Scott Van Slyke is thriving next to the Dodgers’ big-name, high-priced outfielders

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There’s been lots of talk about the Dodgers having four big-name outfielders for three starting spots, but while everyone debates how manager Don Mattingly should divvy up the playing time among Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, and Andre Ethier a different outfielder has been the most productive in the bunch.

In what is admittedly limited playing time of 90 plate appearances facing primarily left-handed pitching, Scott Van Slyke has hit .278 with six homers, five doubles, and a 1.060 OPS. By comparison, Puig has a 1.014 OPS and the none of the other three big-name outfielders are above a .750 OPS.

Van Slyke’s strong production dates back further than this season, too. Last year in 152 plate appearances for the Dodgers he posted an .807 OPS that ranked third on the team behind Hanley Ramirez and Puig, and his numbers in the minors include a .330 batting average with 31 homers, 55 doubles, and a 1.009 OPS in 171 games at Triple-A.

Van Slyke can hit and at age 27 he deserves an extended look to see exactly how good he could be in a full-time role, but he picked just about the worst situation possible in which to potentially get that extended look. So he’ll have to settle for posting big numbers in small playing time for now.

Dan Patrick Show: Don Mattingly talks Dodgers’ chemistry issues

Astros advance to the World Series with 4-0 finale against Yankees

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The Astros punched their ticket to the World Series on Saturday, shutting out the Yankees 4-0 to take their first Game 7 victory at home. Charlie Morton was nearly untouchable on the mound, holding the Yankees to two hits, a walk and five strikeouts en route to his first career postseason win.

Morton and Sabathia carried their duel through three solid innings. Morton struck out three batters and allowed just one baserunner. Sabathia worked in and out of jams in the second and third innings, supplying and stranding two runners in scoring position.

Evan Gattis was the first to strike. In the fourth inning, he punched a 2-2 slider from Sabathia into the left field wall, where it registered a projected 405 feet and broke a homer-less streak of 115 at-bats by designated hitters in the 2017 postseason. The home run signaled the beginning of the end for the Yankees’ starter. He induced a groundout from Marwin Gonzalez, then walked Brian McCann on six pitches and allowed Josh Reddick his first base hit of the playoffs. That was enough for Joe Girardi, who pulled Sabathia for righty Tommy Kahnle and an inning-ending double play to close out the fourth.

Even with Sabathia gone, there was still some hope that the middle of the order could bail the Yankees out. Greg Bird led off the fifth with a first pitch double and Aaron Hicks took a four-pitch walk. A wild pitch from Morton allowed Bird to reach third base, but Alex Bregman and Brian McCann weren’t about to let the Yankees spoil their starter’s shutout. Todd Frazier bounced a ball toward third base, where Bregman grabbed and fired it to home plate, catching Bird just as McCann put his glove down.

The bottom of the inning wasn’t any easier for Sabathia’s successors. Jose Altuve went oppo-taco on a 1-1 changeup from Kahnle, postmarking it 364 feet into the right field stands. Kahnle labored through the next four at-bats, handing out a pair of singles to Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel before sending Gattis down swinging. The next at-bat was even more troublesome. McCann roped a two-out, two-RBI double to the warning track in right field, clearing the bases and boosting the Astros’ to a cushy 4-0 lead.

The excitement fizzled a little over the next few innings. Brett Gardner muscled a leadoff single off of Lance McCullers, but was later caught at second on a force play to end the sixth. McCullers didn’t let go of the ball again. He was lights-out through the end of the game, scattering a walk and six strikeouts over four innings and clinching the pennant with a 1-2-3 performance in the ninth.

Whatever confidence the Astros had coming off of their three-game sweep in the Division Series was tested and tested again in their pennant run. They battled through three tough losses in Games 3 through 5, staved off elimination with a gem from Justin Verlander in Game 6, and finally emerged victorious tonight. Three days from now, when they enter Dodger Stadium for Game 1 of the World Series, they’ll have the chance to do it all again.