Playoff Reset: Giants vs. Cubs NLDS Game 2

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The Game: San Francisco Giants @ Chicago Cubs, NLDS Game 2
The Time: 8:00 PM EDT
The Place: Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois
The Channel: MLB Network
The Starters: Jeff Samardzija (Giants) vs. Kyle Hendricks (Cubs)

The Upshot:

The Cubs have one game left at Wrigley Field before the series moves to San Francisco, so naturally they’re putting Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 2.13 ERA) on the mound this evening. Hendricks owned a 9-2 record at home in 2016, sweetened by a 1.32 ERA and 6.36 K/BB rate over 95 1/3 innings. While he hasn’t found much success in prior playoff runs, pitching the Cubs through the NLDS and NLCS with a 5.19 ERA in 2015, his track record in 2016 should give him the edge against the Giants.

Bruce Bochy, meanwhile, will roll with Jeff Samardzija (12-11, 3.81 ERA) as the Giants look to even the series on Saturday. Unlike Hendricks, Samardzija isn’t building a case for the Cy Young Award this year, but his resurgence during the second half proved instrumental to the Giants’ postseason bid. He’s no stranger to Wrigley Field, either, after spending the better part of seven seasons with the Cubs to start his major league career.

Heading into Game 2, the bigger question mark is that of the teams’ offensive drives. The Giants have yet to score a run in the Division Series after blanking the Mets 3-0 in the wild card game, while the Cubs skated by on a solo home run from Javier Baez to cap their first NLDS win on Friday. Although today’s match-up profiles as less of a pitcher’s duel than the Cueto-Lester standoff of Game 1, a win would put the Cubs in position to go for the sweep on Monday. Too bad they’ll need to dismantle Madison Bumgarner‘s perfect postseason record to do so.

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

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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.