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.

Marlins sign Brandon Kintzler to one-year, $3.25 million deal

Brandon Kintzler
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Jon Morosi reported on Saturday that the Marlins signed veteran reliever Brandon Kintzler to a one-year contract worth $3.25 million. The deal includes a club option for 2020 worth $4 million with a $250,000 buyout, according to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers.

Kintzler, 35, put up a terrific 2.68 ERA with 48 strikeouts and 13 walks over 57 innings for the Cubs last season. He’s been mostly good in recent years, but relievers in their mid-30’s have had a tough time finding multi-year deals.

The Marlins have a handful of players who could rack up saves this coming season, namely Drew Steckenrider and José Ureña along with Kintzler. The club will likely use spring training to determine an official closer, if they name one at all. The Marlins have also expressed interest in free agent Pedro Strop.