Cardinals beat Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw yet again, advance to fourth straight NLCS

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The Cardinals are heading to the NLCS for the fourth consecutive season, and for the ninth time since 2000.

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw had allowed just one hit through six scoreless innings in Game 4 of the NLDS on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, but Matt Holliday and Jhonny Peralta kicked off the bottom of the seventh with singles and then Matt “Big Mayo” Adams slugged an improbable go-ahead three-run shot into the St. Louis bullpen in right field on a Kershaw curveball that hung just a little too high.

It was the first time a left-handed hitter had EVER homered off a Kershaw curveball. Oh, and Adams has a .197 career average against left-handed pitchers.

Pat Neshek tossed a clean eighth inning and then Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal pitched in but out of danger in the top of the ninth inning to ice the 3-2 Game 4 victory, delivering St. Louis the best-of-five National League Division Series. A series in which the Cardinals got to Kershaw for a whopping 11 runs — all earned — in 12 2/3 innings. A series in which Kenley Jansen — the Dodgers’ best reliever — faced only three batters. A series in which Yasiel Puig — the Dodgers’ best position player — was used merely as a pinch-runner in the deciding game.

St. Louis will meet either the San Francisco Giants or Washington Nationals in the next round.

Marcus Stroman: José Bautista could ‘easily’ pitch in MLB bullpen

José Bautista and Marcus Stroman
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José Bautista hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018 but the 39-year-old isn’t done playing just yet. Last month, we learned via a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Bautista is hoping to come back as a two-way player. He spent the winter working out as a pitcher.

Bautista had also been working with former Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman. Back in January, Stroman tweeted, “My bro @JoeyBats19 is nasty on the mound. We been working working. All jokes aside, this man can pitch in a big league bullpen. I’ll put my word on it!”

In March, Passan added some details about Bautista, writing, “I’ve seen video of Jose Bautista throwing a bullpen session. Couldn’t tell the velocity, but one source said he can run his fastball up to 94. His slider had legitimate tilt — threw a short one and a bigger bender. @STR0 said in January he could pitch in a big league bullpen.” Stroman retweeted it, adding, “Facts!”

Stroman reiterated his feelings on Tuesday. He tweeted, “Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19could EASILY pitch in a big league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!” Stroman attached a video of Bautista throwing a slider, in which one can hear Stroman calling the pitch “nasty.”

Stroman attached another video of Bautista throwing a glove-side sinker:

Replying to a fan, Stroman said Bautista’s body “is in better shape than 90-95% of the league.”

I am not a scout and won’t pretend to be one after watching two low-resolution videos. And Stroman’s hype is likely partially one friend attempting to uplift another. That being said, I’ve seen much worse from position players attempting to pitch. It’s a long shot, especially given his age, that Bautista will ever pitch in the majors, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity to pitch in front of major league scouts.