Daily Dose: Kinsler Hits DL; Feliz Up

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As Aaron Gleeman ventures his way back from another successful SABR Convention
in Washington, D.C., I’m happy to be your guide to Sunday’s goings-on
in the baseball world. No worries, you’ll be back to your regularly
scheduled Daily Dose soon enough.


There was bad news and good news for Rangers fans on Sunday. While
they took a serious hit with second baseman Ian Kinsler being placed on
the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring, the blow was
softened by news that top prospect Neftali Feliz is on his way from
Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Acquired from the Braves in the Mark Teixeira deal, the 21-year-old
Feliz has garnered tons of attention for his 100+ MPH fastball,
recently averaging 99.4 MPH on his heater during July’s Futures Game.
He was named the organization’s top prospect by Baseball America
over the winter. The Dominican flamethrower began the year as a starter
but recently moved to the RedHawks bullpen in anticipation of a
promotion to the big club, compiling a 2.16 ERA and 20/3 K/BB ratio
over 16 2/3 innings.

Make no mistake, the club still views him as a starting pitcher in
the long-term, but much like fellow blue-chipper Derek Holland, he’ll
cut his teeth in the pen, joining C.J. Wilson, the newly-activated
Frank Francisco and Darren O’Day in a relief corp that was already one
of the best in the American League. Get ready to pounce in keeper

As for Kinsler, he was placed on the disabled list retroactive to
July 29, so it’s conceivable that he could return by the end of next
week. Perhaps a bit of a respite isn’t the worst thing in the world for
Kinsler and the Rangers anyway; since a ridiculous .322/.384/.656
showing in April, Kinsler has hit just .219/.293/.431, including a
lowly .157 batting average in July. Still, fantasy owners will have to
find a replacement for a player who leads all major league second
basemen with 22 stolen bases and is in the top five in homers, RBI and
runs scored. Not the easiest task, but there are plenty of quality
options available in most mixed-leagues (Maicer Izturis, for one).

* After suffering a setback in his recovery last week, Brandon Webb
will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery on Monday. It’s the
culmination of a roller coaster season for Webb, who hasn’t pitched
since Opening Day. Dealing with nagging stiffness and soreness in his
right shoulder, Webb opted for a more conservative approach to his
rehab, rejecting the notion of surgery as recently as last month.

Saying that Webb “exhausted every other course of treatment,”
executive vice president and general manager Josh Byrnes stated that
the team supports his decision for surgery, but it presents quite the
dilemma for the Diamondbacks. The team holds an $8.5 million dollar
option on Webb for 2010, one which they will almost surely decline,
unless the 30-year-old right-hander is given an abnormally optimistic
recovery time. It sounds crazy to say this, but his days in Arizona
might be numbered.

* Scott Downs found himself back on the disabled list on Sunday
after aggravating the same toe injury that cost him nearly three weeks
earlier this season. Downs was brilliant after supplanting B.J. Ryan as
the team’s closer, posting a 1.98 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in 26 games before
injuring the big toe on his left foot while running the bases back on
June 16. He just hasn’t been the same pitcher since returning on July
8, putting up a 9.00 ERA over nine appearances and blowing two out of
three save opportunities. Manager Cito Gaston hinted that the
33-year-old southpaw may have returned a little too soon last time, so
expect the club to show a bit more caution before activating him.

In the meantime, look for Jason Frasor, who stepped in for the
fallen Downs to secure a 6-5 win over the Athletics on Saturday, to get
the majority of save chances. Frasor has a 2.09 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and
35/10 K/BB ratio in 38 2/3 innings this season. He was Gaston’s
go-to-guy during Downs’ earlier stint on the disabled list, notching
two saves. Brandon League may figure in on some nights too, but Frasor
is the clear choice in mixed leagues.

* As I wrote on our Circling the Bases
blog, Victor Martinez entered Sunday’s action batting just .198 since
June 4, but true to form, he went out and tied a career-high with five
hits while driving in four runs as the Red Sox trounced the Orioles
18-10. Martinez was acquired from the Indians on Friday in exchange for
Justin Masterson and minor-league pitchers Nick Hagadone and Bryan
Price. So far, Martinez has started at first base and catcher in his
first two games with Boston. Expect the shuffling to continue. Martinez
joined a crowded 1B/C/DH/3B scenario that includes Jason Varitek, Kevin
Youkilis, Mike Lowell, David Ortiz and the newly-acquired Casey

On it’s face, this looks like a brilliant move by general manager
Theo Epstein. In one fell swoop, he managed to land additional
insurance on Mike Lowell, who is still nursing a hip injury, and Jason
Varitek, who doesn’t have to carry as big of a burden behind the plate
anymore. It may end up being a winning strategy for Boston, but the
biggest losers in this scenario just might be fantasy owners. Be sure
to watch those lineup cards closely, folks.

AL Quick Hits: Melky Cabrera
became the 15th player in Yankees history to hit for the cycle on
Sunday … Orioles 2008 first-round pick Brian Matusz is expected to
make his major league debut on Tuesday against the Tigers … Clay
Buchholz was rocked for seven runs over four-plus innings on Sunday,
continuing to show that he is not yet mixed-league worthy … Melvin
Mora expressed his displeasure with manager Dave Trembley after being
benched on Sunday — the third time in the last four games — saying it
might be time for him to “move on” … J.D. Drew slashed a three-run
double in the top of the first on Sunday, but left in the second inning
with a tight right groin … The Yankees will shuffle their starting
rotation so that Joba Chamberlain can start Thursday’s opener against
the Red Sox … Likewise, Jon Lester is being moved up for a start
against the Rays on Tuesday so that he can face the Yankees …

NL Quick Hits: Corey Hart had
his appendix removed on Sunday and is out indefinitely; Bill Hall will
be recalled from Triple-A Nashville … Freddy Sanchez was 2-for-4 with
an RBI double in his Giants’ debut on Sunday … Chad Billingsley
blanked the Braves over five innings on Sunday before leaving with a
hamstring cramp; he is expected to make his next start … … Jeff
Francoeur has four home runs and 19 RBI in 19 games since joining the
Mets, but just one walk … Scott Rolen left Sunday’s game with the
Rockies after getting plunked in the helmet by Jason Marquis, but
shouldn’t miss any time … In his major league debut on Sunday, Bud
Norris hurled seven shutout innings in a 2-0 win over the Cardinals …
Hanley Ramirez was out of the starting lineup on Sunday after leaving
the night before with a bruised left knee, but appeared as a
pinch-hitter … The Mets activated Gary Sheffield from the disabled
list on Sunday, but relegated him to a bench role …

The Cubs’ NLCS finish was one for the history books

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Chicago Cubs fans hold a sign after the Chicago Cubs defeated 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 Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Cubs obliterated the Dodgers in Game 6 of the NLCS, riding nine shutout innings to their first pennant win since 1945. Here’s what you should know about their historic finish:

  • By virtue of the Cubs’ 71-year World Series drought, Jon Lester and Javier Baez became the club’s first and only postseason MVPs in franchise history. The World Series MVP award was first distributed in 1955, while the NLCS MVP awards have been issued since 1977.
  • Lester and Baez are also the first co-MVPs of the Championship Series since the 1990 Reds celebrated left-hander Randy Myers and right-hander Rob “Nasty Boy” Dibble following the team’s ninth pennant win (per MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch).
  • Anthony Rizzo’s fifth inning solo shot in Game 6 tied him with Miguel Cabrera, Alex Gonzalez, and Kyle Schwarber for the most postseason homers hit at Wrigley Field, with three (per Comcast SportsNet’s Christopher Kamka).
  • Rizzo and Willson Contreras’ home runs were the first Clayton Kershaw had given up in the playoffs since Game 4 of the 2015 NLDS. The twin blasts also accounted for a fifth of the total home runs Kershaw had given up in 2016.
  • Clayton Kershaw’s Game Score of 33 was not only the lowest the left-hander had put up since the start of the 2015 season, but the lowest the Cubs had seen from an opposing pitcher in the postseason since 1989. During Game 4 of the 1989 NLCS, Giants’ right-hander Scott Garrelts pitched 4 2/3 innings with eight hits, four runs, and two homers en route to a 6-4 loss and a 33 Game Score.
  • By contrast, Kyle Hendricks’ Game Score of 86 was the third-highest among Cubs’ postseason starters, ranking just below Jake Arrieta’s 11-strikeout complete game during the 2015 wild card tiebreaker and Orval Overall’s three-hitter in Game 5 of the 1908 World Series.
  • The last major league season to feature an ERA leader on the Cubs’ roster was 1945, also the last season in which the Cubs rode to the World Series. In 2016, the MLB ERA leader is Game 6 winner Kyle Hendricks (2.13 ERA); in ‘45, it was left-hander Ray Prim (2.40 ERA), who capped a dominant year with a loss against the Tigers in Game 4 of the World Series and blown save in Game 6.
  • Not to be overlooked in the lefty’s gem on Saturday night: Hendricks and Aroldis Chapman combined to face the minimum number of batters, at 27. According to MLB Stat of the Day, only the 1956 Yankees had also faced the minimum batters in a postseason game, though they did it with just a bit more panache.
  • With Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, Albert Almora Jr., Javier Baez, and Addison Russell penciled into the lineup, the Cubs became the first MLB team to utilize five starters under 25 years old to clinch the NLCS (also via MLB Stat of the Day).
  • If you want to talk postseason drought, the Cubs-Indians World Series will set a precedent for combined championship-less streaks, at 174 years between the two clubs (per ESPN Stats & Info).
  • Speaking of unpleasant streaks, there’s this: with the Dodgers’ loss in the NLCS, they’ve now gone to the postseason four consecutive times without participating in a World Series showdown. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, that’s a first in major league history.


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: