Yuli Gurriel Suspended 5 2018 Games for Racist Gesture; Avoids World Series Ban

Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel has reportedly been suspended for the first five games of next season after making a racist gesture aimed at Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish in Game 3 of the World Series.

USA Today's Bob Nightengale first reported Gurriel's suspension.

The Astros issued a statement on Gurriel's punishment:

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred cited four reasons for not wanting to suspend Gurriel during the World Series, including not wanting to punish the other players on the Astros roster by having a starter sit out, per Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. Manfred did say there was "no place in our game" for what Gurriel did.

Before MLB decided on Gurriel's punishment, ESPN's Buster Olney noted it would be difficult to suspend him for any games in the World Series due to the way the appeals process is set up.

Gurriel homered off Darvish in the second inning of Houston's 5-3 win on Friday. After returning to the dugout, television cameras showed Gurriel pulling down on the corners of his eyes. He apologized for the incident following the game.

"I did not mean it to be offensive at any point," Gurriel said, per ESPN's Scott Lauber. "Quite the opposite. I have always had a lot of respect [for Japanese people]. ... I've never had anything against Darvish. For me, he's always been one of the best pitchers. I never had any luck against him. If I offended him, I apologize. It was not my intention."

Per Gabe Lacques and Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today, Gurriel also admitted using the Spanish term "Chinito," which translates to "little Chinese guy," in the dugout.

Darvish told reporters after the game he felt Gurriel's gesture was "disrespectful" and later issued a statement on Twitter about the situation:

A Cuba native, Gurriel played 15 seasons in the Cuban National Series and Japan Central League from 2001-16. He signed a five-year deal with the Astros in July 2016 and appeared in 36 games last season.

In his first full MLB season in 2017, the 33-year-old hit .299/.332/.486 with 18 home runs in 139 games.

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Yuli Gurriel Suspended 5 2018 Games for Racist Gesture; Avoids World Series Ban

Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel has reportedly been suspended for the first five games of next season after making a racist gesture aimed at Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish in Game 3 of the World Series.

USA Today's Bob Nightengale first reported Gurriel's suspension.

The Astros issued a statement on Gurriel's punishment:

Per MLB Network's Jon Morosi, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred cited four reasons for not wanting to suspend Gurriel during the World Series, including not wanting to punish the other players on the Astros roster by having a starter sit out.

Per Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times, Manfred did say there was "no place in our game" for what Gurriel did.

Before MLB decided on Gurriel's punishment, ESPN's Buster Olney noted it would be difficult to suspend him for any games in the World Series due to the way the appeals process is set up.

Gurriel homered off Darvish in the second inning of Houston's 5-3 win on Friday. After returning to the dugout, television cameras showed Gurriel pulling down on the corners of his eyes. He apologized for the incident following the game.

"I did not mean it to be offensive at any point," Gurriel said, per ESPN's Scott Lauber. "Quite the opposite. I have always had a lot of respect [for Japanese people]. ... I've never had anything against Darvish. For me, he's always been one of the best pitchers. I never had any luck against him. If I offended him, I apologize. It was not my intention."

Per Gabe Lacques and Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today, Gurriel also admitted using the Spanish term "Chinito," which translates to "little Chinese guy," in the dugout.

Darvish told reporters after the game he felt Gurriel's gesture was "disrespectful" and later issued a statement on Twitter about the situation:

A Cuba native, Gurriel played 15 seasons in the Cuban National Series and Japan Central League from 2001-16. He signed a five-year deal with the Astros in July 2016 and appeared in 36 games last season.

In his first full MLB season in 2017, the 33-year-old hit .299/.332/.486 with 18 home runs in 139 games.

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Yu Darvish Responds to Yuli Gurriel’s Offensive Gesture in World Series Game 3

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish issued a statement on Twitter in response to Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel's racist gesture during Game 3 of the 2017 World Series.

In the tweet, Darvish said "no one is perfect" and that "we should put our effort into learning rather than to accuse" Gurriel.

After Gurriel homered off Darvish in the second inning, television cameras showed the Astros slugger in the dugout, pulling on the corners of his eyes to narrow them.

"I didn't want to offend anybody," Gurriel said after the Astros' 5-3 win (via MLB.com's Brian McTaggart). "I don't want to offend him or anybody in Japan. I have a lot respect. I played in Japan."

"I did not mean it to be offensive at any point," Gurriel said, per ESPN.com's Scott Lauber. "Quite the opposite. I have always had a lot of respect [for Japanese people]. ... I've never had anything against Darvish. For me, he's always been one of the best pitchers. I never had any luck against him. If I offended him, I apologize. It was not my intention."

Per Lauber, Major League Baseball said in a statement Commissioner Rob Manfred will speak with Gurriel.

The Dodgers and Astros will play Game 4 of the World Series at Minute Maid Park on Saturday.

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Yu Darvish Responds to Yuli Gurriel’s Offensive Gesture in World Series Game 3

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish issued a statement on Twitter in response to Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel's racist gesture during Game 3 of the 2017 World Series.

In the tweet, Darvish said "no one is perfect" and that "we should put our effort into learning rather than to accuse" Gurriel.

    

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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Dodgers vs. Astros: Game 3 Time, TV Info, Live Stream and More

Coming off an eventful Game 2, the 2017 World Series shifts to Minute Maid Park for three games starting Friday with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros looking to take control. 

The Dodgers appeared on their way to a 2-0 series lead before the Astros stunned them with a late comeback, capped off by George Springer's two-run homer in the 11th inning, to even things up at one win apiece. 

Yu Darvish and Lance McCullers Jr. will handle starting-pitching duties for their respective teams. The Astros have been unstoppable at home in the playoffs with a perfect 6-0 record. The Dodgers have gone 3-1 on the road this postseason. 

                

2017 World Series Game 3 Info

Date: Friday, Oct. 27

TV: FOX

Start Time: 8 p.m. ET

Live Stream: FOX Sports Go

            

Key Storylines

Houston Astros: Home-Field Advantage

It can't be understated how important winning Game 2 was for the Astros. Prior to that, their offense looked inept on the road during these playoffs. 

Houston was able to get away with not being able to hit in Yankee Stadium during the American League Championship Series because it was guaranteed to play four games at home. That was a luxury it didn't have in the World Series. 

Now that the Astros are going home, they can sweep the next three to win their first championship. 

Even though Houston's offense has run hot and cold in October, depending on where the game is being played, the starting rotation has more than held up its end of the bargain. 

McCullers, Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander and Charlie Morton have combined for a 3.01 ERA with 84 strikeouts in 80.2 innings. 

The strange part of this is Houston was better on the road (53-28) than at home (48-33) during the regular season and scored 501 of its 896 runs away from Minute Maid Park.

Whatever has happened to the Astros lineup in road games this postseason could be rendered moot if they win the next three games at Minute Maid Park. 

            

Los Angeles Dodgers: Short-Term Memory

The Dodgers were three outs away from holding serve at home in the first two games of the World Series before Marwin Gonzalez got to Jansen with a solo home run at the top of the ninth. 

Per ESPN Stats & Info, the Dodgers bullpen gave up twice as many runs in Game 2 as in their first nine playoff games:

Jansen had converted an MLB-record 12 straight postseason saves before Gonzalez took him deep. The two teams exchanged runs over the next two innings, with each scoring twice in the 10th inning before the Astros got two more at the top of the 11th and held on for a 7-6 win after giving up one run back at the bottom half of the inning. 

Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson took a high-road approach after the loss. 

"There's a lot of ways we can take this," Pederson told reporters. "Sometimes you've just got to tip your cap and give the other team some credit. They've got a really good ballclub and a really good lineup."

Coming off a loss like the Dodgers suffered, it would be easy to ask if they had the ability to put it behind them and move forward. 

Fortunately, there is already some evidence that the Dodgers really don't let their bad moments linger. They had a stretch from Aug. 26 through Sept. 11 in which they lost 15 of 16 games. 

Gabe Lacques of USA Today called the 16-game stretch a "legitimate crisis." Third baseman Justin Turner told reporters the Dodgers were "the worst team in baseball" at the time of their 1-15 run.

The Dodgers closed the regular season by going 12-6, then won their first six playoff games against the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs

Heading to Houston was going to be a difficult task for the Dodgers, regardless of where things stood in the series. They made it a little more difficult on themselves after losing Game 2, but they are still capable of turning things around in a hurry. 

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Dodgers vs. Astros: Game 3 Time, TV Info, Live Stream and More

Coming off an eventful Game 2, the 2017 World Series shifts to Minute Maid Park for three games starting Friday with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros looking to take control. 

The Dodgers appeared on their way to a 2-0 series lead before the Astros stunned them with a late comeback, capped off by George Springer's two-run homer in the 11th inning, to even things up at one win apiece. 

Yu Darvish and Lance McCullers Jr. will handle starting-pitching duties for their respective teams. The Astros have been unstoppable at home in the playoffs with a perfect 6-0 record. The Dodgers have gone 3-1 on the road this postseason. 

                

2017 World Series Game 3 Info

Date: Friday, Oct. 27

TV: FOX

Start Time: 8 p.m. ET

Live Stream: FOX Sports Go

            

Key Storylines

Houston Astros: Home-Field Advantage

It can't be understated how important winning Game 2 was for the Astros. Prior to that, their offense looked inept on the road during these playoffs. 

Houston was able to get away with not being able to hit in Yankee Stadium during the American League Championship Series because it was guaranteed to play four games at home. That was a luxury it didn't have in the World Series. 

Now that the Astros are going home, they can sweep the next three to win their first championship. 

Even though Houston's offense has run hot and cold in October, depending on where the game is being played, the starting rotation has more than held up its end of the bargain. 

McCullers, Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander and Charlie Morton have combined for a 3.01 ERA with 84 strikeouts in 80.2 innings. 

The strange part of this is Houston was better on the road (53-28) than at home (48-33) during the regular season and scored 501 of its 896 runs away from Minute Maid Park.

Whatever has happened to the Astros lineup in road games this postseason could be rendered moot if they win the next three games at Minute Maid Park. 

            

Los Angeles Dodgers: Short-Term Memory

The Dodgers were three outs away from holding serve at home in the first two games of the World Series before Marwin Gonzalez got to Jansen with a solo home run at the top of the ninth. 

Per ESPN Stats & Info, the Dodgers bullpen gave up twice as many runs in Game 2 as in their first nine playoff games:

Jansen had converted an MLB-record 12 straight postseason saves before Gonzalez took him deep. The two teams exchanged runs over the next two innings, with each scoring twice in the 10th inning before the Astros got two more at the top of the 11th and held on for a 7-6 win after giving up one run back at the bottom half of the inning. 

Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson took a high-road approach after the loss. 

"There's a lot of ways we can take this," Pederson told reporters. "Sometimes you've just got to tip your cap and give the other team some credit. They've got a really good ballclub and a really good lineup."

Coming off a loss like the Dodgers suffered, it would be easy to ask if they had the ability to put it behind them and move forward. 

Fortunately, there is already some evidence that the Dodgers really don't let their bad moments linger. They had a stretch from Aug. 26 through Sept. 11 in which they lost 15 of 16 games. 

Gabe Lacques of USA Today called the 16-game stretch a "legitimate crisis." Third baseman Justin Turner told reporters the Dodgers were "the worst team in baseball" at the time of their 1-15 run.

The Dodgers closed the regular season by going 12-6, then won their first six playoff games against the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs

Heading to Houston was going to be a difficult task for the Dodgers, regardless of where things stood in the series. They made it a little more difficult on themselves after losing Game 2, but they are still capable of turning things around in a hurry. 

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Francisco Lindor and Anthony Rizzo Highlight 2017 Gold Glove Finalists

Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor and Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo highlight the American League and National League finalists for the 2017 Gold Glove awards.

New York Yankees rookie Aaron Judge, who had a banner year that could result in him being named AL MVP, is one of the three candidates to take home the Gold Glove for right field.

Rawlings Sports announced the finalists at nine different positions for this year's top defenders in Major League Baseball. 

 

American League Gold Glove Finalists

Pitcher: Alex Cobb (TB), Chris Sale (BOS), Marcus Stroman (TOR)

Catcher: Yan Gomes (CLE), Martin Maldonado (LAA), Salvador Perez (KC)

First Base: Eric Hosmer (KC), Mitch Moreland (BOS), Carlos Santana (CLE)

Second Base: Brian Dozier (MIN), Ian Kinsler (DET), Dustin Pedroia (BOS)

Third Base: Evan Longoria (TB), Manny Machado (BAL), Jose Ramirez (CLE)

Shortstop: Elvis Andrus (TEX), Francisco Lindor (CLE), Andrelton Simmons (LAA)

Left Field: Brett Gardner (NYY), Alex Gordon (KC), Justin Upton (LAA)

Center Field: Byron Buxton (MIN), Lorenzo Cain (KC), Kevin Pillar (TOR)

Right Field: Mookie Betts (BOS), Kole Calhoun (LAA), Aaron Judge (NYY)

 

National League Gold Glove Finalists

Pitcher: Zach Davies (MIL), R.A. Dickey (ATL), Zack Greinke (AZ)

Catcher: Tucker Barnhart (CIN), Yadier Molina (STL), Buster Posey (SF)

First Base: Paul Goldschmidt (AZ), Anthony Rizzo (CHC), Joey Votto (CIN)

Second Base: Dee Gordon (MIA), DJ LeMahieu (COL), Ben Zobrist (CHC)

Third Base: Nolan Arenado (COL), David Freese (PIT), Anthony Rendon (WAS)

Shortstop: Brandon Crawford (SF), Freddy Galvis (PHI), Corey Seager (LAD)

Left Field: Adam Duvall (CIN), Marcell Ozuna (MIA), Gerardo Parra (COL)

Center Field: Billy Hamilton (CIN), Ender Inciarte (ATL), Michael Taylor (WAS)

Right Field: Jason Heyward (CHC), Yasiel Puig (LAD), Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)

 

Lindor and Rizzo are the reigning Platinum Glove Award winners, given out annually to the best overall defensive player in each league. 

Both players face stiff competition to repeat in that category this year, as well as at their respective positions for the Gold Glove. 

Los Angeles Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons dwarfed the rest of the AL shortstops in defensive runs saved with 32; Lindor was second with five, a steep drop from last season when he was credited with saving 17 runs. 

Rizzo finished second among NL first baseman in Ultimate Zone Rating (4.0), trailing only Votto's 6.6 rating. Votto (11) and Goldschmidt (10) finished just ahead of Rizzo (nine) in defensive runs saved, which could make for a close vote when the winners are announced. 

Among the first-time nominees, Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton is poised to make himself a Gold Glove staple. 

Buxton finished third in Major League Baseball with 24 defensive runs saved, behind Simmons and Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts, but he played 200 fewer innings than they did due in part to a stint on the disabled list in July with a strained groin. 

Judge became a star for his offensive performance that included 52 home runs and a 1.049 OPS, but he deserves to be mentioned among the top defensive right fielders. He was credited with nine defensive runs saved and his 94 out-of-zone plays ranked second behind Betts (129). 

Betts is still the gold standard for right fielders in MLB and should earn his second straight Gold Glove, but Judge is likely to win the award at some point in his career if he continues his impressive defensive play. 

The 2017 Gold Glove Award winners will be announced on Tuesday, Nov. 7 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.

 

Stats via FanGraphs.com

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Francisco Lindor and Anthony Rizzo Highlight 2017 Gold Glove Finalists

Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor and Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo highlight the American League and National League finalists for the 2017 Gold Glove awards.

New York Yankees rookie Aaron Judge, who had a banner year that could result in him being named AL MVP, is one of the three candidates to take home the Gold Glove for right field.

Rawlings Sports announced the finalists at nine different positions for this year's top defenders in Major League Baseball. 

 

American League Gold Glove Finalists

Pitcher: Alex Cobb (TB), Chris Sale (BOS), Marcus Stroman (TOR)

Catcher: Yan Gomes (CLE), Martin Maldonado (LAA), Salvador Perez (KC)

First Base: Eric Hosmer (KC), Mitch Moreland (BOS), Carlos Santana (CLE)

Second Base: Brian Dozier (MIN), Ian Kinsler (DET), Dustin Pedroia (BOS)

Third Base: Evan Longoria (TB), Manny Machado (BAL), Jose Ramirez (CLE)

Shortstop: Elvis Andrus (TEX), Francisco Lindor (CLE), Andrelton Simmons (LAA)

Left Field: Brett Gardner (NYY), Alex Gordon (KC), Justin Upton (LAA)

Center Field: Byron Buxton (MIN), Lorenzo Cain (KC), Kevin Pillar (TOR)

Right Field: Mookie Betts (BOS), Kole Calhoun (LAA), Aaron Judge (NYY)

 

National League Gold Glove Finalists

Pitcher: Zach Davies (MIL), R.A. Dickey (ATL), Zack Greinke (AZ)

Catcher: Tucker Barnhart (CIN), Yadier Molina (STL), Buster Posey (SF)

First Base: Paul Goldschmidt (AZ), Anthony Rizzo (CHC), Joey Votto (CIN)

Second Base: Dee Gordon (MIA), DJ LeMahieu (COL), Ben Zobrist (CHC)

Third Base: Nolan Arenado (COL), David Freese (PIT), Anthony Rendon (WAS)

Shortstop: Brandon Crawford (SF), Freddy Galvis (PHI), Corey Seager (LAD)

Left Field: Adam Duvall (CIN), Marcell Ozuna (MIA), Gerardo Parra (COL)

Center Field: Billy Hamilton (CIN), Ender Inciarte (ATL), Michael Taylor (WAS)

Right Field: Jason Heyward (CHC), Yasiel Puig (LAD), Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)

 

Lindor and Rizzo are the reigning Platinum Glove Award winners, given out annually to the best overall defensive player in each league. 

Both players face stiff competition to repeat in that category this year, as well as at their respective positions for the Gold Glove. 

Los Angeles Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons dwarfed the rest of the AL shortstops in defensive runs saved with 32; Lindor was second with five, a steep drop from last season when he was credited with saving 17 runs. 

Rizzo finished second among NL first baseman in Ultimate Zone Rating (4.0), trailing only Votto's 6.6 rating. Votto (11) and Goldschmidt (10) finished just ahead of Rizzo (nine) in defensive runs saved, which could make for a close vote when the winners are announced. 

Among the first-time nominees, Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton is poised to make himself a Gold Glove staple. 

Buxton finished third in Major League Baseball with 24 defensive runs saved, behind Simmons and Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts, but he played 200 fewer innings than they did due in part to a stint on the disabled list in July with a strained groin. 

Judge became a star for his offensive performance that included 52 home runs and a 1.049 OPS, but he deserves to be mentioned among the top defensive right fielders. He was credited with nine defensive runs saved and his 94 out-of-zone plays ranked second behind Betts (129). 

Betts is still the gold standard for right fielders in MLB and should earn his second straight Gold Glove, but Judge is likely to win the award at some point in his career if he continues his impressive defensive play. 

The 2017 Gold Glove Award winners will be announced on Tuesday, Nov. 7 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.

 

Stats via FanGraphs.com

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz Amid 2017 World Series

With a maximum of five games remaining in the 2017 World Series, the countdown has begun for the start of free agency and trades during Major League Baseball's offseason. 

Since the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers are the only teams still standing, 28 clubs are deep in preparation for what figures to be a busy offseason. Free agency is a significant gamble because it's impossible to predict future performance for players, but trades are just as risky. 

One benefit of a trade is teams know the player has a contract already signed. It's up to the front office to decide if the assets they would need to give up to acquire a player won't hurt their long-term outlook. 

Looking at where things stand, the Miami Marlins will be the focal point for teams looking to make a deal this winter. 

Derek Jeter, who is part of the new ownership group that purchased the Marlins in September, brought up the word "rebuild" at his introductory press conference, via Tim Healey of the Sun-Sentinel:

"Moving forward, there’s going to be at times unpopular decisions that we make on behalf of the organization. Just understand that every decision we make is for the betterment of this organization. We have that in mind. 

"The word teardown and rebuild — yeah, we are rebuilding a franchise. But I think a lot of times people associate those words with losing. You never go into a situation and the message is that ‘We’re going to lose.’"

But what exactly does that mean?

Well, per Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, Jeter and co-owner Bruce Sherman have "proposed cutting the team’s 2018 payroll to around $90 million."

That's a substantial amount to think about because the Marlins had a $115.4 million payroll in 2017, per Cot's Baseball Contracts, and they have salaries that will go up next season to increase their payroll. 

MLB Roster Resource estimates the Marlins will have $132.5 million in salary commitments in 2018 after arbitration figures are factored in. 

Using that as a jumping off point, that leaves the Marlins with approximately $40 million to shed if they want to reach the budget Jeter and Sherman have outlined. 

The obvious name to come up in trade discussion is Giancarlo Stanton, who had an MVP-caliber season in 2017 with 59 home runs, .631 slugging percentage and 132 RBI. 

Per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, though, it's Stanton's fellow outfielders who might be more attractive options to teams. 

"One rival says that if the Marlins want to procure young talent, they are better off considering deals for well-priced Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna," Heyman wrote.

As impressive as Stanton's 2017 season was, the Marlins will face problems if they try to move him. He's missed at least 39 games in four of the past six seasons, including missing a combined 131 games in 2015-16. 

Stanton, who will turn 28 on Nov. 8, is signed through 2027, and his salary explodes from $14.5 last season to $25 million and up to $32 million from 2023-25, per Baseball-Reference.com

By comparison, Yelich is signed through 2021 and will make a combined total of $16.75 million over the next two seasons, per Cot's Baseball Contracts. Marcell Ozuna is under team control for two more seasons before he hits free agency. 

Stanton did lead all National League outfielders with 6.9 FanGraphs wins above replacement in 2017, but Ozuna (4.8) and Yelich (4.5) ranked fourth and sixth, respectively. 

The easiest way for the Marlins to get their payroll down will be finding a deal for Stanton. He did have suitors during the regular season, including the San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers, St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today

The Phillies might be at a disadvantage because the Marlins may not want to deal their biggest star to a division rival, but they are a fascinating team in this equation because they are set up perfectly to spend big. 

Odubel Herrera is the only Phillies player under contract in 2018. They have arbitration-eligible players who will add to their payroll, but there's nothing stopping them from making a play for at least one big free agent and trying to add another star via trade. 

The Cardinals have to decide if Stephen Piscotty, who missed 55 games with injuries in 2017, will be their long-term answer in right field. The Rangers would probably be better off pursuing a pitcher after trading Yu Darvish in July and finishing 21st with a 4.66 ERA as a team. 

The Giants need to start rebuilding after a disastrous 64-98 season, though it will be difficult to do if they don't want to trade Buster Posey or Madison Bumgarner because there isn't anything else on the MLB roster of substantial value. 

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World Series 2017: Odds and Prop Bets Info for Astros vs. Dodgers Game 1

The Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers are hours away from kicking off the 2017 World Series to determine which team will be crowned Major League Baseball's champion. 

Aside from the joy of watching the best team in the American League compete against the best team in the National League, the gambling in this series figures to be intense because of how closely matched these two clubs are. 

The Astros led the league in runs scored (896) during the regular season, and the Dodgers had the second-best ERA (3.38). As perfect counter-balances to each other, here are the key prop bets to look for in this year's Fall Classic. 

 

World Series Odds

Los Angeles Dodgers (-165, bet $165 to win $100)

Houston Astros (+145)

It's not a surprise the Dodgers are the favorites heading into the World Series. For starters, they will have home-field advantage, which has been critical in these playoffs. 

Through the first two rounds of the postseason, home teams have gone a combined 23-8. The Astros won a seven-game ALCS over the New York Yankees in which the home team won every game. 

The Dodgers were also the best home team in MLB during the regular season with a 57-24 record and have gone 4-0 at Dodger Stadium in the playoffs. 

If the Astros are going to win their first World Series, they will have to figure out how to win away from Minute Maid Park. They were actually better on the road (53-28) than at home (48-33) during the regular season, but their lone road win in the playoffs was in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Boston Red Sox

All of these factors combine to make the Dodgers easy betting favorites for the World Series as they look to win their first championship since 1988. 

 

World Series MVP Odds

Clayton Kershaw (+450)

Jose Altuve (+500)

Justin Turner (+600)

Justin Verlander (+800)

Chris Taylor (+800)

Dallas Keuchel (+1000)

Kenley Jansen (+1000)

 

Clayton Kershaw's playoff struggles have been a topic of discussion for years. The three-time NL Cy Young winner has a 4.40 ERA with 88 hits allowed, 16 homers allowed and 122 strikeouts in 106.1 innings over 21 postseason appearances.

There has been one key difference for Kershaw this year that has helped him appear more comfortable, especially after giving up four solo homers to the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 1 of the NLDS

Positive Residual provided the stats featuring Kershaw's number of pitches thrown and days of rest this postseason compared to last year:

The Dodgers rode Kershaw hard in the past because they had to. Their pitching depth has been a huge asset this October, with the addition of Yu Darvish giving Los Angeles a strong No. 2 and Rich Hill a quality No. 3. 

Starting pitchers will typically need to pitch at least two games if they want a shot to win a series MVP award. Justin Verlander was named ALCS MVP for his two dominant outings against the Yankees in which he gave up one run and struck out 21 hitters over 16 innings. 

If this turns into a short series of four or five games, the MVP will come from the position players or relievers on either side. 

Jose Altuve and Justin Turner have been the best hitters for their respective teams this postseason. Altuve did have a hiccup during the three ALCS games in New York with an 0-for-10 stretch, but he's had multiple hits in six of Houston's 11 playoff games this year. 

Turner has only had one game without a hit this postseason. The Dodgers third baseman has posted a .387/.500/.677 slash line with three home runs and more walks (six) than strikeouts (five) against the Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs

As good as Turner has been this October, he did sit out the Dodgers' workout on Sunday. General manager Farhan Zaidi told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com the star third baseman is "a little banged up" but will be ready to play in Game 1. 

Verlander is riding a wave of momentum since being acquired by the Astros, per Matt Kelly of MLB.com:

The Dodgers were in the middle of the MLB pack in strikeouts as a team with 1,380 during the regular season, giving Verlander the potential to keep putting up big numbers in that category. 

However, the most intriguing matchup of the series will be Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen against Houston hitters. 

The Astros are the hardest team in MLB to strike out, whiffing just 1,087 times during the regular season. Jansen is the modern equivalent of Mariano Rivera with a cutter that seems virtually impossible to hit. 

Jansen has had at least 100 strikeouts in four of the last five seasons and has walked a total of 26 hitters in 189.1 innings over the past three seasons. He's given up two hits with 12 strikeouts and one walk in eight innings this postseason. 

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has only turned to Jansen for more than one inning twice in the first two playoff series. He made three appearances of at least two innings last year, so his arm should be ready to handle a greater workload in the World Series if the situation arises. 

On the list of potential MVP candidates, there are no shortage of stars to choose from. Jansen isn't quite a sleeper contender, but his level of dominance and ability to pitch in virtually every game will give him a strong edge for the Dodgers. 

 

Odds via OddsShark.com

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Curtis Granderson Left Off Dodgers 2017 World Series Roster for Brandon McCarthy

The Los Angeles Dodgers are turning to right-hander Brandon McCarthy for pitching depth in the 2017 World Series against the Houston Astros.

On Tuesday, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reported the Dodgers left Curtis Granderson off their 25-man roster for the Fall Classic in favor of McCarthy. 

Granderson was on Los Angeles' 25-man roster for the National League Division Series and National League Championship Series. 

Shortstop Corey Seager, who was left off the NLCS roster with a back injury, is expected to be on the World Series roster, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts made the decision to go with the 34-year-old McCarthy, who hasn't pitched in a game since the regular-season finale Oct. 1, when he threw two innings in relief in a 6-3 win over the Colorado Rockies

Granderson is just 1-for-15 with eight strikeouts in six games this postseason. The 36-year-old outfielder struggled after an August trade from the New York Mets to the Dodgers, posting a .161/.288/.366 slash line in 36 regular-season games. 

 

 

 

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Jose Altuve, Astros Advance to World Series with ALCS Game 7 Win vs. Yankees

The Houston Astros held serve at home in the American League Championship Series, defeating the New York Yankees 4-0 in Game 7 on Saturday to clinch the franchise's second-ever trip to the World Series. 

After losing three straight games at Yankee Stadium and facing elimination coming back to Minute Maid Park, the Astros returned home to defeat the Yankees in the last two games to win the AL pennant for the first time. 

Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis both hit solo home runs. Brian McCann chipped in with a two-run double in the fifth inning to cap off Houston's offensive output. 

After winning 101 games during the regular season, the Astros will be in search of their first victory in a World Series game when they take on the Los Angeles Dodgers beginning Tuesday at Dodger Stadium.

Houston's only previous trip to the Fall Classic came in 2005, when it was swept by the Chicago White Sox in four games. 

Per ESPN Stats & Info, based on the records of Houston and Los Angeles, this kind of championship matchup hasn't happened in 47 years:

The game began as a pitching duel between CC Sabathia and Charlie Morton. Both starters held the opposition scoreless through the first three innings. 

The Astros were making Sabathia work hard, especially after the former AL Cy Young winner needed just seven pitches in the first inning. He gave up at least one hit and one walk in the next three innings. 

Fortunately for Sabathia, Aaron Judge is very tall in right field. The likely 2017 AL Rookie of the Year made a spectacular defensive play for the first out in the second inning by robbing Yuli Gurriel of a home run:

It's easy to get wrapped up in Judge's prodigious power, which produced 52 home runs during the regular season, but ESPN's Jerry Crasnick noted he's also an excellent defender:

Things would remain scoreless until the fourth inning when the Astros finally broke through off Sabathia on Gattis' solo homer that just missed the Crawford Boxes in left field:

Per ESPN's Jayson Stark, Gattis had been in a power slump dating back to the middle of summer before getting Houston on the board:

Sabathia's night—and possibly his Yankees career, since he will be a free agent—ended three batters later after giving up a walk to Brian McCann and a Josh Reddick single. It was not a good two-day stretch for New York starting pitchers, as noted by Joel Sherman of the New York Post:

Going back to Game 6, there were indications the Astros offense was on the verge of ending its series-long slump. Houston exploded for four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to take what was a two-run game and make the final 7-1.

Mike Axisa of CBS Sports wrote about what Houston's lineup was doing in the first five games against Yankees pitching:

"The Astros, as a team, went into Game 6 hitting .147/.234/.213 in the ALCS. Altuve went hitless in Games 3-5 in New York before picking up the two-run single and solo homer in Game 6. Carlos Correa went 2 for 12 in Games 3-5 before going 2 for 4 in Game 6. McCann? He was 0 for the postseason before his double broke the scoreless tie."

After Sabathia wobbled his way through 3.2 innings, the Astros finally broke down the dam in the bottom of the fifth with three runs off reliever Tommy Kahnle.

Before Houston's offense got going, though, the defense stepped up in a big way behind Morton. After Greg Bird started the fifth inning with a double and advanced to third on a wild pitch before being thrown out at the plate on a perfect throw from third baseman Alex Bregman to Brian McCann. 

MLB.com's Joe Posnanski had this assessment of what went down on Bregman's play to get Bird out and keep the score 1-0:

The Yankees' Achilles heel all season has been playing on the road. They were the only playoff team with a losing record away from home during the regular season (40-41), and they went just 1-6 away from Yankee Stadium in the postseason. 

This was the first playoff series since the 2004 NLCS, featuring the Astros and St. Louis Cardinals, in which the home team won all seven games. 

New York began the ALDS against Cleveland being shut out 4-0 when Trevor Bauer threw 36 curveballs out of his 99 pitches. That blueprint carried through to Game 7 of the ALCS for Morton and reliever Lance McCullers, per ESPN's David Schoenfield:

Even though the Yankees' young core missed out on an opportunity to reach the World Series this year, their future remains incredibly bright. Judge, Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, Greg Bird and Didi Gregorius are all under the age of 28, and they will have a full season of Sonny Gray in the rotation in 2018. 

The Astros were the best team in the AL for most of the season, despite finishing one game behind Cleveland in the overall standings. They struck gold on Aug. 31 by adding Justin Verlander to their starting rotation, pairing him with Dallas Keuchel, and closed the season by going 21-8 from Sept. 1-Oct. 1. 

Three years ago, when the Astros were in the midst of their fourth straight season with at least 90 losses, Sports Illustrated predicted they would win the 2017 World Series. 

With four more victories, the Astros will make that bold prognostication a reality. 

 

 


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Alex Cora Reportedly to Sign 3-Year Contract as Manager of Red Sox

Alex Cora's wait to become a manager in Major League Baseball is reportedly coming to an end.

According to a report from The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal on Saturday, Cora and the Red Sox have agreed in principle to a three-year deal once the Houston Astros' season is over.

After retiring following spring training in 2012, Cora spent four years working as an analyst for ESPN. The Astros hired him as a bench coach prior to the 2017 season.

Before working with the Astros, Cora had multiple interviews with teams over the previous few years, including the Washington Nationals, San Diego Padres and Miami Marlins after the 2015 season, per Rosenthal.

Despite being well-regarded enough to get interviews before, Cora had no significant managerial experience on his resume. The 14-year MLB veteran did manage a winter ball team in Puerto Rico and was Puerto Rico's general manager for the 2017 World Baseball Classic when it reached the final before losing to Team USA.

Cora did have the support of Astros players as he sought after a managerial job.

"He's a player's guy," Astros' centerfielder George Springer told Abbey Mastracco of NJ Advanced Media on Oct. 15. "It's easy to forget how hard it is when you're not playing the game and he hasn't forgotten that. He's into the game, he's for informational and he's going to be good someday somewhere."

Cora also has the benefit of a long MLB career under his belt to understand what players need to make it through the grind of a long season and how to handle the media questions in good and bad times.

The hiring of Cora represents a shift in philosophy for the Red Sox, whose last three managers all had previous experience in the job.

It's hard to argue with the results produced by Terry Francona and John Farrell, who combined to win three World Series titles and made the playoffs nine times from 2004-17. The less said about Bobby Valentine's one-year run in 2012, the better.

Red Sox President Dave Dombrowski has never shied away from making a move if he thinks it will improve his team. Farrell was fired after the 2017 season despite winning back-to-back American League East titles.

Cora inherits an excellent situation in Boston with young talent such as Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers to build around. The pitching rotation has an excellent one-two punch in Chris Sale and David Price, assuming the latter can stay healthy in 2018 after throwing 74.2 innings last season.

The pieces are in place for Cora to succeed as a manager right away. The media in Boston does bring added pressure to the job, but he's well aware of it after playing with the Red Sox from 2005-08.


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World Series 2017: Dates, Ticket Info, Top Odds and Predictions

The 2017 World Series begins Tuesday, though we still don't know the matchup that will determine Major League Baseball's champion. 

The Los Angeles Dodgers earned their spot in the World Series Thursday night with a dominant 11-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series. 

Los Angeles' opponent could be known as soon as Friday if the New York Yankees defeat the Houston Astros in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. 

Despite not knowing the official matchup for this year's World Series, there are some things to be taken away from the postseason so far that will help build anticipation for what's going to happen. 

         

2017 World Series Schedule

Game 1 (Oct. 24): New York Yankees/Houston Astros at Los Angeles Dodgers

Game 2 (Oct. 25): New York Yankees/Houston Astros at Los Angeles Dodgers

Game 3 (Oct. 27): Los Angeles Dodgers at New York Yankees/Houston Astros

Game 4 (Oct. 28): Los Angeles Dodgers at New York Yankees/Houston Astros

Game 5* (Oct. 29): Los Angeles Dodgers at New York Yankees/Houston Astros

Game 6* (Oct. 31): New York Yankees/Houston Astros at Los Angeles Dodgers

Game 7* (Nov. 1): New York Yankees/Houston Astros at Los Angeles Dodgers

*if necessary

         

Ticket Information: Stubhub.com

        

World Series Odds (via OddsShark.com)

Los Angeles Dodgers (-110)

New York Yankees (+190)

Houston Astros (+500)

The Dodgers clinched their first trip to the Fall Classic since 1988 by defeating the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs in five games to win the NLCS. 

This franchise has been on the cusp of breaking through over the past five seasons, reaching the NLCS in 2013 and 2016. Los Angeles has won five consecutive division titles, the longest active streak in MLB, and posted the league's best record in 2017 (104-58). 

The NL West champions had a chance to sweep their way into the World Series Wednesday against the Cubs, but Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis held Los Angeles' bats in check by allowing four hits in a 3-2 Game 4 win. 

Despite Chicago's win, the Dodgers were still in complete control of the series, as noted by Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times

"The Cubs still just had five hits, scoring all their runs on home runs," he wrote after Game 4. "They are still just batting .163 in this series. They still don't have a bullpen, because they used closer Wade Davis for 48 pitches to save their season."

Since Game 3 of the Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, pitching has been the story of Los Angeles' playoff run. Over the past six games, the Dodgers allowed nine runs in six games. 

Pitching is what made the Dodgers the best team in baseball during the regular season. They led the NL with a 3.38 ERA, including an MLB-best 3.39 ERA from their starting rotation. 

Los Angeles' offense finished 12th in MLB with 770 runs scored and 11th with 221 home runs. This isn't a lineup that is going to overpower opposing pitchers, so their rotation and bullpen have to be on point to end their 29-year championship drought. 

One thing working in their favor is whoever their AL opponent ends up being, the Houston Astros or the New York Yankees will have to play the first two games in Los Angeles. 

The Yankees hold a 3-2 series edge against the Astros heading into Friday's Game 6 at Minute Maid Park. Road games have not been kind to New York this postseason, which owns a 1-4 record away from Yankee Stadium in Houston and Cleveland. 

At home, the Yankees were an AL-best 51-30 during the season and 6-0 in the playoffs. They went 40-41 away from New York during the regular season, but the problems extend beyond just their record. 

"Aaron Judge, who struck out an unfathomable 16 times in 20 at-bats against Cleveland, was a quiet 1-for-7 in the games at Houston," wrote Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today. "Gary Sanchez went 0-for-11 in the first three games of the ALCS. Greg Bird was the only one to fare well in Houston, with a home run among his two hits in seven at-bats."

Judge, Sanchez and Bird have looked more comfortable at home than on the road this postseason. It doesn't help they have to face Justin Verlander Saturday in Game 6 after he pitched a complete game against the Yankees with 13 strikeouts.

Between starting pitching, bullpen and offense, the Yankees look like the most complete team left in the playoffs. They will need those three to start hitting away from New York if they want to add a 28th championship to their mantle. 

The Dodgers are the best team left at preventing runs. They are going to throw Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish and Rich Hill at whoever their AL opponent is, with Kershaw and Darvish likely being used multiple times. 

It's rare when the best team in baseball during the regular season wins the World Series. It happened last year with the Cubs, but before that, the last team with the best record outright to be crowned champion was the 2009 Yankees. 

The Dodgers will follow Chicago's example from 2016 to win their first championship since Kirk Gibson hobbled around the bases after hitting a walk-off homer against Oakland Athletics closer Dennis Eckersley 29 years ago. 

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Dodgers Advance to World Series over Cubs Behind Enrique Hernandez’s 3 HRs

For the first time since 1988, the Los Angeles Dodgers will play in the World Series after defeating the Chicago Cubs, 11-1, in Game 5 of the 2017 National League Championship Series. 

Enrique Hernandez was the offensive hero for Los Angeles with three home runs and seven RBI, including a grand slam in the top of the third inning. Clayton Kershaw exorcised his playoff demons with one run allowed on three hits with five strikeouts over six innings to lead the Dodgers to their first NL pennant in 29 years. 

                   

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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Dodgers Advance to World Series over Cubs Behind Enrique Hernandez’s 3 HRs

For the first time since 1988, the Los Angeles Dodgers will play in the World Series after defeating the Chicago Cubs, 11-1, in Game 5 of the 2017 National League Championship Series. 

Enrique Hernandez was the offensive hero for Los Angeles with three home runs and seven RBI, including a grand slam in the top of the third inning. Clayton Kershaw exorcised his playoff demons with one run allowed on three hits with five strikeouts over six innings to lead the Dodgers to their first NL pennant in 29 years. 

                   

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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Hanley Ramirez Undergoes Shoulder Surgery, Vows to Return Stronger After Injury

Boston Red Sox designated hitter Hanley Ramirez underwent shoulder surgery Tuesday, and he vowed on Twitter to come back stronger for the 2018 season:

Ramirez had an excellent 2016 campaign in a Red Sox uniform. His .866 OPS marked his best in a season since 2013, when he only played in 86 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers due to injuries.

The 33-year-old took a step back in 2017 with a .242/.320/.429 slash line and 23 home runs in 133 games. Ramirez battled injuries throughout the season, including to his oblique, hamstring and shoulders.

His bat will be crucial for the Red Sox in 2018 as they look to win a third straight American League East title and get over the hump in the playoffs after losing in the division series each of the past two seasons.

Boston is facing big questions this offseason, particularly at manager since the team fired John Farrell after the 2017 season. Ramirez's health going into next season is another question mark for the franchise, though having a procedure done now gives him four months to get ready for spring training.

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Portland, Montreal Reportedly Target Cities for MLB Expansion

Major League Baseball is reportedly looking into expansion and possible realignment that would eliminate the American and National Leagues.  

Per Tracy Ringolsby of Baseball America, Portland, Oregon, and Montreal would be the target cities if MLB decides to expand for the first time since 1998. 

Ringolsby also noted one proposal, if MLB expands to 32 teams, "would be to geographically restructure into four divisions," instead of the current two-league, six-division format.  

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said at a September news conference in Seattle that Portland "would be on a list" of potential expansion cities for the league. 

Manfred has also cited Montreal as a city of interest, and the Canadian Press reported in March that a group of investors met MLB's conditions to bring a team back to the city after the Expos left for Washington D.C. after the 2004 season. 

Ringolsby noted other elements of this potential realignment include a reduced schedule from 162 games to 156 games, with playoff teams being made up of the four division winners and the next eight teams by record playing four play-in games for the right to play the division champions. 

MLB last expanded in 1998 with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who have since dropped the Devil from their nickname, bringing the league to 30 teams. 

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Marwin Gonzalez Joined Wife Noel in Hospital for Birth of 3rd Child After Game 1

Houston Astros top-level utilityman Marwin Gonzalez experienced multiple highs Friday, helping his team take a 1-0 lead over the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series and going to the hospital where his wife, Noel, gave birth to the couple's third child.

Per ESPN's Scott Lauber, Gonzalez received a security escort out of Minute Maid Park following his postgame press conference to be present at a local hospital as his wife was giving birth.

Lauber noted Gonzalez jokingly said he was thinking of naming the couple's new baby boy after either Jose Altuve or Dallas Keuchel.

Before that, Gonzalez played a significant role in Houston's 2-1 win. He threw out Greg Bird at home plate after Aaron Judge singled to end the top of the fifth inning.

The Astros had just taken a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Keuchel had been cruising heading into the fifth, allowing just two singles. The left-hander finished with 10 strikeouts over seven innings.

The Yankees finally got on the board in the top of the ninth when Bird hit a solo homer off Astros closer Ken Giles, making Gonzalez's throw look even bigger in hindsight.

Gonzalez, 28, is having a year to remember. He set career highs with a .303/.377/.530 slash line and 23 home runs with 90 RBI in 134 regular-season games.

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Alex Rodriguez Says PED Suspension Cost Him His Reputation, More Than $40M

Alex Rodriguez's use of performance-enhancing drugs during his Major League Baseball career came at a high cost personally and financially.

In an interview on Undeniable with Joe Buck (via ESPN.com), Rodriguez said he lost his reputation and cost himself over $40 million in salary by taking steroids:

"Yeah, I mean there's so many frustrating things when you look back at that. Number one, you have a guaranteed contract for hundreds of millions of dollars. Literally, you can sit on the couch and get fat. Right, how stupid can you be? ... This thing cost me over $40 million. And it cost me my reputation, and it may have cost me the Hall of Fame and a number of other things."

 

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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