Jake Peavy

Red Sox, White Sox, Tigers finalize three-team Jake Peavy deal


It’s official. The Red Sox have acquired Jake Peavy from the White Sox and reliever Brayan Villarreal from the Tigers as part of a three-team trade. The Tigers picked up shortstop Jose Iglesias from Boston. The White Sox are getting outfielder Avisail Garcia from the Tigers and three lower level prospects from the Red Sox: shortstop Cleuluis Rondon, RHP Francellis Montas and RHP Jeffrey Wendelken.

The addition of Peavy, who is owed $14.5 million next year, gives Boston added protection in case Clay Buchholz struggles to return from his neck problems down the stretch. It’s expensive insurance, though, with no guarantee that Peavy is much of an upgrade over Ryan Dempster or Felix Doubront in a projected four-man postseason rotation that also includes Buchholz, Jon Lester and John Lackey. Of course, the Red Sox have to worry about reaching the postseason first.

Peavy is 8-4 with a 4.28 ERA and a 76/17 K/BB ratio over 80 innings in 13 starts this season. He missed time earlier in the year with a broken rib. His biggest problem has been the home run ball  — he’s allowed 14 — but switching from U.S. Cellular to Fenway will help there.

Iglesias, a Rookie of the Year candidate who was hitting .330/.377/.409 in 215 at-bats for the Red Sox, makes a great deal of sense for Detroit with Jhonny Peralta facing a Biogenesis suspension of at least 50 games. He gives the Tigers the rangy shortstop they need to put next to Miguel Cabrera, and while Peralta may get his job back at the very end of the year, there’s little doubt that it’ll be Iglesias next year, with Peralta presumably moving on in free agency.

The 22-year-old Garcia was talked up last year as a big piece of the Tigers’ future. His resemblance to Cabrera in the batter’s box probably helped in that regard. This year, he had hit .382/.414/.549 in 144 at-bats in Triple-A, but just .241/.273/.373 in 83 at-bats in the majors, and the Tigers deemed him expendable with fellow outfield prospect Nick Castellanos also knocking on the door. Plate discipline is an issue for Garcia, and while scouts expect his power to come, his high home run total in six minor league seasons is 14. Whether the White Sox use him right away could hinge on an Alex Rios deal. For now, though, he’s been optioned to Triple-A Charlotte.

The departure of Iglesias makes third base a question mark for Boston, fueling rumors that a deal for the Phillies’ Michael Young could follow. Barring a trade, the Red Sox will have to decide whether to promote Will Middlebrooks, Brock Holt or No. 1 prospect Xander Bogaerts from Triple-A to pair with or, more likely, start over Brandon Snyder at third. Bogaerts, a natural shortstop, is outhitting Middlebrooks in Triple-A, but he’s played just five games at third since getting a look there earlier in the month. The Red Sox also now have to weigh in the fact that Bogaerts is again clearly the shortstop of the future with Iglesias gone.

Villarreal, going from Detroit to Boston, has a 4.56 ERA and an 86/46 K/BB ratio in 75 innings as a major leaguer. He seemed to be on his way to emerging as a key piece in the Tigers bullpen last year, but control became an especially big problem late and he was left off the postseason roster. This year has been a disaster for him, but the fresh start could do him some good. He throws 94-98 mph, so he has some upside as a short reliever.

None of the prospects going from Boston to Chicago were viewed as key pieces of the Red Sox system. Rondon, 19, was hitting .276/.326/.350 in short-season ball. Montas, 20, was 2-9 with a 5.70 ERA and a 96/32 K/BB ratio in 85 1/3 innings as a starter for low Single-A Greenville. Wendelken, 20, had a 2.77 ERA and a 54/20 K/BB ratio in 65 innings as a reliever in low-A ball.

Playoff Reset: Four games in one day!

Cole Hamels
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Oh baby.

There’s baseball from noon to midnight today, with a pair of Game 2s in the American League and a pair of Game 1s in the National League.

Tons of great starting pitchers–including the best in the world and a trio of big-name trade deadline acquisitions–and we’ll find out if a home team can actually win a game after starting the playoffs 0-4.

The Game: Texas Rangers vs. Toronto Blue Jays
The Time: 12:45 PM Eastern
The Place: Rogers Centre, Toronto
The Channel: MLB Network
The Starters: Cole Hamels vs. Marcus Stroman
The Upshot: Stroman coming back from what was deemed a season-ending knee injury in spring training to start Game 2 of the ALDS is a helluva story and the Blue Jays need him to come up big after David Price failed to do his part in Game 1. Yovani Gallardo somehow wriggled out of trouble against Toronto’s scary lineup, but as a left-hander Hamels has an even tougher assignment versus the never-ending right-handed power. Assuming it’s all in the lineup, of course. There are big health question marks for both sides, as Adrian Beltre, Josh Donaldson, and Jose Bautista all exited Game 1 with injuries and their respective statuses could swing the balance of power in the series.

The Game: Houston Astros vs. Kansas City Royals
The Time: 3:45 PM Eastern
The Place: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City
The Channel: FOX Sports 1
The Starters: Scott Kazmir vs. Johnny Cueto
The Upshot: Two headline-grabbing trade deadline pickups with a lot to prove, as Kazmir and Cueto both struggled for their new teams. Cueto was bumped back to Game 2 after being acquired to front the Royals’ rotation and there was some speculation that Kazmir might not even have a spot in the ALDS rotation. Kansas City losing Game 1 last night and Houston having Dallas Keuchel waiting in the wings for Game 3 puts a ton of pressure on Cueto’s shoulders. Generally one of the toughest pitchers to homer against, he allowed 10 homers in 13 starts for the Royals and the Astros’ power-packed lineup will put him to the test all afternoon. Can the defending AL champs get off the mat quickly or will they head to Houston in need of a win to keep the season alive?

The Game: Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals
The Time: 6:45 PM Eastern
The Place: Busch Stadium, St. Louis
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Jon Lester vs. John Lackey
The Upshot: Former Red Sox teammates Lester and Lackey square off in Game 1 of the first ever playoff series between two of the biggest rivals in baseball, with the Cubs fresh off their Wild Card game triumph over the Pirates and the Cardinals coming off an MLB-high 100 wins. Yadier Molina‘s ability to play through a thumb injury will be key for the Cardinals and it’ll also be interesting to see how much faith manager Mike Matheny has in Adam Wainwright to get late-inning outs as a reliever after returning from a torn Achilles’ tendon.

The Game: New York Mets vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Time: 9:45 PM Eastern
The Place: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Jacob deGrom vs. Clayton Kershaw
The Upshot: Quite a way to finish an entire day of baseball, as the Mets go looking for their first playoff win since 2006 and Kershaw tries to cement his legacy as an all-time great by dominating in the playoffs like he does in the regular season. And don’t overlook deGrom, because last year’s Rookie of the Year winner has a 2.61 ERA and 349 strikeouts in 331 innings since debuting last May. Among all starters with at least 300 innings during the past two seasons Kershaw ranks first in ERA and deGrom ranks fourth, with Jake Arrieta and Zack Greinke in the 2-3 slots. This is a speculator pitching matchup.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.