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Will the Giants get the good or bad Madison Bumgarner in Game 2 tonight?

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Madison Bumgarner was bumped from the Giants’ rotation in the NLCS after back-to-back poor playoff starts in which he failed to make it out of the fifth inning, but manager Bruce Bochy is putting his faith in the 23-year-old left-hander tonight.

Bochy chose Bumgarner to make the Game 2 start rather than Tim Lincecum, who was used in relief of Barry Zito in Game 1 last night and has been brilliant for the Giants out of the bullpen all postseason.

Bumgarner has been anything but brilliant as a starter, allowing opponents to hit .385 off him while coughing up 10 runs in eight innings, and he also struggled down the stretch with a 5.89 ERA in his final seven regular season starts.

So why is Bochy trusting Bumgarner in Game 2? Well, for one thing he’s been one of the best left-handers in baseball since joining the rotation in mid-2010 and was the Giants’ second-best starter overall this season, throwing 208 innings with a 3.37 ERA and 191/49 K/BB ratio. And last time Bumgarner took the mound in the World Series he shut out the Rangers for eight innings in Game 4 two years ago, allowing just three hits in one of the best postseason performances ever by a 22-year-old.

“I feel good about Madison,” Bochy said, via Lyle Spencer of MLB.com. “He’s had a great year. He’s done a great job for us since he’s been up here, including postseason. This is a small sample on a couple hiccups he had earlier, and I think he’s getting some much-needed rest and some time to work on making a couple adjustments in his delivery.”

Bochy and the Giants think Bumgarner has corrected some mechanical issues that hurt his performance. Pitching coach Dave Righetti studied video with Bumgarner, who found that he’d been reaching further back in his delivery than usual. “I think throwing the way I was throwing was causing a lot more stress on my body, and that was causing me to tire out more quickly,” Bumgarner said, via Jane Lee of MLB.com. “We got that all worked out now, I think.”

Of course, Jose Valverde also claimed to have corrected a mechanical issue between the ALCS and World Series, and … well, saw how that worked out last night. Bumgarner last started 11 days ago, but he’s been throwing bullpen sessions to stay sharp since then and declared himself “good and ready to go.”

Report: Cardinals are scouting Cuban outfielder Luis Robert

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.

There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.

Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.

Cubs extend Pedro Strop through 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25:  Pedro Strop #46 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game One of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.

Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.

The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.

Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.