Last night’s rainout in St. Louis could dramatically change the pitching plans for Game 7, but the Cardinals will have to get there first by winning tonight’s Colby Lewis-Jaime Garcia matchup.
They faced off in Game 2, combining for 13.2 innings of one-run ball. Garcia exited after seven shutout innings with a 1-0 lead, but the Rangers scored two runs in the ninth inning off Jason Motte to grab the victory.
Lewis has been excellent for the Rangers nearly every time out in the playoffs, both this season and last season, combining to make seven postseason starts with a 2.22 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 45 innings. Texas is 5-2 in those seven games and Lewis allowed more than two runs just once, coughing up four runs to the Tigers in Game 3 of the ALCS.
Garcia’s postseason track record is limited to four starts this year and his performance has been a mixed bag. He turned in a stinker against the Brewers in Game 1 of the NLCS and was yanked early in Game 5 of that series, but also tossed a Quality Start versus the Phillies in Game 3 of the NLDS and shut out the Rangers for seven frames in his last appearance.
On paper at least it looks like a pitchers’ duel and a very close matchup, with the gamblings odds pegging the Cardinals as slight favorites at home. Clear skies are expected for tonight (and tomorrow night) and like four of the first five games in the series Lewis vs. Garcia looks likely to be another tight, low-scoring game that may come down to the fully rested relievers. Hopefully the Cardinals’ bullpen phone is working.
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.
Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.
The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.
Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.
The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.
The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.
While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.