Gerrit Cole
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Astros, Nationals lineups for World Series Game 5

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The Astros pulled even with the Nationals during Game 4 of the World Series on Saturday, utilizing rookie right-hander José Urquidy for five scoreless innings and cashing in a five-RBI performance from Alex Bregman to defeat Washington, 8-1. On Sunday night, they’ll head into Nationals Park one last time, hoping to gain an edge over their rivals before the series heads back to Houston for Game 6 and a potential Game 7.

Given the Astros’ heavy bullpen use over the last two games, they’ll look to ace right-hander Gerrit Cole to go the distance against a loaded (albeit struggling) Nationals lineup. Although Cole stumbled in Game 1 of the series — tossing seven innings of five-run, one-walk, six-strikeout ball in a 5-4 loss — he still carries an impressive 1.82 ERA, 2.7 BB/9, and 11.5 SO/9 across 29 2/3 innings of postseason play this fall.

1. George Springer (R) CF
2. José Altuve (R) 2B
3. Michael Brantley (L) RF
4. Alex Bregman (R) 3B
5. Yuli Gurriel (R) 1B
6. Yordan Álvarez (L) LF
7. Carlos Correa (R) SS
8. Martín Maldonado (R) C
9. Gerrit Cole (R) RHP

Against Cole — and a lineup that delivered 12 runs in the last two game alone — the Nationals will send out right-hander Joe Ross. Max Scherzer was initially slated for the start, mirroring the Cole-Scherzer match-up in Game 1, but was ruled out after experiencing some troubling back and neck pain. His status for the remainder of the series is now up in the air; he received an injection prior to Sunday’s game, but it’s questionable whether he’ll even be ready to handle a potential Game 7 start on Wednesday.

Ross has yet to make a formal postseason start for the Nationals, though his regular season track record — a 5.48 ERA, 4.6 BB/9, and 8.0 SO/9 through 64 innings — is hardly comforting as the Nationals head into another high-stakes situation. In his lone playoff appearance, he tossed two scoreless innings for the club during their Game 3 loss to the Astros on Friday. Should his Game 5 start start to go south, Dave Martinez may call on Game 3 starter Aníbal Sánchez, who could conceivably pitch out of the bullpen on two days’ rest.

1. Trea Turner (R) SS
2. Adam Eaton (L) RF
3. Anthony Rendon (R) 3B
4. Juan Soto (L) LF
5. Howie Kenrick (R) 2B
6. Ryan Zimmerman (R) 1B
7. Victor Robles (R) CF
8. Yan Gomes (R) C
9. Joe Ross (R) RHP

Game 5 will kick off at 8:07 PM EDT.

Reds sign Nicholas Castellanos to a four-year deal

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The Cincinnati Reds have signed outfielder Nicholas Castellanos to a multi-year deal. That’s the report from C. Trent Rosecrans and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Jon Morosi of MLB.com was the first to report the Reds as frontrunners. The deal is pending a physical. UPDATE: The deal is four years. Financial terms have yet to be reported.

With Castellanos in the fold the Reds are going to have a lot of outfielders when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton already on the roster. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps taking over short from Freddy Galvis, who could be dealt. Alternatively, the Reds could trade from their newfound outfield surplus.

Castellanos, however, will have left field to himself. While he’s shaky at best with the glove, he had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power.

Now that he’ll be playing in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.