Andre Ethier spent the past few days trying to convince the Dodgers and their training staff that he was capable enough of playing through an ankle injury to be an asset in the NLDS and apparently it worked.
Ethier has made the opening-round playoff roster, but will likely be limited to pinch-hitting duties after sitting out the past three weeks save for a single one-inning appearance on September 22.
If he’s healthy enough to actually run the bases Ethier is certainly a nice late-inning option off the bench, as even in a down season he hit .272 with 12 homers and a .783 OPS in 142 games. However, with Ethier limited and Matt Kemp out for the playoffs the Dodgers are forced to improvise in center field and are leaning toward going with Skip Schumaker as their primary starter.
Along with Ethier the Dodgers also chose Scott Van Slyke, Chris Capuano, and Dee Gordon for the NLDS roster, leaving off Jerry Hairston, Edinson Volquez, Brandon League, and Carlos Marmol.
The Yankees defeated the Astros 4-1 during Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night, staving off a potential postseason elimination and forcing the series to at least six games.
In just the third playoff appearance of his career, Yankees southpaw James Paxton turned in another impressive performance, limiting the Astros to four hits and four walks over six innings of one-run ball. According to MLB Stats, his nine strikeouts made him the second Yankees lefty to record multiple starts of 8+ strikeouts in the same postseason campaign, two decades after David Wells did so for the 1998 championship-winning club.
Paxton’s strong outing was backed by a handful of runs from DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, both of whom went deep against Astros ace Justin Verlander in the bottom of the first inning. LeMahieu’s leadoff solo shot marked his first postseason home run since Game 1 of the ALDS, while Hicks’ three-run 347-footer was his first home run of any variety since July 24 (and his first in the playoffs since the 2017 ALDS).
Neither team managed a single run after the first inning, leaving the two pitching staffs to duke it out for eight quick innings. Verlander outlasted Paxton — taking the game through the seventh with five hits, four runs, and nine strikeouts — but even with a flawless contribution from Brad Peacock in the eighth, there was little the hurlers could do to help the Astros solve Paxton and an airtight Yankees bullpen.
With the win, the Yankees will try to push the series to a full seven games in order to snatch the AL pennant from the Astros. They’ll have to do in Houston, however, as the Astros will regain home field advantage when Game 6 kicks off on Saturday at 8:08 PM EDT. Neither starter has been announced yet; per Houston skipper A.J. Hinch, it will likely be a bullpen day.