Mariners sign Garko to platoon with Kotchman

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Non-tendered by the Giants in December when he would have been in line for about $2 million via arbitration, Ryan Garko has signed a one-year deal with the Mariners worth $550,000 and another $525,000 in potential incentives.
Garko isn’t much of a defender and his bat is mediocre against right-handers, but he crushes left-handers and makes for a nice platoon partner for Casey Kotchman. Garko’s hit .313/.392/.495 versus lefties in his career compared to .277/.334/.378 for Kotchman, and he’s certainly decent enough versus righties to be a full-time option if needed.
By adding Garko (and fellow platoon bat Eric Byrnes) the Mariners seem quite a bit more likely to enter the season with only 11 pitchers, although the fact that an 11-man pitching now qualifies as “only” is very disturbing to me. There’s no real need for seven relievers anyway, so adding Garko to boost the lineup versus lefties makes plenty of sense and the price is certainly right. Another shrewd, low-cost pickup for Seattle.

World Series Game 1 will feature Dallas Keuchel vs. Clayton Kershaw

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The Dodgers and Astros have selected their starters for Game 1 of the World Series. Left-hander Dallas Keuchel will open the series for the Astros, while fellow lefty Clayton Kershaw will take the mound for the first of two home games at Dodger Stadium.

Keuchel, 29, has been a steady presence for the Astros this postseason. He clinched Game 2 of the ALDS with 5 2/3 innings of one-run, seven-strikeout ball against the Red Sox and returned for his second postseason win with seven scoreless innings against the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS. He was outmatched in Game 5 of the Championship Series, however, scattering four runs and eight strikeouts across 4 2/3 innings while the Yankees worked their way up to a 5-0 shutout. Nevertheless, he’s perhaps the Astros’ strongest arm behind ALCS MVP Justin Verlander and has not surrendered a single home run in 17 1/3 consecutive innings this postseason.

Kershaw, on the other hand, has had a less consistent track record in the playoffs. While his postseason yips have been well-documented thus far, his struggles on the mound haven’t always led to disaster — at least not this time around. The Dodgers are 3-0 in all three of Kershaw’s starts this month and enjoyed a quality start from their ace during Game 5 of the NLCS last Thursday. The 29-year-old southpaw recorded his second win of the playoffs with a run, three hits, a walk and five strikeouts over six innings. Unlike Keuchel, he’s given up a home run in each of his outings to date (and four homers in Game 1 of the NLDS).

Game 1 is set for Tuesday evening at 8:00 PM ET. The Dodgers have home field advantage through Games 1 and 2 before the series moves to Houston, and will try to capitalize on that advantage in order to extend their postseason winning streak at Dodger Stadium. They’re 4-0 at home and 3-1 on the road this October, while the Astros boast a 6-0 advantage in Houston and a significantly less impressive 1-4 record away from home.