Rays hope to stay alive with new-look lineup

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The Rays lost to a pair of left-handed starters over the first two games of the series — Cliff Lee in Game 1 and C.J. Wilson in Game 2 — so they have a bit of a different look against right-hander Colby Lewis for Game 3 this afternoon (via Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times).

John Jaso, C
Ben Zobrist, 2B
Carl Crawford, LF
Evan Longoria, 3B
Matt Joyce, RF
Dan Johnson, DH
Carlos Pena, 1B
B.J. Upton, CF
Jason Bartlett, SS

Jaso, Johnson and Joyce will start for the first time in the series. Pena was benched in Game 2 after going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and a walk in Game 1. Including Wednesday’s 0-fer, Pena is batting just .112 with 35 strikeouts in his last 89 at-bats.

With the Rays on the brink of elimination, I’m a little surprised to see Bartlett in there over Reid Brignac. Keep in mind, Lewis held right-handed batters to a meager .216 batting average and 627 OPS during the regular season. Bartlett batted just .244 with a 647 OPS against righties this season while Brignac batted .261 with all eight of his home runs and a 706 OPS. Minor quibble, but something to look out for.  

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Free-agent ace Jacob deGrom and the Texas Rangers agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner leaves the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened by injuries.

After making his first start last season in early August, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then opted out of his contract to become a free agent.

Texas announced the signing Friday night after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

“We are thrilled that Jacob deGrom has decided to become a Texas Ranger,” executive vice president and general manager Chris Young said in a statement. “Over a number of seasons, Jacob has been a standout major league pitcher, and he gives us a dominant performer at the top of our rotation. One of our primary goals this offseason is to strengthen our starting pitching, and we are adding one of the best.”

Texas went 68-94 last season and then hired Bruce Bochy as its new manager. The Rangers’ six straight losing seasons are their worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

The Rangers were big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).