Arismendy Alcantara to remain with Cubs for now

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The original plan called for Cubs prospect Arismendy Alcantara to get a cup of coffee in the big leagues for a couple of days while Darwin Barney was away on paternity leave, but his big game against the Reds this afternoon has changed things.

Making his major league debut, Alcantara went 4-for-5 with three RBI and finished a home run shy of the cycle. The 22-year-old struck out in his first major league at-bat, but he hit a sacrifice fly in his next plate appearance and followed that up with a two-run double, two infield singles, and a triple. The Cubs optioned today’s starter, Kyle Hendricks, down the minors after the game, which means that Alcantara will stick around at least through the weekend.

Much has been made about the Cubs’ glut of offensive prospects, but Alcantara has managed to fly under the radar despite putting up some big numbers in the minors. He was batting .307/.353/.537 with 46 extra-base hits (including 10 home runs), 41 RBI, and 10 stolen bases over 89 games with Triple-A Iowa prior to his call-up. It shouldn’t be long before he takes over second base for good.

Justin Verlander named ALCS MVP

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Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.

“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”

Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.

The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.