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Daniel Murphy plays hero as Mets beat Dodgers to advance to NLCS

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The Mets and Cubs will meet in the NLCS.

Behind a gusty outing from Jacob deGrom and some heroics from Daniel Murphy, the Mets topped the Dodgers 3-2 in Game 5 of the NLDS tonight to advance to the NLCS.

DeGrom didn’t appear long for this one after giving up two runs in the first inning, but he wiggled out of a handful of jams to hold the Dodgers off the board over the next five innings. It wasn’t easy, as he pitched with runners on base in every inning except the sixth. These were high-stress innings. He ended up throwing 105 pitches while striking out seven and walking three. It wasn’t anywhere close to his dominant outing from Game 1, but it was an impressive recovery.

Murphy was the big hero for New York. Thanks to some heads-up baserunning in the fourth inning, he advanced from first to third on a walk before coming around to score on a game-tying sacrifice fly from Travis d'Arnaud. He then slugged a go-ahead solo homer off Zack Greinke in the sixth. It stood up as the difference in the ballgame. As for Greinke, he allowed three runs over 6 1/3 innings while striking out nine batters.

After deGrom was pulled from the game, Mets manager Terry Collins finally turned to Noah Syndergaard, who had warmed up multiple times earlier in the game. Regularly hitting 100 mph with his fastball, he tossed a scoreless seventh inning while striking out two batters. Collins then asked for six outs from his closer Jeurys Familia. He tossed a 1-2-3 eighth inning before coming back out for the ninth. Appropriately enough, Chase Utley led off the bottom of the ninth. Familia got him to fly out to right field for the first out before striking out A.J. Ellis swinging. He then struck out Howie Kendrick swinging to end it.

The Mets are back in the NLCS for the first time since 2006. Game 1 of the NLCS vs. the Cubs will take place Saturday night at 8:07 p.m. ET in New York.

Reds are the frontrunner for Nicholas Castellanos

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Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Reds “have emerged as the frontrunner” to sign free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. Morosi says the Reds and Castellanos “have made progress over the past several days.”

The Reds were going to have a lot of outfielders already when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps. And, of course, the Reds could trade from their outfield surplus if, indeed, they end up with an outfield surplus.

Without question, however, Castellanos would be the big dog, at least offensively, in that setup. He had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power. If he were to sign to play half his season in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.