Daily Dose: Brewers add Lopez at second base

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Craig Counsell and Casey McGehee have done a nice job platooning at
second base following Rickie Weeks’ season-ending wrist surgery, but
the Brewers went for a change anyway Sunday by acquiring Felipe Lopez
from the Diamondbacks for a pair of marginal prospects in Cole
Gillespie and Roque Mercedes. Lopez hit .305/.368/.416 in 84 games with
Arizona after batting .283/.347/.387 last season.

While not necessarily an upgrade over the previous second-base
platoon, Lopez potentially enables the Brewers to shift the
Counsell-McGehee duo to third base while phasing rookie Mat Gamel out
of the action and perhaps even back to the minors. Gamel has hit just
.239/.339/.413 through 127 plate appearances, which along with his poor
defense made him a weak spot in the short term.

Moving away from Arizona’s hitter-friendly ballpark hurts Lopez, but
he figures to continue leading off in Milwaukee and could be given a
chance to run more after swiping just six bases in nine tries. Ryan
Roberts is expected to replace Lopez in Arizona, but doesn’t offer real
fantasy value and the other in-house alternative is the similarly
underwhelming Augie Ojeda.

While Lopez joins his fifth NL team since 2006, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Joel Zumaya coughed up multiple runs Friday for the fourth time in
his last nine appearances, but more importantly came out of the game
after hearing a “pop” in his shoulder. He was immediately placed on the
disabled list and an MRI exam revealed that Zumaya aggravated the
stress fracture that shut him down for the final six weeks of last
season and delayed his debut for three weeks this year.

Zumaya never ceased lighting up radar guns and actually threw harder
than ever prior to the latest setback, averaging a career-high 99.3
miles per hour with his fastball. The other good news is that a stress
fracture is less troubling that a torn labrum or rotator cuff in terms
of his long-term outlook, although at this point he’s been on and off
the disabled list for three years and is likely done until 2010.

* Ramon Hernandez has been disappointing for the Reds, batting
.249/.330/.355 in 77 games while managing just five homers and 12
doubles in 273 at-bats after coming over in the winter trade that
cleared room for Matt Wieters in the Orioles’ lineup. And now he won’t
have a chance to improve his stats in the second half, as the team
announced Sunday that he’ll miss 4-6 weeks following knee surgery.

Hernandez being sidelined may not be such a bad thing for the Reds’
offense, as Ryan Hanigan has hit .307/.399/.385 in 285 plate
appearances of backup duties during the past two years. He’s not that
good, but Hanigan also posted a similar .296/.376/.378 line in 125
games at Triple-A and can definitely get on base at a better clip than
Hernandez. However, lack of power limits his fantasy upside.

AL Quick Hits: With trade rumors swirling, Roy Halladay allowed
one run Sunday in a complete-game win over the Red Sox … Brett Anderson
tossed eight scoreless innings Sunday, but got a no-decision against
John Lackey’s nine shutout frames … Ichiro Suzuki reached base four
times and made a game-saving catch in the ninth inning Sunday … Luke
Hochevar had a career-high nine strikeouts versus zero walks in a
no-decision Sunday … Edwin Jackson took another tough-luck loss Sunday,
falling to 7-5 despite a 2.52 ERA that ranks third in the AL … Mark
Grudzielanek could get a look at second base in Minnesota
soon after inking a minor-league deal Sunday … Joba Chamberlain
rebounded from an ugly stretch by striking out eight while allowing one
run in 6.2 innings Sunday … Jacoby Ellsbury returned to the lineup
Sunday after sitting out two games with the flu, but went 0-for-4
against Halladay.

NL Quick Hits: Jake Fox went 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs
while subbing for Aramis Ramirez at third base Sunday … Joel Pineiro
kept rolling with seven innings of one-run ball Sunday, slicing his ERA
to 3.09 … J.A. Happ improved to 7-0 with seven shutout innings Sunday …
Mark DeRosa went 0-for-2 with a walk Sunday, making him hitless in 15
at-bats since being dealt to St. Louis … Jimmy Rollins is batting .377
this month after notching three hits Sunday … Scott Olsen (shoulder) is
scheduled to be examined Monday by Dr. James Andrews … Matt Cain picked
up his 11th win with seven frames of one-run ball Sunday … Alfonso
Soriano homered for the second straight game Sunday after coming back
from a dislocated finger … Andrew Miller tossed just 29 of 65 pitches
for strikes while failing to make it out of the third inning Sunday …
Rick Ankiel (shoulder) will play on despite an MRI exam revealing what
Tony La Russa called “some issues.”

The Cubs clinch World Series berth with NLCS Game 6 win

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  The Chicago Cubs celebrate defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in game six of the National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
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After 71 years, the Cubs are headed back to the Fall Classic.

The dominance with which Clayton Kershaw attacked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS was nonexistent in Game 6 as the Dodgers’ ace loaded the bases to start the first inning and scattered five extra bases and five runs over five frames. By the time Dave Roberts pulled his starter in the sixth inning, Kershaw was sitting on a Game Score of 33, the lowest he’s mustered since the start of the 2015 season. Only one of his strikes came via curveball, and whether he was having difficulty locating his off-speed stuff or felt more confident with the fastball-slider combo, it was the fewest curves he’d seen land for strikes all year (per David Adler).

Where the Dodgers were able to give Kershaw the edge in Game 2, they found themselves powerless against opposing hurler Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks turned out 7 1/3 scoreless frames with two hits and six strikeouts, preserving the Cubs’ second shutout of the postseason and the first since they bested the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. After his 1-0 loss to the Dodgers early in the NLCS, seeing the MLB ERA leader turn out a gem was a relief for the Cubs, especially one as spectacular as an 88-pitch two-hitter.

With Hendricks effectively stymieing the Dodgers’ best attempts to get on base, the Cubs played to their strengths at the plate. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist cleared the bases in the first inning for a two-run lead, followed by a Dexter Fowler RBI single in the second. Willson Contreras came through in the fourth inning for the Cubs, lifting an 87 m.p.h. slider to left field for his first home run of October, while Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth.

Neither bullpen allowed a single run from the sixth inning onward. Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen took the ball from Kershaw in the sixth, scattering four strikeouts over three innings and denying the Cubs so much as a single baserunner through the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, meanwhile, issued just one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless frames, inducing a Yasiel Puig double play to clinch the Cubs’ 17th franchise pennant.

With the win, the Cubs will face off against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8 PM EDT. And, in case you needed a reminder:

Video: Willson Contreras blasts first postseason home run off of Kershaw

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game six of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Getty Images

So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.

According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).

Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.