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Nathan Grimm

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Postseason Dose: Dodgers Go On

Sunday, October 21, 2018


Cody Bellinger flexed as he rounded the bases.

 

Starter Walker Buehler and the Dodgers bullpen -- with help from one of their starters -- flexed from there.

 

Bellinger hit a go-ahead, two-run home run in the second inning, and Buehler and the Dodgers relievers held the Brewers to one run in a 5-1 victory in Saturday's NLCS Game 7. The win books a return trip to the World Series for the Dodgers, who will face the Red Sox in Boston starting Tuesday.

 

Bellinger was named NLCS MVP for his performance, which was fairly pedestrian before he crushed a Jhoulys Chacin offering over the right field wall in the second inning. The homer put the Dodgers on top after Christian Yelich had hit a solo shot in the bottom of the first inning to give the Brewers an early lead.

 

After the solo shot, Buehler, the 24-year-old rookie, shut down the Brewers, scattering six hits while striking out seven over 4 2/3 innings of work. Julio Urias, Ryan Madson -- who was awarded the win for his 1 2/3 scoreless innings of work -- Kenley Jansen and, to finish it off, ace Clayton Kershaw kept the Brewers to just one hit over the final 4 1/3 innings. The quartet struck out seven without issuing a walk.

 

It was more of the same for a bullpen that not long ago was considered an Achilles heel for the Dodgers. The revamped group -- including Madson and Urias, the former having been acquired at the waiver trade deadline and the latter having not made his 2018 debut until September 15 due to major shoulder surgery in 2017 -- had a 1.45 ERA in the NLCS, with opponents hitting just .180 off the relievers.

 

Though they didn't end up needing it, Yasiel Puig provided the staff with some breathing room when he mashed a Jeremy Jeffress delivery over the left-center field wall for a three-run blast. Puig finished the night 3-for-4 with a single and a double as well.

 

For the Brewers, Yelich's homer got the club on the board but starter Jhoulys Chacin, who won 15 games in the regular season and who was 2-0 in two postseason starts, surrendered the two-run shot to Bellinger and was removed after the second inning. Josh Hader was his usually dominant self, firing three scoreless innings to keep the Brewers in the contest, but Jeffress' postseason struggles were capped with another poor performance, leaving him with a 6.75 ERA and 2.50 WHIP in eight October innings.

 

And after Jansen got four outs to get the game to the ninth, it was Kershaw on the mound to finish it off. After a Travis Shaw ground out, he struck out Jesus Aguilar and Mike Moustakas to punch the Dodgers' ticket to a second consecutive World Series appearance.

 

Who will be on the mound when the Series opens Tuesday? Kershaw, of course.

 

Mesas On Table For Marlins?

 

Free agency hasn't begun yet, but the Marlins are poised to land two of the biggest names on the international market.

 

The club, which has been stockpiling international bonus pool money of late, will announce the signing of Cuban brothers Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Mesa Jr. at a press conference Monday, according to multiple sources. The team has called a press conference for Monday morning but has not officially stated the nature of the conference.

 

Both players are regarded highly within the industry, but Victor Victor Mesa is the real catch for Miami. The 22-year-old outfielder is “considered an outstanding defender with a strong arm. He's also a plus runner and scouts like his upside and pedigree. There's the belief that Mesa would be selected in the first round if he was eligible for the draft, and he's the type of hitter who could be placed at the top of the order,” according to MLB.com.

 

Mesa Jr. is a 17-year-old who is also an outfielder. He was described by MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez as "a switch-hitting outfielder with hit potential and a decent arm."

 

Per Sanchez, the disparity in the desirability of the two players will manifest itself in the contracts they sign with the Marlins. Victor Victor will receive upwards of $5 million, Sanchez said, while Mesa Jr. will receive around $1 million.

 

The Marlins paid a steep price to put themselves in position to land the duo. They made a series of trades in recent weeks and months with the singular purpose of acquiring more bonus money, including dealing one-time closer Kyle Barraclough to the Nationals earlier this month. The Orioles also made a big push to hoard bonus pool money, also with the idea of signing Victor Victor.

 

With the Mesas off the table, the O's will have to turn their attention elsewhere on the international market.

 

Altuve Undergoes Knee Surgery

 

It became known after the Astros' ALCS Game 5 loss to the Red Sox that Jose Altuve was playing hurt. The extent of that injury was revealed Saturday.

 

Altuve underwent knee surgery Friday to repair a patella (kneecap) avulsion fracture in his right knee, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com said. According to the Mayo Clinic web site, an avulsion fracture occurs when a small chunk of bone attached to a tendon or ligament gets pulled away from the main part of the bone.

 

Altuve is "expected to make a full recovery and be ready to play for spring training," the club said in a statement.

 

The second baseman made his first-ever trip to the disabled list in July, missing 21 games with "right knee discomfort." After the ALCS loss, Astros manager A.J. Hinch told reporters Altuve played the series "on one leg."

 

"Tremendous heart. It's all about heart with him. He is such a great example of what's right," Hinch said. "I've said that over and over again ... I wish you guys knew what he had to go through to play every day and get himself prepared and then contribute and do well."

 

Quick Hits: Mookie Betts has been taking ground balls at second base and could man that position in a National League ballpark in the World Series. Red Sox manager Alex Cora said regular designated hitter J.D. Martinez will start every game of the series. He would have to man the outfield if he were to start in either Milwaukee or Los Angeles. Putting Betts at second base would keep Jackie Bradley in the lineup in center field. Betts played part of one game at second base this season but other than that hasn't played anywhere on the infield since 2014 ... Chris Sale said Saturday that irritation from a belly-button ring caused him to miss his start in Game 5 of the ALCS. So there's that. In any case, he'll be ready to roll for Game 1 of the World Series, which starts Tuesday ... Phil Miller of the StarTribune reports the Twins have whittled down their list of potential managers to between three and five candidates. They are finished with their first round of interviews and are calling in the surviving candidates for a second round of talks. Miller speculates that Derek Shelton, who served as the Twins' bench coach this year, could be the favorite to land the job. Other known candidates are Twins' hitting coach James Rowson, Cubs' bench coach Brandon Hyde, Rocco Baldelli of the Rays, Giants' bench coach Hensley Meulens and Astros' bench coach Joe Espada. Jon Heyman of Fancred says Meulens and Espada are out of the running. LaVelle Neal of the StarTribune says former catcher David Ross is also in the mix.



Nathan Grimm is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. He can also be found on Twitter (@Nate_Grimm).
Email :Nathan Grimm



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