Playoff Reset: Dodgers vs. Cubs NLCS Game 1

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The Game: Los Angeles Dodgers @ Chicago Cubs, NLCS Game 1
The Time: 8:00 PM EDT
The Place: Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois
The Channel: FS1
The Starters: Kenta Maeda (Dodgers) vs. Jon Lester (Cubs)

The Upshot:

With Clayton Kershaw a likely lock for Game 2, Kenta Maeda (16-11, 3.48 ERA) will take the hill as the Dodgers kick off the NLCS on Saturday. There’s a little more pressure on Maeda this time around after he allowed four runs in three innings during his first postseason start earlier this week. Granted, it was his first career start against the Nationals, but the same can be said here: through 32 starts in the 2016 season, Maeda didn’t match up with the Cubs once.

Jon Lester (19-5, 2.44 ERA) will welcome the Dodgers to Wrigley Field tonight, with Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta to follow during Games 2 and 3, respectively. There’s no way around the Cubs’ stacked rotation… or their stacked bullpen, or their stacked lineup, for that matter. Lester’s first foray into the 2016 postseason was met with a little more success than Maeda’s; against Johnny Cueto and the Giants, he worked eight shutout innings during the Cubs’ 1-0 win to open the NLDS. He also has some experience against the Dodgers this year, holding them to one run and striking out 16 over 15 innings in the regular season.

 

Despite the Dodgers’ airtight bullpen (a league-leading 3.35 ERA in 590 2/3 regular season innings) and heavy hitters like Corey Seager and Justin Turner, the Cubs are still the clear favorites here — as they have been all season. The Dodgers may have won each of their NLDS match-ups on a razor-thin one-run lead, but it’ll take more than late-inning heroics and dominant pitching to best the best of the best. Not only are the Cubs planning on sending out three of their aces in the first three games of the NLCS, but they’ll utilize Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and a steaming hot Javier Baez (.375/.412/.563 in 17 postseason plate appearances) to anchor their offensive drive as well.

 

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.