez likely will work only a few innings at most.

      Atlanta leads the best-of-seven series 2-1 over Los Angeles.

      --Field Level Media

  • Brewers fire hitting coach Andy Haines
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, October 20, 2021

    The Milwaukee Brewers fired hitting coach Andy Haines on Wednesday after three seasons.

    • The Brewers also informed assistant hitting coach Jacob Cruz that he is free to pursue other opportunities. Haines was hired in November 2018 and Cruz joined the Brewers after the 2019 season.

      The Brewers went scoreless in 32 of the 35 postseason innings in which they batted, losing 3-1 in their best-of-five series against Atlanta in the National League Division Series. The Brewers were shut out in Games 2 and 3.

      Since the start of the 2019 season, the Brewers rank 28th in Major League Baseball in batting average (.238), 18th in runs scored and 20th in slugging percentage (.413).

      Prior to joining the Brewers, Haines was the assistant hitting coach for the Chicago Cubs for two seasons and their minor league hitting instructor in 2016.

      --Field Level Media

  • Dodgers favored to even NLCS with Braves in Game 4
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, October 20, 2021

    The Los Angeles Dodgers are back in business, essentially rescuing their season and injecting even more drama into the National League Championship Series with the most unexpected of victories.

    • The Atlanta Braves were five outs away from taking a three-games-to-none stranglehold on the NLCS on Tuesday before the Dodgers revived a stagnant offense that had struggled to deliver in the clutch for much of the postseason.

      Rescued from approaching desperation mode, the Dodgers now will send Julio Urias to the mound in Game 4 on Wednesday in a bid to even the best-of-seven series.

      The Dodgers are 1.5-run favorites at DraftKings, where they are being backed by 63 percent of the bets and 79 percent of the run-line money in Game 4.

      Los Angeles was shut out twice in the NL Division Series against the San Francisco Giants before advancing, then had just two hits in 18 at-bats with runners in scoring position while dropping the first two games of the NLCS to the Braves.

      Aside from a first-inning home run from Corey Seager, the Dodgers were doing next to nothing on offense Tuesday, with the Braves' first World Series berth in 22 seasons appearing closer to a reality.

      But a pair of eighth-inning singles, followed by a stadium-shaking three-run home run from Cody Bellinger off Braves right-hander Luke Jackson, tied the game. Three batters later, Mookie Betts hit a go-ahead double, and the Dodgers were able to steal a 6-5 victory.

      Adding to the unexpected nature of it all was that Los Angeles starter Walker Buehler struggled over 3 2/3 ineffective and unlucky innings before eight relievers combined to slow the Braves the rest of the way.

      Urias, a 20-game winner in the regular season, was used in relief during Game 2, but he was unable to protect a two-run lead in the eighth inning. He returns to his more familiar starting role in Game 4.

      "I think Julio is going to be Julio; he will go out and try to give us a chance to win," Betts said. "It's just our job to put up some runs and give him an opportunity to put up some zeros."

      In four career regular-season appearances against the Braves (two starts), Urias is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in 15 innings. And while he might have stumbled at Atlanta over 14 pitches Sunday, he closed out Game 7 of last year's NLCS against the Braves with three scoreless innings. Urias also won Game 3 of the 2020 NLCS when he limited Atlanta to one run in five innings.

      The Braves will counter with a bullpen game, a prospect that looked especially dicey when starter Charlie Morton was struggling in the first inning of Game 3. The veteran right-hander gave up Seager's first-inning home run, walked the bases loaded and was nearly removed before escaping the jam.

      Morton went on to throw five innings despite walking six batters, and four Atlanta relievers handled the next three innings. Manager Brian Snitker said the club still was deciding who would start Game 4, with Jackson more than ready to redeem himself when called.

      "We walked off the first two games by battling in at-bats and pitchers finding a way," Jackson said. "Everybody has been huge and everybody has done their part, and that's how you win more games in the playoffs."

      Close to a 3-0 lead that would have topped the start they had in last year's NLCS against the Dodgers, Atlanta is now hoping to match its 3-1 advantage from 2020.

      "We feel good. We're confident," Snitker said. "Our guys, every year, are getting more and more battle-tested. We played a really good game out there (Tuesday). A lot of really good things happened, but we don't get one pitch back."

      The 8.0-run Over/Under at DraftKings has seen 75 percent of the bets and a whopping 93 percent of the money back the Over.

      --Field Level Media

  • Red Sox heavily backed to beat Astros in another slugfest
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, October 20, 2021

    BOSTON -- One crooked inning on Tuesday night sent the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox back to square one.

    • Houston erupted for seven runs in the ninth inning en route to a 9-2 victory in Game 4, leveling the best-of-seven American League Championship Series at two games apiece.

      Now a best-of-three between the Astros and Red Sox will decide which team will advance to the World Series, starting with Game 5 on Wednesday night in Boston.

      Boston is a 1.5-run favorite entering Game 5, with 68 percent of the bets and 71 percent of the run-line money backing the Red Sox at DraftKings.

      The Red Sox had outscored the Astros 21-8 while winning Games 2 and 3 to take a 2-1 series advantage.

      Xander Bogaerts' go-ahead, two-run homer in the first inning of Game 4 gave Boston a 2-1 lead that held until Jose Altuve's game-tying solo homer in the eighth inning.

      In the ninth, Jason Castro's two-out RBI single opened the floodgates for the Astros to make it a brand new series.

      "We're all going to bounce back. It's who we are," said Red Sox ace Chris Sale, who will start Game 5. "We're tied now, and we've got one more at home. ... We've got to take this last one, hop on the plane to Houston and take care of business down there."

      Wednesday's game will feature a rematch from the series opener as Astros left-hander Framber Valdez (0-0, 7.71 ERA in the 2021 postseason) opposes Boston southpaw Sale (0-0, 14.73 ERA).

      "It's going to be a fun game, man," Houston shortstop Carlos Correa said. "Sale versus Valdez. You've got two great pitchers. It's gonna be great, so make sure you tune in."

      Neither Valdez nor Sale was effective in Houston's 5-4 victory in Game 1 on Friday.

      Valdez allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits, with three walks and two strikeouts, in 2 2/3 innings. Sale also lasted just 2 2/3 innings while giving up a run on five hits and one walk with two strikeouts.

      Valdez will be making his third start of this postseason. He tossed 4 1/3 innings of four-run, seven-hit ball, with a walk and six strikeouts, in Houston's 9-4 win against the Chicago White Sox in Game 2 of the teams' AL Division Series.

      Despite his struggles this October, Valdez has posted a respectable 3-1 record with a 3.19 ERA in six career postseason games (five starts). In regular-season outings against Boston, the 27-year-old lefty is 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA in four total appearances (two starts).

      Sale has earned his reputation as one of the premier southpaws in the game, but his numbers in the postseason have been far from dominant. In nine career playoff games (six starts), Sale has gone 1-2 with a 6.91 ERA.

      His last start prior to Game 1 did little to reverse that trend, as Sale was pulled after serving up five first-inning runs on four hits -- including a grand slam by Tampa Bay's Jordan Luplow -- in Boston's wild 14-6 comeback win over the Rays in Game 2 of their ALDS.

      The seven-time All-Star has faced Houston in nine regular-season starts, going 5-3 with a 2.20 ERA.

      The 9.5-run Over/Under is the largest of the postseason at DraftKings. But with the teams averaging a combined 12.25 runs per game thus far, the action has been lopsided with 80 percent of the bets and 78 percent of the handle backing the Over.

      --Gethin Coolbaugh, Field Level Media

  • Mets RHP Carlos Carrasco recovering from elbow surgery
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, October 20, 2021

    New York Mets right-hander Carlos Carrasco is recovering from surgery to remove a bone fragment from his right elbow.

    • Team medical director Dr. David Altchek performed the procedure Tuesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.

      According to a statement Wednesday from the team, Carrasco is expected to resume baseball activities later this winter.

      Carrasco, 34, went 1-5 with a 6.04 ERA in 12 starts in his first season with the Mets in 2021. He missed New York's first 102 games after tearing his right hamstring in spring training.

      He played his first 11 seasons (2009-11, 2013-20) with Cleveland, compiling an 88-73 record with a 3.77 ERA in 242 games (195 starts).

      --Field Level Media

  • Braves' new world? Atlanta enters NLCS Game 3 as World Series favorite
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, October 19, 2021

    Up 2-0 in the National League Championship Series on the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Atlanta Braves entered Tuesday as the new favorite to win the World Series.

    • The Dodgers and Astros were near even odds to win the World Series prior to the championship series.

      But Atlanta jumped to +200 at FanDuel and BetMGM and the Boston Red Sox were next at +240. The Dodgers, who host Game 3 on Tuesday, began the day at +290.

      The Astros coughed up 12 runs and the lead in the series on Monday night at Fenway Park. Being battered by Boston in back-to-back games dropped Houston to the fourth spot in World Series-winner odds at +340.

      Prior to Tuesday's games in each best-of-seven series, these were the odds at BetMGM: Boston +250, Dodgers +300 and Houston +360.

      BetMGM had the Dodgers as the +220 favorite to win the World Series last week.

      Los Angeles was -1.5 (+140) in Game 3 but BetMGM had more money coming in on the underdog Braves covering at +1.5.

      Among intriguing game props, the Braves scoring 5-plus runs was +220 and Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts having 5-plus total bases was +425 at BetMGM.

      --Field Level Media

  • Yankees’ DJ Lemahieu has surgery to repair sports hernia
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, October 19, 2021

    New York Yankees infielder DJ Lemahieu underwent surgery to repair a sports hernia and is expected to be ready for spring training.

    • Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Tuesday that Lemahieu's recovery time is anticipated to be eight weeks.

      Cashman also told reporters that right-handed pitcher Jameson Taillon will have surgery on his ankle on Oct. 28 and have a five-month recovery. First baseman Luke Voit (left knee inflammation) also should be ready for spring training.

      Lemahieu, 33, was put on the injured list ahead of Game 162 earlier this month and missed the Yankees' wild-card game against Boston. The three-time All-Star hit .268, his lowest since hitting .267 in 2014. He hit just 10 home runs in 597 at bats; he hit 10 HRs in 216 ABs in 2020.

      Taillon, 29, pitched through a tendon injury in his ankle late in the season. He went 8-6 with a 4.30 ERA in 29 starts. He's likely not going to be ready for the start of the 2022 regular season.

      Also, outfielder Aaron Hicks is almost recovered from a wrist injury and could play winter ball. Hicks played in just 32 games, hitting .194 with four home runs.

      --Field Level Media

  • Yankees bring back manager Aaron Boone on a new contract
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, October 19, 2021

    Aaron Boone will return to manage the New York Yankees in 2022.

    • Boone will receive a three-year deal with an option after leading the Yankees to the postseason in each of his four seasons in New York, the team announced Tuesday. Financial terms were not disclosed.

      "We have a person and manager in Aaron Boone who possesses the baseball acumen and widespread respect in our clubhouse to continue to guide us

      forward," Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement. "As a team and as an organization, we must grow, evolve and improve. We need to get

      better. Period. I know Aaron fully embraces our expectations of success, and I look forward to drawing on his intelligence, instincts and leadership in pursuit

      of our next World Series championship."

      The Yankees, who are 328-218 under Boone, finished third in the American League East this season, before losing to the Boston Red Sox in the wild-card game.

      The Yankees are just 11-11 in the postseason during Boone's tenure and haven't made it past the League Championship Series in that time.

      New York finished 92-70 this season but was just 19th in the majors in runs scored (711) and had MLB's sixth-worst strikeout rate in 2021.

      Boone's contract was due to expire after the World Series. And while Boone received a new deal, some of his coaching staff didn't fare as well. The team didn't renew the contracts of hitting coach Marcus Thames or third-base coach Phil Nevin after the season.

      Boone, 48, replaced Joe Girardi before the 2018 season and finished second in Manager of the Year voting in 2019. He ranks ninth on the team's all-time list in managerial wins.

      The Yankees have not been to a World Series since 2009, and the 12-year drought is the third-longest in franchise history.

      --Field Level Media

  • Shoulder surgery not expected for Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr.
    By Field Level Media / Monday, October 18, 2021

    Despite two separate stints on the injured list because of shoulder issues, San Diego Padres' star Fernando Tatis Jr. is no longer being considered for offseason surgery, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

    • Speculation first centered on Tatis undergoing surgery during the season, but he returned from his second spell on the IL in August to play in the outfield, which was considered less demanding on his shoulder. He returned to the infield for the final few weeks of the regular season.

      Tatis has now elected to skip surgery and will undergo strength exercises to return to full health with an eye toward becoming a full-time shortstop again.

      Tatis first injured the shoulder in April on a swing, then aggravated the injury in late July on a slide. He played a career-high 130 games in his third major league season and hit a National League-leading 42 home runs.

      In 273 career games, Tatis has a .292 batting average with a .965 OPS and has 81 home runs with 195 RBIs. He was a first-time All-Star this season after finishing fourth in NL MVP voting in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

      --Field Level Media

  • Mets' GM search goes on without Billy Beane, David Stearns
    By Field Level Media / Monday, October 18, 2021

    Two top candidates have been eliminated from the New York Mets' general manager search as the Oakland Athletics' Billy Beane withdrew his name for consideration, The Athletic reported Monday, and the Milwaukee Brewers denied permission for David Stearns to interview, according to the New York Post.

    • Beane is not only Oakland's longtime executive vice president of baseball operations but also a minority owner of the A's, which would complicate any move to a different team.

      Stearns, whose roster led the Brewers to a National League Central title this season, was denied permission to interview with the Mets for a second consecutive year.

      "Consistent with how I've handled those questions in the past, I think I'll shy away from any media or external speculation other than to say I'm happy here; my family is happy here," Stearns told reporters last week. "And we've got work to do here."

      Both Beane and Stearns are under contract with their current teams through next season.

      In addition, former Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs executive Theo Epstein removed his name from consideration for the vacant Mets job earlier this month.

      The Mets are attempting a crucial rebuild this winter after a 77-85 showing in 2021. After the club missed the playoffs for the fifth straight season, New York declined the 2022 option on manager Luis Rojas' contract. Rojas went 103-119 in his two seasons as manager.

      In January, the Mets fired general manager Jared Porter after he admitted to sending explicit text messages to female journalists.

      In early September, acting general manager Zack Scott was arrested on a charge of driving while intoxicated. He was placed on administrative leave, and team president Sandy Alderson took over GM responsibilities.

      --Field Level Media

  • More fireworks expected as Astros visit Red Sox for Game 3
    By Field Level Media / Monday, October 18, 2021

    J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers put on a grand display of power on Saturday to help the Boston Red Sox even their American League Championship Series with the Houston Astros at one game apiece.

    • Now the Red Sox will return home to Fenway Park with momentum on their side as they host the Astros for a pivotal Game 3 in their best-of-seven showdown on Monday night.

      Boston is again a 1.5-run underdog, but the public is backing the Red Sox with 67 percent of the bets and 77 percent of the run-line money at DraftKings.

      Martinez and Devers became the first pair of teammates in postseason history to hit grand slams in the same game, doing so in the first and second innings respectively of Boston's decisive 9-5 win in Game 2 on Saturday at Houston.

      "I think we like where we're at," Red Sox reliever Adam Ottavino said Sunday. "I think offensively we feel like we can score against them."

      Boston also got a fourth-inning solo homer from Enrique Hernandez, who continued his torrid month of October with a 2-for-4 performance to make him 16-for-32 (.500) with five home runs and nine RBIs through seven postseason games.

      A career .242 hitter, Hernandez has an MLB-record 15 hits over his last five playoff games and became the first Red Sox batter to homer five times in five postseason games. He has already matched Todd Walker (2003) and David Ortiz (2004 and 2013) for the club record for home runs in a single postseason.

      "I don't know (what's been different for me)," Hernandez told FS1 in a postgame interview. "I guess (I'm) feeling good and the importance of the game is allowing me to stay focused and stay locked in."

      The Astros fought back out of a 9-0 hole on Saturday to make it a four-run game after scoring three in the fourth and two in the ninth. Houston also scored five runs in its series-opening 5-4 win over Boston in Game 1 Friday.

      "We've got to try to figure it out," Houston manager Dusty Baker said. "We won the seventh, eighth and ninth, but those two innings in the beginning -- that's a tremendous mountain to climb."

      Carlos Correa, who was the Game 1 hero with an emphatic tiebreaking solo homer in the seventh, finished 1-for-4 with a strikeout on Saturday. Yuli Gurriel (2-for-4, three RBIs) and pinch hitter Jason Castro (1-for-1) each clubbed solo homers in the Game 2 defeat.

      Already without injured ace Lance McCullers Jr., the Astros' rotation took another blow in the form of an injury to Game 2 starter Luis Garcia. He exited after serving up the grand slam to Martinez, leaving potential Game 4 starter Jake Odorizzi to pitch in a surprise mop-up role.

      "I was caught off guard by it. I think everybody was," Odorizzi said. "I sucked up four innings. That's the best way of putting it. Those can be crucial as we move forward in the series."

      Houston right-hander Jose Urquidy is set to make his postseason debut in a critical spot as he starts Game 3. The 26-year-old had been in line to start Game 4 of the team's AL Division Series against the Chicago White Sox before it was rained out.

      Urquidy went 8-3 with a 3.62 ERA over 20 starts in the regular season. In his postseason career, he is 1-1 with a 2.81 ERA in eight appearances (four starts).

      Boston counters with left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (0-1, 5.40 ERA). The 28-year-old went winless in two playoff starts against Tampa Bay in the ALDS and is 0-1 with a 7.02 ERA in 10 career postseason games (three starts).

      Rodriguez struggled in two regular-season starts against Houston as he went 0-1 with an 11.57 ERA in 9 1/3 innings. Overall, Rodriguez is 1-3 with an 8.53 ERA in six career starts against the Astros.

      The Urquidy-Rodriguez faceoff has led to a high Over/Under of 9.0 runs at DraftKings. And the Over is still the popular choice with 61 percent of the bets and 57 percent of the money supporting it.

      --Field Level Media

  • Darnell Coles joins Nationals as hitting coach
    By Field Level Media / Monday, October 18, 2021

    Former major-league outfielder Darnell Coles is taking over as hitting coach of the Washington Nationals.

    • He replaces Kevin Long, who left the job last week to join the Philadelphia Phillies in the same role.

      Coles, 59, has been a coach on the big-league level since 2014, when he was named assistant hitting coach for the Detroit Tigers. He previously served four seasons (2006-09) in the Nationals organization as a minor-league hitting instructor.

      Most recently, Coles spent three seasons as the hitting coach of the Diamondbacks. He was fired on June 10 amid a 5-30 stretch for Arizona. He did have success there, however, in 2019 when the Diamondbacks hit a club record 220 home runs.

      "We are very excited to add Darnell Coles as our hitting coach," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "We align on hitting philosophy, process and focusing on the here and now. He's not only an outstanding hitting coach, but a great baseball man. Darnell has a great rapport with both veterans and young players and brings a thorough understanding of the analytics that we would like to incorporate."

      Coles spent 14 seasons in the major leagues with the Seattle Mariners, Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants, Cincinnati Reds, Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals and Colorado Rockies. He retired in 1997 with a career .245 batting average.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: MLB clubs to begin paying for minor leaguers’ housing
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, October 17, 2021

    Major League Baseball will require its clubs to provide housing for their minor league players' housing beginning in 2022, ESPN reported Sunday.

    • A league spokesperson told ESPN it is finalizing the details of the plan, which is still not formalized.

      Minor leaguers have been responsible for their own housing for years. Recently they've spoken up more for themselves as they search for better living conditions and salaries.

      MLB raised salaries for minor leaguers this year, but the minimums reportedly still range from $500 a week at Class A to $700 a week at the Triple-A level.

      Minor leaguers are not represented by a union, as the MLB Players Association only covers those in the big leagues.

      The Houston Astros covered the housing expenses for all of their minor league players in 2021 in a first for the sport.

      --Field Level Media

  • Red Sox tab LHP Eduardo Rodriguez to start Game 3 of ALCS
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, October 17, 2021

    The Boston Red Sox named left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez to start Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the visiting Houston Astros on Monday.

    • Rodriguez struggled in two regular-season starts against Houston. He went 0-1 with an 11.57 ERA in 9 1/3 innings and served up homers to Jose Altuve and Yuli Gurriel.

      Overall, Rodriguez is 1-3 with an 8.53 ERA in six career starts against the Astros.

      Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Sunday that he selected Rodriguez over right-hander Nick Pivetta.

      "Nick will be in the bullpen (Monday) and then we'll decide what we're doing in Game 4," Cora said. "We feel like Eddie's throwing the ball well. Nick is throwing the ball well. We'll see where it takes us tomorrow."

      Rodriguez, 28, went 13-8 with a 4.74 ERA in 32 regular-season appearances (31 starts). He made two starts against the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Division Series and went 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA.

      Among the Houston hitters who have enjoyed success against Rodriguez are Carlos Correa (6-for-10), Alex Bregman (5-for-12, two homers) and Altuve (5-for-13, one homer).

      The Astros will start right-hander Jose Urquidy. It will be his first appearance of the postseason.

      Urquidy, 26, went 8-3 with a 3.62 ERA in 20 regular-season starts. He defeated the Red Sox on May 31 in his lone career start against them, giving up one run and three hits and striking out a season-best nine in six innings.

      --Field Level Media

  • Dodgers 3B Justin Turner (neck) not in Game 2 lineup
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, October 17, 2021

    Justin Turner's streak of 77 consecutive postseason starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers ended Sunday.

    • The veteran third baseman has a stinger in the right side of his neck and was not in the lineup for Game 2 of the National League Championship Series in Atlanta.

      Chris Taylor was scheduled to start at the hot corner for Los Angeles.

      Manager Dave Roberts said Turner's injury occurred during batting practice before the Dodgers' 3-2 loss to the Braves in Game 1 on Saturday night.

      "We did treat it, and he felt he wanted to give it a go and try to play through it," Roberts said. "He couldn't turn his head to the right. And got through the game, woke up feeling very similar."

      Roberts said Turner could come off the bench for an at-bat on Sunday. He is expected to be back in the lineup for Game 3 in Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon.

      Turner, who singled and struck out twice in four at-bats in Game 1, has started every playoff game for the Dodgers since Game 4 of the 2014 National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

      Turner batted .278 with 27 homers and 87 RBIs in 151 games during the regular season, but he is hitting just .107 with one homer and one RBI in seven postseason games.

      --Field Level Media

  • Dodgers, Max Scherzer favored to even NLCS at Braves in Game 2
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, October 17, 2021

    The Atlanta Braves have a win in their back pocket but Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts believes his team has some offensive momentum as the clubs prepare to meet again in Atlanta in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday night.

    • The Dodgers are scheduled to send ace right-hander Max Scherzer to the mound to duel Braves righty Ian Anderson. Los Angeles is a 1.5-run favorite on the road, with DraftKings setting the Over/Under at 7.5 runs.

      In a game some considered a must-win for the Braves because they had their best pitcher, Max Fried, going against a Dodgers opener, Atlanta used a walk-off single by Austin Riley in the ninth inning for a 3-2 win in Game 1 of the best-of-seven on Saturday.

      Despite having won 18 fewer games than the Dodgers in the regular season, the Braves have the home-field advantage in the series based on the fact they won the NL East, whereas Los Angeles finished second in the West.

      "We got home-field advantage, so to be able to take Game 1 is always huge," Fried said. "Now it's about trying to get a second one (Sunday)."

      Fried survived eight Dodgers hits in six innings to keep the Braves in a 2-2 tie. As well as getting a solo home run from Will Smith in the fourth, Los Angeles put runners in scoring position in three different innings against Fried, and had a pair of singles sandwiching a double play in another.

      But they went just 1-for-6 against Fried, and 1-for-8 in the game, with runners in scoring position.

      Roberts wasn't crazy about the lack of clutch hitting, but noted he's liking more of an unselfish approach his guys are taking at the plate after getting blanked twice in the first three games of their best-of-five win over the San Francisco Giants.

      "We're just trying to fight and win pitches and give ourself a chance," he said. "And if you give yourself a chance, it's better than punching (striking out). We've been doing a much better job of that."

      Scherzer pitched twice in the first round, limiting the Giants to one run on three hits over seven innings in a 1-0 loss in Game 3, before throwing the final inning of the series-clinching, 2-1 win on Thursday.

      The veteran of 25 postseason games struck out 12 in those eight innings.

      Scherzer has never faced the Braves in the postseason, but having been a former rival in the NL East while with the Washington Nationals, he's plenty familiar with Atlanta. He's gone 10-9 against the Braves in 27 lifetime head-to-heads, including 25 starts.

      He has held Braves star Freddie Freeman to a .234 average in 47 career plate appearances, and has allowed just one hit in seven duels with Riley, striking him out three times.

      Anderson saw the Dodgers twice in last year's NLCS, shutting them out on one hit over four innings in an 8-7 win in Game 2, before getting pulled after allowing two runs in three innings in a 4-3 loss in Game 7.

      Will Smith had a two-run single off Anderson in the season-ending loss by the Braves, a game that sent the Dodgers to the World Series.

      The 23-year-old has faced the Dodgers just one other time in his two-year career, that coming in a 9-5 home loss in June in which he was pulled in the fifth inning.

      --Field Level Media

  • Dodgers turn to Corey Knebel to start Game 1 vs. Braves
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, October 16, 2021

    Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Corey Knebel will serve as the presumptive opener for Game 1 of the National League Championship Series against the host Atlanta Braves on Saturday.

    • The Dodgers announced the move just a few hours before the series opener.

      Knebel (0-0, 0.00 ERA) also was named as the late starter on Thursday afternoon for that night's pivotal Game 5 of the NL Division Series against the San Francisco Giants. He struck out one batter and allowed one hit in one scoreless inning versus the Giants.

      Knebel, 29, posted a 4-0 record with a 2.45 ERA in 27 appearances (four starts) this season. He owns a 10-11 record with a 3.23 ERA in 266 career appearances (four starts) with the Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers and Dodgers.

      The decision to start Knebel likely positions Max Scherzer to start Game 2 for the Dodgers. Scherzer pitched the ninth inning in Thursday's victory in Game 5 against San Francisco.

      Left-hander and Los Angeles-area native Max Fried (1-0, 0.00) will start Game 1 for the Braves.

      --Field Level Media

  • Braves RHP Chris Martin added to NLCS roster
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, October 16, 2021

    The Atlanta Braves added right-hander Chris Martin to their National League Championship Series roster ahead of Game 1 against the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night.

    • Infielder Johan Camargo also was added on Saturday morning, while left-hander Dylan Lee and outfielder Terrance Gore were left off the roster for the Braves.

      Martin, 35, posted a 2-4 record with one save and a 3.95 ERA in 46 relief appearances this season.

      Camargo, 27, is 0-for-16 with six strikeouts in 15 games in 2021.

      Braves outfielder Jorge Soler was left off the roster. He was removed after three games of the NL Division Series due to testing positive for COVID-19.

      Soler hit 14 homers in 55 games for Atlanta after being acquired from the Kansas City Royals in late July.

      While the Braves featured 14 position players and 12 pitchers, the Dodgers went with a 13-13 split.

      Los Angeles left-hander David Price did not pitch against the San Francisco Giants despite being listed on the NL Division Series roster. He joined outfielder Billy McKinney in being left off the Dodgers' NLCS roster in favor of left-hander Justin Bruihl and right-hander Evan Phillips.

      MVP candidate Max Muncy was again left off the roster as he recovers from a dislocated left elbow sustained on Oct. 3 in the regular-season finale.

      "Not playing has been one of the worst things. I've had better days," Muncy told reporters. "It's one of those things that it's still really painful and you try and get through it and trying to see where we're at. I've had better days."

      Muncy batted .249 with 36 home runs and 94 RBIs in 144 games. The two-time All-Star is a career .233/.400/.481 hitter in the playoffs.

      Bruihl, 24, is 0-1 with a 2.89 ERA in 21 appearances (two starts) this season.

      Phillips, 27, owns a 1-1 record with a 3.48 ERA in seven relief appearances in 2021.

      --Field Level Media

  • Astros favored but money behind Red Sox in Game 1
    By Field Level Media / Friday, October 15, 2021

    Alex Cora serves as the all-too-convenient tie that binds the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros as the teams head into Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Friday in Houston.

    • Cora, after all, was the Astros' bench coach for their World Series title-winning team in 2017 and the Red Sox's manager during their championship-winning season the following year. His involvement in the cheating scandal has been rehashed ad nauseam, and to his credit, he hasn't shied away from it.

      OK, can we move on? Because there is much more to discuss entering this best-of-seven series.

      Cora, on Thursday, raised a few eyebrows in tabbing Chris Sale (0-0, 45.00 ERA) as the starter for Game 1 against Houston's Framber Valdez (0-0, 8.31) in a battle of left-handers.

      The Astros are 1.5.-run favorites at DraftKings, where 57 percent of the bets are backing Houston but 59 percent of the run-line money has been wagered on Boston.

      Sale, 32, was shelled last Friday, allowing five runs on four hits in one inning of a no-decision against Tampa Bay. Boston responded by winning that contest on its way to dispatching the Rays in four games during the AL Division Series.

      Despite Sale's struggles, Cora expressed confidence in the hurler heading into the series opener.

      "Everybody has to be part of this. We feel comfortable with Chris, with the rest he got," Cora said of Sale, who posted a 5-1 record with a 3.16 ERA in nine starts this season.

      Sale missed both series in June versus Houston as he worked his way back from Tommy John surgery. He is 5-3 with a 2.20 ERA in nine career starts against the Astros.

      Cora also noted right-hander starter Nathan Eovaldi will benefit from receiving an extra day of rest before starting Game 2 on Saturday.

      Speaking of extra rest, Red Sox outfielder and designated hitter J.D. Martinez admitted Thursday the swelling in his ankle has "gone down a lot." The slugger went 7-for-15 with one homer and four RBIs in three games against Tampa Bay in the ALDS.

      The Astros, who won five of the seven meetings against the Red Sox in June, will be making their fifth straight ALCS appearance.

      Valdez, 27, struggled in his lone postseason action last week after posting an 11-6 record with a 3.14 ERA in 22 starts during the regular season. He allowed four runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings of a no-decision against the Chicago White Sox on Friday.

      Valdez owns a 2-1 record with a 1.59 ERA in four career appearances (two starts) against the Red Sox. He has permitted two runs and struck out 18 batters in 14 1/3 innings en route to posting a 2-0 with a 1.26 ERA in two starts versus Boston this season.

      "I know that I've worked really hard to be able to have the results that I have and be able to have the performances that I have, and it means a lot that they have the confidence in me to be a starter for (Friday)," Valdez said through an interpreter.

      The 8.5-run Over/Under has seen lopsided action with 80 percent of the bets and 85 percent of the money backing the Over.

      Luis Garcia will start Game 2 for the Astros. As for Game 3, well, there's a bit of mystery there with fellow right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. left off the ALCS roster due to forearm tightness.

      "Any time you have a pitcher come out with forearm anything, you want to take your precautions and make sure you know exactly what's going on," Houston general manager James Click said Thursday.

      Fellow right-hander Jake Odorizzi was added to fill McCullers' roster spot. Odorizzi was left off Houston's ALDS roster against the White Sox.

      --Field Level Media

  • Astros ace Lance McCullers Jr. (elbow) out of ALCS
    By Field Level Media / Friday, October 15, 2021

    The Houston Astros left ace Lance McCullers Jr. off the 26-man roster for the American League Championship Series because of tightness in the right-hander's pitching elbow.

    • On Tuesday, he started and pitched four innings against the Chicago White Sox in the AL Division Series but was removed when he reported the condition.

      Astros general manager Jim Click said the team is awaiting the results of an MRI.

      The Astros also sent backup catcher Garrett Stubbs to the taxi squad. He didn't play in the ALDS.

      The Astros added a pair of pitchers -- right-hander Jake Odorizzi and lefty Blake Taylor -- to the roster, giving them 13 hurlers for the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox.

      McCullers finished the regular season with a 13-5 record and 3.16 ERA. He started two games in the ALDS, holding the high-scoring White Sox to one run on nine hits in 10 2/3 innings.

      Odorizzi pitched in 24 games (23 starts) for Houston, compiling a 6-7 record and a 4.21 ERA with 91 strikeouts over 104 2/3 innings.

      Taylor was 4-4 with a 3.16 ERA in 51 games in relief.

      Game 1 of the ALCS is set for Friday night in Houston. Astros left-hander Framber Valdez (11-6, 3.14 ERA in regular season) will oppose fellow southpaw Chris Sale (5-1, 3.16) in the opener of the best-of-seven series.

      --Field Level Media

  • Cubs hire Carter Hawkins as GM
    By Field Level Media / Friday, October 15, 2021

    The Chicago Cubs named Carter Hawkins as the franchise's 16th general manager on Friday.

    • Hawkins, 37, spent 14 seasons with the Cleveland Indians, including the last five as assistant general manager.

      He will be formally introduced at a press conference on Monday at Wrigley Field.

      "I am thrilled to bring Carter into our organization," Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said in a news release. "He has earned a fantastic reputation as a leader through hard work, open-mindedness, humility and intelligence. I enjoyed getting to know him throughout the interview process, and it quickly became clear that we share the same passion for team building. I look forward to partnering with him to build the next great Cubs team."

      One of Hawkins' duties with Cleveland was overseeing player development. Entering the offseason, Cleveland has five players listed among the MLB.com's top 100 prospects, tied for the most among major league teams.

      Chicago's general manager post has been vacant for nearly a year.

      Last November, Theo Epstein stepped down as president of baseball operations and was replaced by then-GM Hoyer.

      The others considered for the job reportedly included Tampa Bay Rays vice president of player development Carlos Rodriguez, Minnesota Twins assistant GM Jeremy Zoll and Cleveland VP of player development James Harris.

      The Cubs finished 71-91 and in fourth place in the National League Central in 2021.

      --Field Level Media

  • Things got 'ugly' after controversial call to end NLDS
    By Field Level Media / Friday, October 15, 2021

    The Los Angeles Dodgers' dramatic 2-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants in Game 5 of the National League Division Series ended on a controversial note Thursday night.

    • First base umpire Gabe Morales ruled that San Francisco's Wilmer Flores was unable to check his swing, resulting in strike three for Flores and the end of the Giants' season.

      After the game in San Francisco, Giants fans expressed their displeasure with Morales and the rest of the umpiring crew by throwing cups of beer and other objects, according to NBC Sports Bay Area analyst Shawn Estes, a former pitcher for the Giants and others.

      "We were in the tunnel going onto the field," Estes said. "That's where the umpires leave the field. It got a little ugly there with some of the fans hanging over the railing, throwing beer on the umpires. Wasn't a great sight."

      Morales was asked by a reporter if he felt differently about the call after reviewing the replay.

      Left field umpire Ted Barrett answered for his colleague.

      "Yeah, no, we, yeah, yeah, he doesn't want to say," Barrett said.

      Giants manager Gabe Kapler took the high road when asked about the call, which came with the tying run at first base.

      "Obviously you don't want a game to end like that," Kapler said. "These (umpires) work really hard to make the right calls. Obviously, it's going to be frustrating to have a game end like that. Pretty high-quality batter at the plate who can climb back into the count. ...

      "But there are other reasons we didn't win today's baseball game. That was just the last call of the game."

      The defending World Series champion Dodgers face the Braves in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday night in Atlanta.

      --Field Level Media

  • Red Sox name Chris Sale starter in Game 1 of ALCS
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, October 14, 2021

    The Boston Red Sox named left-hander Chris Sale as the starting pitcher for Friday night's opener of the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros.

    • Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi gets the ball in Game 2 on Saturday. Both games are in Houston.

      Sale opposes Houston southpaw Framber Valdez in Game 1. Right-hander Luis Garcia is scheduled to pitch against Eovaldi in Game 2.

      Sale went 5-1 with a 3.16 ERA in nine starts this season. He returned in August for the first time in nearly two years after undergoing Tommy John surgery in March 2020. Sale struggled in Game 2 of the AL Division Series against Tampa Bay, however, giving up five runs in just one inning.

      He also gave up two runs in 2 1/3 innings against Washington in his final regular-season start on Oct. 3.

      "This says a lot about him and his trust in me," Sale said about manager Alex Cora. "I don't take that lightly. There's no hiding from it, there's no secret. I've been absolutely horrible, probably the two worst starts of my career back-to-back leading up to this."

      Cora has no worries.

      "I don't expect him to come out in the first inning. I expect him to go out there and pitch a good game and give us a chance to win," Cora said.

      Eovaldi has a win and a no-decision in his two postseason starts. He allowed just one run in Boston's wild-card win over the New York Yankees. He gave up two runs in 5.0 innings against the Rays in the ALDS but didn't figure in the decision. He struck out eight in each start.

      Valdez got roughed up in his only postseason start. He allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Chicago White Sox, getting the no-decision as the Astros went on to win Game 2, 9-4.

      Garcia brings a 16.88 postseason ERA into his start after allowing five runs in 2 2/3 innings against the White Sox in Game 3. He also pulled a no-decision in that contest, won by the White Sox 12-6.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Tony La Russa to return to White Sox bench
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, October 14, 2021

    Tony La Russa will return as the Chicago White Sox manager in 2022, ESPN reported Thursday.

    • The report comes the same day that All-Star shortstop Tim Anderson threw his full-throated support behind the 77-year-old skipper.

      "I want him to be back," Anderson said Thursday. "At the end of the day, my decision doesn't really matter. I guess it all depends on what the front office thinks. ... I definitely want him in. I think he did a great job with the way he managed and just being open."

      La Russa led the White Sox to a 93-69 record and a first-place finish in the American League Central. The White Sox were eliminated in four games by the Houston Astros earlier this week in the AL Division Series.

      La Russa had a tumultuous second stint in Chicago before it even started. The White Sox came under fire for hiring La Russa nearly one year ago despite DUI charges that came about in February 2020. He pleaded guilty to a lesser misdemeanor charge last December and was publicly scolded by the White Sox.

      La Russa previously pleaded guilty to a DUI charge in Florida in 2007.

      In May, La Russa admitted to not knowing the extra-inning rule that allowed managers to avoid using a pitcher at second base.

      Also in May, he criticized his own player, Yermin Mercedes, for swinging at a 3-0 pitch with a huge lead. The criticism pitted La Russa against other players -- including Anderson -- in the White Sox clubhouse who came to Mercedes' defense.

      "Everybody thought we weren't going to get along," said Anderson. "But overall, we were talking behind the scenes the whole time. Just for him, the players come first and he makes that known. We're one big family."

      Jose Abreu this week also lobbied for La Russa's return.

      La Russa has won 2,821 games in 36 seasons as a manager with the White Sox (1979-87, 2021), Oakland A's (1986-95) and St. Louis Cardinals (1996-2011). Only Connie Mack posted more managerial wins with 3,731.

      --Field Level Media