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It’ll be Clayton Kershaw vs. Joe Ross in NLDS Game 4

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I spent all morning talking about who should get the starting pitching nods for Game 4 between the Dodgers and the Nationals. Now we have an actual answer: Joe Ross of the Nats will face off against Clayton Kershaw.

With Kershaw, Dave Roberts is obviously thinking “go with my big guy today and worry about Game 5 on Thursday.” He’s also likely in receipt of a good report from Kershaw about how his back feels. The hope for the Dodgers is that Kershaw can go deep into this game, the back end of the bullpen can finish it off in one or two innings, and then Julio Urias and Rich Hill can tag-team Game 5 with whatever arm isn’t dead come Thursday. If Kershaw it knocked out quickly today, well, maybe all is lost anyway. Or maybe Urias can tag-team with him. That would make Game 5 a REAL mess, but that’s where we are.

As for the Nats, Max Scherzer is waiting for Game 5 regardless. Today it’s Ross, who is certainly well rested as he hasn’t appeared in a game since September 29. He was strong down the stretch after returning from a shoulder injury. The only question is whether he can handle the Dodgers’ left-handed bats (and the right-handed bats which struggle against lefties). If he can’t, Dusty Baker still has some lefties to go to in his pen.

Kershaw or no, the Nats are still pretty firmly in the drivers’ seat.

 

Royals, Alex Gordon close to contract agreement

Alex Gordon
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MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports that the Royals and outfielder Alex Gordon are “getting close” to an agreement on a one-year contract. Terms of the deal aren’t yet known, but the Royals could make it official within the next few days.

Gordon, who turns 36 years old next month, hit .266/.345/.396 with 13 home runs and 76 RBI over 633 plate appearances with the Royals this past season. His offense has waned, owning an adjusted OPS of 84 since 2016 (100 is average), but he still plays decent defense.

Gordon has spent all 13 years of his major league career with the Royals. With the club in a rebuilding phase, he will serve as the clubhouse leader and be a mentor to younger players on the roster.