The Braves have relied on a cast of unlikely heroes to take the lead over the Dodgers in Game 4 of the NLDS this evening.
After Ronald Belisario took over for Clayton Kershaw in the seventh inning, he gave up a one-out triple to Elliot Johnson down the right field line. Yasiel Puig went into a slide to field the ball in the corner, possibly in an attempt to make a throw to second base, but the ball skipped past him and Johnson was able to scamper to third base. Pinch-hitter Jose Constanza, yes that Jose Constanza, then followed with a go-ahead RBI single to center to give the Braves the lead. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly then turned to J.P. Howell, who was able to wiggle out of a jam to keep the damage to the minimum, but the Braves lead it 3-2 going into the bottom of the seventh.
For all the concern about Freddy Garcia starting tonight, he turned in a very respectable outing, allowing two runs over six innings while striking out six batters. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez will turn to his bullpen to hold the lead and keep the Braves’ season afloat.
The Red Sox are expecting to go to an arbitration hearing with left-handed reliever Fernando Abad, per Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski said there was a “decent chance” a hearing would be necessary after countering Abad’s $2.7 million request with $2 million.
Abad, 31, pitched just 12 2/3 innings for Boston after the club acquired him from Minnesota at the trade deadline last season. The lefty earned a cumulative 3.66 ERA, 4.2 BB/9 and 7.9 SO/9 for the two teams in 2016. He received $1.25 million in 2016 and will remain under club control (through arbitration) in 2017. A $2.7 million salary would be a hefty increase for the veteran reliever, who has seen a significant decline since he put up a 1.57 ERA for the Athletics in 2014 and who has not amassed more than 0.6 fWAR in any single season to date.
While the Red Sox aren’t close to settling with Abad, Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald reports that they may be closing in on a settlement with left-handed starter Drew Pomeranz. Pomeranz filed at $5.7 million, while the Sox felt more comfortable at $3.6 million. The two are expected to meet somewhere in the middle to avoid an arbitration hearing later this winter.
The Braves reportedly have a deal in place with free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that the contract is for one year, $1.5 million with up to $2.5 million in additional incentives.
Suzuki, 33, completed a three-year track with the Twins in 2016, slashing .258/.301/.403 with eight home runs in 373 PA. The veteran backstop likely won’t provide an offensive or defensive upgrade over current starter Tyler Flowers, but should give the Braves some depth at a position they’ve been looking to strengthen since the start of the offseason.
The team has yet to confirm the deal.