Third base has become an increasingly difficult position to fill properly. As an example, Juan Uribe has earned the biggest contract at the position this off-season, recieving $15 million over two years from the Dodgers. As a result, the Cubs may end up having to give their starting third base job to Luis Valbuena, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com suggests.
Valbuena has a career .654 OPS but posted a .708 mark in 2013 along with 12 home runs in 391 trips to the plate. He got the lion’s share of the playing time at the position last season. The Cubs’ other option is Mike Olt but he struggled with Triple-A Iowa after coming over to the Cubs from the Rangers in the Matt Garza trade.
The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.
After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.
Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.