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Kyle Hendricks leads Cubs with a 3-0 shutout over the Nationals for a 1-0 lead in NLDS

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In a postseason that’s been woefully short on strong starts and stellar pitching, Kyle Hendricks delivered one of his best starts of the year. The Cubs’ right-hander went seven solid innings in Friday’s 3-0 win over the Nationals, securing a 1-0 advantage in the NLDS with seven innings of two-hit, six-strikeout ball.

Despite working into a couple jams in the first two innings, Hendricks recovered with a pair of inning-ending outs and kept the Nationals’ baserunners from advancing past second base. Things didn’t go quite as smoothly for the Nats’ Stephen Strasburg, who allowed two runs — both RBI singles from Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo — after hurling 5 2/3 innings of no-hit ball to start the game.

Following Rizzo’s RBI hit in the sixth, Strasburg handed the ball to Ryan Madson, who allowed the Cubs to tack on an extra insurance run with Rizzo’s RBI double in the eighth. The Nationals, meanwhile, couldn’t get a break at the plate. Far from the 4.83 run support average they used to back Strasburg with in the regular season, they failed to reach base even once against the Cubs’ bullpen.

Carl Edwards Jr. needed just 11 pitches to cruise through a scoreless eighth, retiring Trea Turner on a four-pitch strikeout, inducing a first-pitch pop-out from Bryce Harper and flummoxing Anthony Rendon with six straight fastballs for an inning-ending strikeout. Wade Davis was just as efficient in the ninth, utilizing another 11 pitches to retire Daniel Murphy, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth and seal the Cubs’ shutout.

The Cubs will head off Game 2 of the series on Saturday at 5:30 PM ET. Lefties Jon Lester (13-8, 4.33 ERA) and Gio Gonzalez (15-9, 2.96 ERA) will square off for another contest at Nationals Park before the series moves to Wrigley Field on Monday.

Teams still don’t know if three-batter minimum rule will be in effect for 2020

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According to Athletics GM David Forst, Major League Baseball has still not informed teams whether or not the proposed three-batter-minimum rule will be in effect for the 2020 season, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The league and the players’ union came to an agreement back in March regarding a handful of rule changes with the three-batter-minimum rule among them. From the way it was discussed, it seemed like it was set in stone. If Forst is unsure, then the league clearly hasn’t done a good job of communicating that.

Slusser notes that the A’s are operating as if the rule will be in effect, as the club non-tendered lefty Ryan Buchter earlier this week. Buchter has a career 2.86 ERA with 235 strikeouts in 214 innings, but the bulk of that success has come against left-handed hitters. This past season 115 of the 198 total plate appearances (58 percent) against Buchter were taken by fellow lefties. He held lefties to a .728 OPS compared to .904 against righties. As a result, despite Buchter’s overall terrific numbers, the A’s felt the roster spot could be more effectively used with a different player given the proposed rule.

Some teams may not make the same assumption as the A’s. What if a team keeps its lefty specialist(s) on the roster or goes out and acquires such a player, not knowing whether or not the rule is in effect for the upcoming season?

Since it has been brought up publicly, the issue will likely be resolved quickly and we should all have clarity on the rules for the 2020 season.