The Reds decided to release outfielder Matt Kemp during a flurry of roster moves on Saturday. Kemp was working his way through a stint on the injured list after fracturing his left rib on an attempted outfield catch several weeks ago.
Kemp, 34, came over to Cincinnati as part of a trade for the Dodgers’ Homer Bailey, Jeter Downs, and Josiah Gray last December. He had a terrific year with Los Angeles in 2018, slashing .290/.338/.481 with 21 home runs and 1.6 fWAR through 506 plate appearances, but struggled to replicate those results during his first month with the Reds. Over 20 major-league games in 2019, he batted .200/.210/.283 with three extra bases and five RBI before landing on the injured list.
Still, given his relatively recent productivity at the plate, it’s something of a surprise to see him dropped from the team so soon into the season. Once he makes a full recovery — something the Reds never gave a firm timetable for — he’s almost certain to find a backup opportunity or minors deal somewhere in the league.
The Yankees defeated the Astros 4-1 during Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night, staving off a potential postseason elimination and forcing the series to at least six games.
In just the third playoff appearance of his career, Yankees southpaw James Paxton turned in another impressive performance, limiting the Astros to four hits and four walks over six innings of one-run ball. According to MLB Stats, his nine strikeouts made him the second Yankees lefty to record multiple starts of 8+ strikeouts in the same postseason campaign, two decades after David Wells did so for the 1998 championship-winning club.
Paxton’s strong outing was backed by a handful of runs from DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, both of whom went deep against Astros ace Justin Verlander in the bottom of the first inning. LeMahieu’s leadoff solo shot marked his first postseason home run since Game 1 of the ALDS, while Hicks’ three-run 347-footer was his first home run of any variety since July 24 (and his first in the playoffs since the 2017 ALDS).
Neither team managed a single run after the first inning, leaving the two pitching staffs to duke it out for eight quick innings. Verlander outlasted Paxton — taking the game through the seventh with five hits, four runs, and nine strikeouts — but even with a flawless contribution from Brad Peacock in the eighth, there was little the hurlers could do to help the Astros solve Paxton and an airtight Yankees bullpen.
With the win, the Yankees will try to push the series to a full seven games in order to snatch the AL pennant from the Astros. They’ll have to do in Houston, however, as the Astros will regain home field advantage when Game 6 kicks off on Saturday at 8:08 PM EDT. Neither starter has been announced yet; per Houston skipper A.J. Hinch, it will likely be a bullpen day.