NLDS Game 1 lineups: Nationals vs. Cardinals

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Here are the lineups for Game 1 of the NLDS between the Nats and Cards, scheduled for 3:00 p.m. ET:

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS             WASHINGTON NATIONALS
1. Jon Jay, CF                 1. Jayson Werth, RF
2. Carlos Beltran, RF          2. Bryce Harper, CF
3. Matt Holliday, LF           3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4. Allen Craig, 1B             4. Adam LaRoche, 1B
5. Yadier Molina, C            5. Michael Morse, LF
6. David Freese, 3B            6. Ian Desmond, SS
7. Daniel Descalso, 2B         7. Danny Espinosa, 2B
8. Pete Kozma, SS              8. Kurt Suzuki, C
9. Adam Wainwright, RHP        9. Gio Gonzalez, LHP

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny will ride with what became his everyday lineup over the final month of the regular season against Gonzalez, a National League Cy Young Award candidate. It’s a lethal batting order through the first six spots then tails off at Descalso. Kozma posted a shiny .952 OPS in 82 plate appearances after joining the Cardinals on August 31 to replace the injured Rafael Furcal, but he was a .232/.292/.355 hitter in 500 plate appearances before that at Triple-A Memphis. The hotness probably won’t last.

The Nats will also keep things simple, going with their usual starting nine in this NLDS opener in St. Louis. Wainwright boasts a 2.74 career ERA at Busch Stadium, so it could be a tough afternoon for both offenses.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.