Playoff Reset: All eight playoff teams are in action today

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This is a pretty good day to be a shut-in, which is fantastic work if you can get it. All four playoff series are on tap, with the Tigers and Orioles continuing in Baltimore, the Royals and Angels continuing in Anaheim and the Cardinals, Dodgers, Giants and Nationals finally getting their NLDS matchups underway.

The Game: Detroit Tigers vs. Baltimore Orioles, American League Division Series Game 2
The Time: 12:07 PM Eastern
The Place: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Justin Verlander vs. Wei-Yin Chen
The Upshot: A few eyebrows were raised when Brad Ausmus named Justin Verlander the Game 2 starter over David Price. Verlander may have the better playoff pedigree, but Price was the better pitcher this year. Now, after last night’s bullpen debacle, the Tigers need Verlander to do something he used to do all the time but had trouble with this year: work economically, go deep into the game and shut the opposition down. If he doesn’t, the Tigers’ backs will be up against the wall. Heck, they may be up against the wall already.

The Game: San Francisco Giants vs. Washington Nationals, National League Division Series Game 1
The Time: 3:07 PM Eastern
The Place: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
The Channel: Fox Sports 1
The Starters: Jake Peavy vs. Stephen Strasburg
The Upshot: A whole different and way tougher test for the Giants, as they go from facing a Wild Card team with their ace on the mound to facing the best team in the National League. The Nats are probably the deepest team in the playoffs. There really isn’t a weakness in the lineup, even if they don’t have an MVP candidate, and their rotation is fantastic. On paper, the Nationals are the clearly superior team. Playoff-wise, though, they are greenhorns compared to the seasoned Giants, winners of two of the past four World Series. Tonight’s pitching matchup should be interesting: Peavy and Strasburg are friends, both of whom make their home in San Diego and work out together in the offseason.

The Game: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, National League Division Series Game 1
The Time: 6:37 PM Eastern
The Place: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California
The Channel: Fox Sports 1
The Starters: Adam Wainwright vs. Clayton Kershaw
The Upshot: The Cardinals beat the Dodgers in the NLCS last year, but very different circumstances reign this time around. For one thing, the Dodgers are more healthy. Last year they didn’t have Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez was injured in the first game of the series. The Cardinals’ robust offense of 2013 is gone too, with Carlos Beltran gone and most of St. Louis’ key performers experiencing declines this year. That said, there is a lot of play in the matchups here, with the Dodgers having an edge in 1-2 starters while the Cardinals’ 3-4 starters are clearly superior. The Dodgers’ offense was far better this year and was peaking in September. The Cardinals’ bullpen is, top-to-bottom, better than L.A.’s even if L.A. has the better closer. And of course: tonight we get Adam Wainwright vs. Clayton Kershaw, a matchup of perhaps the two best pitchers in baseball.

The Game: Kansas City Royals vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, American League Division Series, Game 2
The Time: 9:37 PM Eastern
The Place: Angels Stadium, Anaheim, California
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Yordano Ventura vs. Matt Shoemaker
The Upshot: The Royals are living a charmed playoff existence so far, winning their first two games in extra innings. You can’t expect that sort of magic to continue, but maybe you don’t need magic when your opponents’ top hitters — Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Howie Kendrick and Josh Hamilton — do stuff like go for a combined 0 for 18. The Angels need their big guns to produce.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.