Looking ahead to NLDS Game 3: Braves-Dodgers

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The Cardinals and Pirates will open this day of postseason baseball at 4:30 p.m. ET in Pittsburgh. As those two National League Central teams are wrapping things up at PNC Park, the Braves and Dodgers — tied at 1-1 in their best-of-five — will be preparing to get Game 3 underway in Los Angeles. Let’s preview the action-to-come at Dodger Stadium.

Julio Teheran earned a spot in Atlanta’s starting rotation with a sensational spring and kept right on rolling through the regular season, posting a 3.20 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 170/45 K/BB ratio in 185 2/3 frames. The 22-year-old righty from Colombia boasts a mid-to-low 90s fastball that he throws on over 63 percent of his deliveries and a slider, curve and changeup that carry varying degrees of effectiveness. Teheran was ranked a Top 100 prospect by Baseball America in four different preseasons and has the raw goods to put up zeroes at any time against any lineup. But he’s one of the youngest starters in this tournament and this will be his first time pitching in an October game.

Also pitching for the first time in the Major League Baseball playoffs will be Dodgers Game 3 starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, a 26-year-old offseason import from South Korea. It seemed like an overpay when the Dodgers put up a $25.74 million posting fee for Ryu in November and then handed the left-hander a six-year, $36 million contract. But 11 months later that deal looks like a bargain. Ryu registered a superb 3.00 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 154/49 K/BB ratio over his first 192 major league innings this season and the conditioning concerns that arose early in spring camp never developed into anything more than baseball blog fodder.

Ryu was spotted wearing a sleeve on his left elbow last week and he threw a bullpen session Friday in front of team surgeon Neal ElAttrache, medical director Stan Conte and manager Don Mattingly. But the Dodgers are denying that there is an injury and Ryu reported feeling completely fine after his Friday workout.

The lineups should be posted at some point this afternoon. We wouldn’t expect any big surprises.

Kolten Wong lashes out after losing his starting role with the Cardinals

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Kolten Wong is no longer the only second baseman being considered for a starting role on the Cardinals’ roster, and he’s not happy about it. On Saturday, GM John Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny hinted that Wong could lose playing time to Jedd Gyorko or Greg Garcia in 2017 — in other words, an infielder who brings a little more pop at the plate. Prior to the Cardinals’ game against the Marlins on Sunday, Wong gave his heated response to the media. Via Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

I don’t think you give somebody a contract for no reason,” Wong said. “When you are given a contract, you are expected to get a chance to work through some things and figure yourself out. Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, all these guys never figured their stuff out until later on down the road. It’s the big leagues. It’s tough, man. For me, the biggest thing is I just need people to have my back. When that comes, it will be good. But, I think right now, it’s just staying with my play, understanding I’m working toward getting myself more consistent, understanding what kind of player I can be. If that’s going to be with another team, so be it.

When pressed, Wong said that he would rather be traded away from St. Louis than step into a limited role with the team. “I don’t want to be here wasting my time,” he told the press. “I know what kind of player I am. If I don’t have the belief here, then I’ll go somewhere else.” The 26-year-old was inked to a five-year, $25.5 million extension prior to the 2016 season, complete with a $12.5 million option and $1 million buyout.

Part of Wong’s frustration stems from the Cardinals’ backtracking on their stated commitment to him as their starting second baseman last winter. Mozeliak admitted that while Wong had the defensive tools necessary to hold down the position, he failed to impress at the plate. It’s an argument that Wong hasn’t been able to rebut this spring, going 8-for-44 with two extra bases and 10 strikeouts in camp. He hasn’t looked much better in the regular season, sustaining a career .248/.309/.370 batting line with a .678 OPS and 5.1 fWAR over four years with the organization.

Still, the second baseman feels that he should have been given some heads up that he was playing to keep his starting role this spring, admitting that he entered camp with the mentality of someone who had a guaranteed spot on the Cardinals’ roster and not someone whose job security was dependent on his day-to-day results. “I need the time to consistently figure out how to be me and succeed at this level,” said Wong. “Everybody goes through it. Not everybody is Mike Trout.”

The Tigers are trying to convert Anthony Gose into a pitcher

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Tigers’ center fielder Anthony Gose wants to try his hand at pitching, according to comments made by manager Brad Ausmus on Sunday. Gose is poised to start the year in Triple-A Toledo after receiving a midseason demotion to Double-A last summer following an altercation with Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon.

While the experiment won’t detract from Gose’s outfield work in Triple-A, the 26-year-old is expected to take on additional bullpen sessions throughout the year. According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck, the left-handed hitter last took the mound in high school, where his fastball was clocked as fast as 97 m.p.h. Gose ultimately rejected the idea of starting his professional career as a pitcher, despite receiving favorable assessments from scouts.

Ausmus said the idea first surfaced at the end of the 2016 season. It appears to be a fallback option for the outfielder, who has struggled at the plate over his five-year career in the majors. Via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:

Doolittle in Oakland did it and he was in the big leagues a couple of years later,” Ausmus said. “It’s going to take some time. He’s going to have to be a sponge and catch up on experience fast. But we feel it’s worth investigating.