Jose Bautista isn’t ready to call it quits just yet. The Phillies outfielder told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he still intends to suit up in 2019, and hopes to do so for a contending team. His contract is set to expire at the end of the regular season, at which point he’ll test free agency for the third time this year.
It hasn’t exactly been a banner year for the 37-year-old, however, and finding a home among the league’s top contenders may prove more difficult than expected. Bautista currently carries a cumulative .199/.340/.370 batting line, 12 home runs, and a .711 OPS through 385 plate appearances for the Braves, Mets, and Phillies, and while he’s found the most success in Philadelphia this year, he’s far removed from the 40+ homer, .250+ average slugger of days gone by.
That said, offense isn’t everything, and Rosenthal points out how valuable Bautista has been to NL East teams over the last few months, both in his defensive versatility and the mentorship he’s provided to younger players on the roster. This season alone, he’s seen games at first, second, and third base, as well as both outfield corners — showcasing the kind of flexibility that may make him an intriguing addition to another major league roster next year.
The book heading into the series was that the Dodgers’ starters needed to come up big for them due to questions in the bullpen and that the Brewers’ bullpen was going to dominate Dodgers batters, so they had best do what they can to score off of Milwaukee’s starters. So, of course, the Dodgers starters turned in performances of three and four and a third innings and eight of their nine runs the Brewers have given up have come from their relievers. I dunno, man. It’s baseball. It lends itself to anticipatory analysis worse than any other sport.
All I do know for sure is that this series has been as close as it gets so far, with each game being decided by a run and the outcome being determined late. The first two games have given me a sense that the teams are just feeling each other out and that the next three, in Los Angeles, will provide a bit more coherence to all of this. Not that there isn’t something a bit fun about incoherence when it comes to a playoff series.
Your viewing guide:
NLCS Game 3
Brewers vs. Dodgers
Ballpark: Dodger Stadium
Time: 7:39 PM Eastern
Pitchers: Jhoulys Chacin vs Walker Buehler
Jhoulys Chacin had an excellent NLDS start against the Colorado Rockies, turning in five scoreless innings. If he does something approaching that tonight the Brewers will be in pretty good shape given that Josh Hader — who pitched three shutdown innings in Game one — is available again tonight. To the extent Craig Counsell needs to dig more deeply into his reliever corps, however, things could get dicey. Corbin Burnes, Jeremy Jeffress, Corey Knebel and Joakim Soria have combined to allow seven earned runs in four innings. Brandon Woodruff, who has been dominant thus far, throwing five scoreless innings, stands a good chance of being the opener for Game 4, so Counsell will likely try to keep him off the mound tonight. That puts a decent amount of pressure on Chacin to get the game to Hader with as few innings remaining as possible.
For Los Angeles, it’s Walker Buehler who, the grand slam he gave up to Ronald Acuña in the NLDS notwithstanding, was the Dodgers’ most dominant starter down the stretch. In keeping with the somewhat flipped script so far, however, the Los Angeles bullpen has been solid, allowing just two runs over their ten and two-thirds innings in Games 1 and 2. Not that Dave Roberts wouldn’t love to see Buehler go deep tonight too.