Daily Dose: Wagner dealt, Santana done

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Tuesday’s headlines were dominated by the Mets, who dealt Billy Wagner to the Red Sox, put Johan Santana on the disabled list in preparation for season-ending elbow surgery, and revealed that J.J. Putz has also been shut down for the year following a setback in his recovery from elbow problems. None of that qualifies as good news, exactly, but some of it is “not horrible” and at this point Mets fans will take even that.
Wagner changed his mind minutes before the Tuesday afternoon deadline to accept a trade to Boston, so New York dumped his remaining salary and $8 million option or $1 million buyout for next season while picking up two players to be named later. To get Wagner’s approval the Red Sox agreed to decline his 2010 option, but will retain the right to offer him arbitration and receive draft-pick compensation if he leaves.
Few teams can afford to drop $3 million on a 38-year-old reliever who returned from Tommy John surgery a week ago and at most the Red Sox could get a dozen or so innings out of Wagner, but he’s certainly a nice luxury item to take a flier on and has looked very capable of making a big impact through two post-surgery appearances. Plus, the draft picks may prove more valuable than the two PTBNLs surrendered.
Meanwhile, fears about Santana needing to go under the knife proved accurate, but rather than anything career-threatening he merely needed bone spurs removed from his elbow. Santana clearly hasn’t been himself of late, managing just 60 strikeouts in his last 101 innings, but underwent the same procedure years ago in Minnesota and bounced back just fine. He should be at full strength in time for spring training.
While the Mets place their 20th player of the season on the DL, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Dexter Fowler has been put on the disabled list after fouling a ball off his right knee during Monday night’s marathon win over the Giants, and with Carlos Gonzalez also sidelined by a hand injury the Rockies called up 24-year-old prospect Eric Young Jr. from Triple-A. Young’s father swiped 465 bases over 15 seasons in the majors and Junior is the same type of player, racking up 58 steals in 119 games at Triple-A.
* Chris Davis returned from the minors Tuesday and the Rangers reportedly plan to give him regular starts at Hank Blalock’s expense. Blalock has hit .199 with a putrid 39/3 K/BB ratio in the second half, so there’s nothing to lose by giving Davis another shot. He’ll always strike out a ton with poor batting averages, but Davis hit .327 in 44 games at Triple-A and is much better than he showed prior to the demotion.
AL Quick Hits: Zack Greinke racked up a Royals record 15 strikeouts in eight innings of two-run ball Tuesday, dropping his ERA to an AL-best 2.43 … Joba Chamberlain allowed seven runs on eight singles, one double, and three walks Tuesday … Ichiro Suzki (calf) sat out his second straight game Tuesday and figures to sit Wednesday too … Jake Peavy (ankle) said Tuesday that he might not be ready to join the White Sox’s rotation this weekend because of elbow soreness … Jacoby Ellsbury swiped his 55th base Tuesday to set a Red Sox record … Carl Crawford (back) is expected to remain sidelined until at least Friday … Jeremy Bonderman (shoulder) tossed two scoreless innings and was reportedly clocked in the mid-90s in a rehab appearance Monday at Triple-A … Jon Lester turned in a Quality Start for the 11th time in 12 tries Tuesday … Delmon Young was 4-for-5 with a walk-off single Tuesday, giving him 15 RBIs in 19 games this month after totaling just 27 through the end of July.
NL Quick Hits: Stephen Strasburg is expected to make his pro debut in the Arizona Fall League … After missing six straight games Freddy Sanchez (shoulder) was put on the disabled list Tuesday, leaving Eugenio Velez to fill in … Carlos Zambrano was rocked for eight runs in Tuesday’s return from the DL … Jordan Schafer will miss the remainder of the season following wrist surgery … Albert Pujols drove in the lone run Tuesday as Adam Wainwright out-dueled Wandy Rodriguez in a 1-0 game … Hiroki Kuroda (concussion) is slated to throw a bullpen session Wednesday, but remains weeks from returning … Andrew McCutchen delivered a walk-off homer Tuesday to hand Brad Lidge his ninth blown save … Jimmy Rollins went deep twice Tuesday, giving him seven homers this month … Gary Sheffield left Tuesday’s game with back tightness … Jake Fox got another start Tuesday as Alfonso Soriano (knee) remained sidelined … Joe Blanton turned in his 11th straight Quality Start on Tuesday.

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)
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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.