Playoff Reset: Nationals vs. Dodgers NLDS Game 3

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The Game: Washington Nationals @ Los Angeles Dodgers, NLDS Game 3
The Time: 4:00 PM EDT
The Place: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
The Channel: MLB Network
The StartersGio Gonzalez (Nationals) vs. Kenta Maeda (Dodgers)

The Upshot:

The series is tied at one, but, going into this one it feels like the Dodgers are in a hole. Why? Because the Nats are throwing a lefty in Gio Gonzalez (11-11, 4.57 ERA) and the Dodgers have been baseball’s worst-hitting team when facing lefties this year. So far in the series they have had 14 at bats against Washington lefties —Sammy Solis, Marc Rzepcynski and Oliver Perez — and they’re 1-for-14. If Los Angeles wants to take a 2-1 lead in this series, they need to break form in a hurry. Gonzalez is 3-1 with a 1.69 ERA in five career starts against the Dodgers, including a win back in July in which he allowed one run over six innings. He hasn’t been hurt by anyone in this lineup over his career.

The Dodgers will also have to figure out how to contain Daniel Murphy, who is in a different uniform this year but who is beating the tar out of Dodgers pitchers just like he did in the 2015 NLDS for the Mets. He’s 4-for-6 so far against L.A in this NLDS and is 11-for-27 with three home runs and five RBI in seven postseason games against the Dodgers overall.

The Dodgers counter with Kenta Maeda (16-11, 3.48 ERA) who, while not as spectacular when he is on as Clayton Kershaw or Rich Hill are, was the Dodgers most steady and reliable starter all year, leading the club in wins, innings and strikeouts. Given the way Kershaw labored in Game 1 and the loss yesterday, Dave Roberts will settle for some steady right now. Maeda did not face the Nationals in his rookie year.

The starters will be well-rested, as they flew to Los Angeles ahead of the clubs. Everyone else may be dragging a good deal given the coast-to-coast flight last night and 1PM (local) start time. They’re ballplayers, though, and they’ve done it before. For the true stories of exhaustion, follow the media who had to make a 5am commercial flight from D.C. this morning to cover the game in Los Angeles today. Our thoughts and prayers are with them in this difficult time.

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.