Matt Garza “is bracing for a trade” before July 31

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I speculated Monday that the sudden influx of “Matt Garza and the Cubs have talked contract extension” reports were mostly the Cubs attempting to use the media to generate some negotiating leverage for an inevitable trade.

Garza was asked about the situation and pegged the chances of agreeing to an extension at “50-50” but according to Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com: “Privately, Garza is bracing for a trade and expects to be in a new city soon, perhaps well in advance of the July 31 non-waiver deadline.”

Garza’s elbow problems had the potential to wreck his trade value, but since returning from the disabled list he’s gone 5-1 with a 3.22 ERA in 10 starts, including 4-0 with a 0.97 ERA in his last 37 innings.

Dodgers plan to tab Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of World Series

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.

Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.

Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.

Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.

The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.