MLB Playoffs 2014: TV Schedule, Live Stream, Bracket Predictions for Day 11

There is no more time for relaxation as the MLB playoffs heat up with two extremely important games on Tuesday.

The St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants will each try to get a 2-1 advantage in the National League Championship Series in the always-important Game 3. This will be followed by the Baltimore Orioles trying to come back from a 2-0 deficit in the series against the Kansas City Royals in the American League Championship Series.

While all four teams come into the day with a chance of winning the World Series, things can be much different by the end of the action.

Here is a breakdown of what to expect from what should be an exciting day of baseball.

 

Cardinals at Giants (Series tied 1-1)

Where: AT&T Park, San Francisco, California

Date: Tuesday, October 14

Time: 4:07 p.m. ET

Channel: Fox Sports 1

Live Stream: Postseason.TV ($4.99 fee)

 

A Kolten Wong walk-off home run sealed the Game 2 victory for the St. Louis Cardinals and evened up the series at 1-1. However, things do not get any easier in Game 3 now that they need to go on the road to win.

To make matters worse, ESPN's Buster Olney reported catcher Yadier Molina was forced out of the team's last game:

ESPN Stats and Info noted how important he is to the rotation:

While the Cardinals played a majority of the season without Molina, it is clear how important he is on both offense and defense, and he will be missed if he cannot play.

Meanwhile, Tim Hudson is coming off a great outing in his last start, allowing just one run in 7.1 innings against the Washington Nationals. In 11 career postseason appearances, the veteran now has a solid 3.19 ERA.

It will be up to fellow veteran John Lackey to repeat his own gem from the National League Division Series. The 35-year-old pitcher went seven innings with just one run allowed against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Neither pitcher has overbearing stuff anymore, but each knows how to get hitters out and can come through in big situations. This could keep the game low-scoring throughout with both sides struggling to get runs across.

With St. Louis just 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position this series, runs will be even tougher to come by, and the team could end up falling down 2-1 in this series.

Prediction: Giants 3, Cardinals 1

 

Orioles vs. Royals (Kansas City leads 2-0)

Where: Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri

Date: Tuesday, October 14

Time: 8:07 p.m. ET

Channel: TBS

Live Stream: Postseason.TV ($4.99 fee)

 

The Kansas City Royals took control of the series by leaving Baltimore with two wins, setting themselves up to clinch the American League pennant in front of their home fans.

However, the series is not over yet, and the Orioles believe they have the ability to come back and win.

Nelson Cruz explained his mindset heading into Game 3, via Ken Davidoff of the New York Post:

We do an amazing job coming back every time they jump ahead. We’re able to come back and tie the game, but we haven’t been able to take the lead. That’s what we need. So I trust my teammates and I trust what we have here. I believe if one team can come back and win the series, it’s us.

Of course, the challenge will be to take away the energy the Royals play with each and every game. Even when the team is not playing well, they seem to rally around each other to come away with wins.

Former player Jerry Hairston Jr. compared the squad to another team that had postseason success:

It seems to not matter who is at the plate or on the mound, this squad always seems to have players coming through in big situations. Even if Baltimore gets an early lead in Game 3, the Royals will have the confidence to come back and earn a win.

The Orioles have done this up until this series but fell flat in the first two games. With Baltimore coming up short on starting pitchers, this team could be in trouble.

Prediction: Royals 6, Orioles 4

 

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ALCS Schedule 2014: Breaking Down Remainder of Orioles vs. Royals

The Kansas City Royals have won the first two games of the American League Championship Series, but the Baltimore Orioles are not going away anytime soon.

As they have been doing all postseason long, the Royals came through with clutch hits late to break late ties in Games 1 and 2. This put the squad halfway to the World Series as just two more wins can give them the pennant.

Still, the Orioles have played well throughout the season and dominated the Detroit Tigers in the previous round, meaning the talent is there to turn things around. The wins will have to come quickly, though, or the team will be going home before anticipated.

Here is a look at the upcoming schedule for the rest of the series and a breakdown of what to expect:

The Orioles might be getting a gift in Game 3 in the form of a familiar face: Jeremy Guthrie. Royals manager Ned Yost will put the veteran on the mound to start the game, as Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com explains:

While he did not play a full season, Danny Duffy had the best ERA of any Royals starter with a 2.53 mark, while Guthrie's ERA stood at 4.13. He does not strike out a lot of batters and relies on the defense behind him to make plays.

The former Orioles pitcher twice led the league in losses while playing for Baltimore and has not improved too much. This makes it a strange decision for the start in a big game in Kansas City.

Baltimore will try to take advantage of this and finally get a win. Manager Buck Showalter is doing his best to keep the team confident with this message:

With the way this team can score runs, this seems to be a good chance to cut the series deficit to one as long as Wei-Yin Chen can handle his role as the starter.

At this point, the biggest question is whether the Orioles bullpen can step up after a terrible start to the series. 

Baltimore ranked sixth in the majors during the regular season with a 3.10 reliever ERA in 2014, but key members like Darren O'Day, Brian Matusz and Zach Britton have struggled in this series. Britton is especially disappointing with his rare appearance, as noted by Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Britton's second appearance was just as bad when he gave up a run and two hits in one inning. The closer had 37 saves during the season, but he might not be as trustworthy at this point as the team had hoped.

If this bullpen cannot turn things around, the squad could be in serious trouble.

Still, a lot of the credit so far has to go to the Royals lineup for coming through when many had doubted them. The unit ranked last in the majors in home runs and mostly relied on speed and timely hitting to score runs. However, Jesse Spector of Sporting News noted the series has not gone as expected:

No matter how they get runs, the Royals have found ways to get on the board in big moments, which has led to wins. As long as the hits keep coming, so will the victories.

The rest of the series is certain to be exciting, no matter who wins. Kansas City certainly has the advantage after winning twice on the road, but it would be a mistake to say it is over.

Expect some more great hitting performances and high-scoring games to complete a series that should last six or seven games.

 

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Yordano Ventura Injury: Updates on Royals SP’s Shoulder and Return

The Kansas City Royals might have to continue their postseason push without Yordano Ventura after the pitcher suffered a shoulder injury in his Game 2 start in the American League Championship Series.

After giving up four runs in 5.2 innings against the Baltimore Orioles, the 23-year-old pitcher was taken out of the game in the middle of an at-bat, according to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports:

The Royals made an official diagnosis shortly afterward:

Andy McCullough of The Kansas City Star noted Ventura appeared to be in pain before coming out:

Another warning sign was his diminished velocity, as Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs pointed out:

Ventura shut down the Los Angeles Angels in his only other start of the postseason, allowing just one run in seven innings to help the Royals win Game 2 of the American League Division Series. This is just a continuation of what he showcased all year long, tallying a 14-10 record with a 3.20 ERA in his first full season in the majors.

While James Shields is considered the team's ace thanks to his past success and experience, Ventura had the best ERA of all of Kansas City's qualified starters (Danny Duffy had a better mark but did not pitch enough innings). 

The Royals will hope this injury does not turn out to be serious in case he is needed later in the series or in the Fall Classic. Otherwise, the team will need more production out of Duffy, Jason Vargas and possibly Jeremy Guthrie.

 

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MLB Playoffs 2014: Key Players Who Must Step Up in NLCS

The San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals are used to competing in the National League Championship Series, but the team that advances from here is the one that gets the biggest contributions from key players.

Whichever squad advances to the World Series, it will be the fifth year in a row the NL representative will be one of these two teams. This has led to plenty of postseason experience and a lot of confidence from each side of the field.

Still, important players on both teams have struggled in the early going of the playoffs. These stars will need to turn things around in a hurry if they want to keep playing in October.

 

Adam Wainwright, Cardinals

After he had a disappointing opening start against the Los Angeles Dodgers, there were serious concerns about Adam Wainwright's elbow. The All-Star only pitched 4.2 innings and allowed 11 hits and six runs, equal to the amount of runs he allowed in the entire month of September.

Despite the struggles, manager Mike Matheny feels his top pitcher can adjust to his problems. He explained in a recent press conference:

Waino was struggling to find a good feel that Game 1 and that's why it looked very a-typical of Adam Wainwright. But that's happened at different times throughout our season and he's been able to bounce back and figure it out and make it work–not just make it work, be an elite pitcher. He's fine.

The Cardinals will need him to be an elite pitcher because despite a deep rotation, he is by far the best on the roster. Wainwright finished the year with 20 wins and a 2.38 ERA, with only Johnny Cueto and Clayton Kershaw posting better numbers in the National League.

When he is at his best, Wainwright is a true stopper who can get St. Louis a much-needed win in any situation. However, a bad start could change the entire outlook of the rest of the series. The Cardinals do not want this to happen.

 

Jhonny Peralta, Cardinals

Thanks to injuries and various departures, Jhonny Peralta was thrust into an important role in his first year with the Cardinals. He responded with 21 home runs and 75 RBI while playing solid defense throughout the season.

After being elevated to the No. 4 spot in the batting order, though, Peralta has started to struggle. In four games against the Dodgers, the shortstop managed just a .214 batting average with one extra-base hit and zero RBI.

While Peralta did have a few key hits in the series, it was not quite what the team has come to expect from him over the course of the year. With Yadier Molina struggling behind him in the order as well, there is more pressure on the shortstop to come through.

The good news is the talent is there and the matchups could lead to plenty of success. Madison Bumgarner is a tough lefty, but Peralta did well against lefties this season, totaling an OPS 128 points higher than against righties. If he gets his team off to a good start, he could have a very good series.

 

Hunter Pence, Giants

In the field, Hunter Pence showed the ability to come through in the clutch with a great against-the-wall catch in Game 4 against the Washington Nationals, as described by Jayson Stark of ESPN:

However, he did not display his clutch ability at the plate despite getting at least one hit in every game. The outfielder went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position and was a poster boy for the entire team's struggles in this area. The Giants have had the most opportunities with runners in scoring position in the postseason but hit just .176 in that situation.

The only teams in the last round that performed worse, the Nationals and Los Angeles Angels, are watching the rest of the playoffs from home.

This is a bit of a concern for San Francisco since timely hitting was a key to its success throughout the year. The team led the majors with a .259 batting average with two outs and runners in scoring position—led by Pence who had an incredible .404 mark in this situation.

The Giants were lucky Washington could not come through in big moments, but the Cardinals will not give away opportunities. They have to make sure to bring home runners when they can in order to succeed in this series.

 

Hunter Strickland, Giants

Hunter Strickland earned a spot on the postseason roster thanks to an incredible performance throughout September, pitching seven scoreless innings without a single walk. He continued his lights-out pitching with his playoff debut in Game 1, as Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan stated:

Unfortunately, this was followed up with solo home runs allowed to Bryce Harper and Asdrubal Cabrera. When Strickland faced Harper again in Game 4, the result was the same with a long shot into McCovey Cove.

As a result, Strickland goes into the NLCS with a 9.00 ERA. Jean Machi (4.50) is the only other player on the Giants staff with a postseason ERA above 2.00.

While you can blame a small sample size for these numbers, the important thing for Strickland is to not lose confidence after giving up a few long shots in the last round. He has to remain aggressive against the talented Cardinals hitters and remain a key player in the San Francisco bullpen. Otherwise, his mistakes could start leading to losses.

 

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MLB Playoff Bracket 2014: Schedule and Breakdown of League Championship Series

Although the teams remaining in the MLB playoffs might not have been the ones we were expecting, the four squads still in the hunt are certain to create an exciting battle for the World Series.

The Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles will battle in the American League Championship Series with both teams relatively new to this stage. The Orioles were last here in 1997, while the Royals had not even reached the playoffs since 1985 before this year.

You can imagine a lot of nerves from both sides as the majority of players compete in the biggest series of their careers.

On the other hand, the National League Championship Series will feature two teams very comfortable playing in October. The San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals have combined to win three of the last four World Series titles, and this year will represent the fifth in a row that one of them will take home the pennant.

Fans of other teams might be sick of seeing these two squads win, but there is no denying either side's ability to come through when it matters.

This will create an interesting series on both sides of the bracket, which can be seen on MLB.com. Here is a complete look at the playoff schedule for each conference and a quick breakdown of what to expect.

 

Baltimore Orioles vs. Kansas City Royals

The Orioles and Royals have two very different styles, but they are both fun to watch.

Offensively, Baltimore tends to wait for the big hit thanks to a lineup that can hit home runs at just about any time. The team led the majors in long balls this season with 211, led by Nelson Cruz with 40. 

Conversely, Kansas City finished last in the league with just 95 home runs and relies on small ball to manufacture runs. Ralph D. Russo of the Associated Press mocked the team's lineup before the start of the postseason:

Still, the club has been finding ways to score through bunts, stolen bases and timely hitting. Ned Yost might come under a lot of heat for various reasons, but his team is getting the job done.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter does not get the same type of criticism, though, as he has become almost universally loved for his work with his team. T.J. Quinn of ESPN notes the support he receives from the hometown fans:

Showalter continued to show his professionalism after winning his first career playoff series, immediately discussing the players in the press conference after the game:

The thing I’m most excited about is the players getting an opportunity to do this and trying to have an impact on their lives. I mean, I got it. I’m a ship passing in the night. This is fun to watch and believe me, I’m happier than you can imagine. But most of it comes from getting to see the players get what they put into it.

The manager notoriously does a great job of managing his bullpen, which will be interesting to watch throughout the series.

Kansas City seems overmatched in most areas except for starting pitching, where the team has a mix of veterans and young studs who can post big performances in each game. However, the Orioles starters should be able to do just enough to keep up and come away with a series win.

Prediction: Orioles win in 6

 

St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants

Despite dealing with injuries throughout the season, the Cardinals got to the playoffs on the strength of their starting rotation. The unit ranked sixth in the majors with a 3.44 ERA, and that continued against the Los Angeles Dodgers with some great performances by John Lackey and Lance Lynn.

Of course, one person who struggled was the one they least expected. Adam Wainwright allowed six runs in his only start and was questionable to pitch again while he dealt with elbow trouble. The good news is he is ready to pitch in Game 1 of the NLCS, according to Stan McNeal of Fox Sports Midwest:

If he can perform to his ability and the rest of the rotation can do what it did in the last round, St. Louis will be in good shape. 

This will be important because the Cardinals will have to match up with a Giants pitching staff that has posted a 1.33 ERA and 0.80 WHIP so far in the playoffs, including both starters and bullpen. Aside from Hunter Strickland, who allowed three home runs in three innings pitched, everyone who stepped onto the mound was successful.

San Francisco will have experienced starters ready to go at the start of the series, as detailed by Andrew Baggarly of CSN:

As a result, this series will come down to the hitting. The Cardinals were impressive in the last round despite the fact the team ranked just 24th in the majors in runs scored during the regular season.

The problem is that while players like Matt Carpenter and Matt Adams came through in the NLDS, there are few hitters who really scare opposing pitchers in the lineup. On the other hand, the Giants' middle of the order really knows how to do damage when given the chance.

If the Giants can improve their hitting with runners in scoring position, they should be able to get enough runs to win this series. 

Prediction: Giants win in 7

 

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Clayton Kershaw to Pitch Game 4 of NLDS for Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers are not going to wait to utilize their best pitcher, as Clayton Kershaw will start in Game 4 in the National League Division Series Tuesday against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Rachel Nichols of Turner Sports reported the news, noting it will come on short rest:

Kershaw led the majors with a 1.77 ERA as well as 21 wins and is the favorite to bring home his third Cy Young Award in four years. Based on his dominance for the Dodgers throughout the season, he is also a top contender for the National League MVP.

Unfortunately for Kershaw and his team, the Cardinals were able to get to him in his first start of the series, as he allowed eight earned runs in 6.2 innings. The Dodgers dropped the opening game before pulling even with a dramatic win in Game 2. Game 3 will be played Monday night. 

While Los Angeles might be cautious about trusting a pitcher who struggled so much in the first game, manager Don Mattingly is confident about Kershaw's ability to bounce back, per Newsday's David Lennon:

The 26-year-old pitcher also showed his emotion in preparing for the upcoming start, as noted by MLB.com's Richard Justice:

Of course, it is important to note Kershaw allowed seven runs in his previous postseason appearance prior to Game 1, also coming against the Cardinals in the 2013 National League Championship Series. For his career, he only has a 5.20 ERA in 10 playoff games with a 1-4 overall record. This is much different than his 2.48 career ERA in the regular season.

The Dodgers will simply hope that these struggles are nothing more than a fluke and that their ace will be able to recover for a quality start in Game 4.

If necessary, Zack Greinke will likely start Game 5 after pitching seven shutout innings in Game 2.

 

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ALCS Schedule 2014: Royals vs. Orioles Series Coverage Guide and Predictions

While it might not have been the matchup most were expecting, the Baltimore Orioles will take on the Kansas City Royals in the 2014 American League Championship Series.

According to Bleacher Report's Joel Reuter, Baltimore came into the season with 40-1 odds to win the World Series while Kansas City was at 50-1. This outside view obviously did not affect those in the clubhouses because the two squads were able to play their way into the playoffs and are now one step away from a pennant. 

Each team was able to earn a sweep over a difficult opponent in the first round. The Royals knocked off the Los Angeles Angels, which had the best record in baseball this season. The Orioles beat the Detroit Tigers despite facing three Cy Young Award winners in a row (Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and David Price).

These squads will look to keep their momentum going against each other and will try to earn a ticket into the World Series.

Here is a look at the upcoming series with predictions for the highly anticipated slate of games.

 

Pitching Battle

While the order for the entire series is not yet known for either team, the Royals know exactly who they are sending out for Game 1: "Big Game James." Andy McCullough of The Kansas City Star reports James Shields will get the ball for Kansas City on Friday:

The interesting note is this means Shields will start three of the team's first five postseason games. Considering he has now made eight playoff starts in his career on a squad full of players who have never reached this level before, this makes a lot of sense.

Meanwhile, Shields has also had a lot of success against the Orioles, winning both of his starts against them in 2014 with a 3.21 ERA. The only person on the roster with at least a .300 batting average against Shields with a minimum of 10 at bats is Adam Jones (.304), and no one has more than two home runs. 

Beyond Shields, the Royals have more experience in Jason Vargas as well as a pair of youngsters with electric stuff in Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy. McCullough joked about how good Ventura can be when he is on:

With Greg Holland, Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera coming out of the bullpen, Kansas City will be a tough team to score against in this series.

Even with these players, though, the Orioles still have the advantage in the late innings with a bullpen that ranked sixth in the majors with a 3.10 ERA. A lot of this has to do with the talent on the roster, but the real credit has to go to manager Buck Showalter, who has become a master of managing his relievers.

Andrew Miller, who came over from the Boston Red Sox at the trade deadline, explained his admiration for the managerial decisions, via Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com:

All of us in the dugout are sitting there guessing, what's the right move? Whatever he does seems to be the right one. I've had a lot of great coaches, a lot of great managers, but I don't know that I've ever seen anybody as prepared as Buck Showalter. I think it pays off. I think the staff as a whole is really, really special and I think it goes a long ways.

The Orioles starting rotation might not have big names that intimidate opposing teams, but Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen and Bud Norris have pitched well all year into the playoffs. Still, the important thing is that Showalter knows he can go to his bullpen early if needed and trust it to put zeros on the board.

You might not see complete-game shutouts from either team in this series, and few of the starters will make eye-opening starts, but the full staffs will keep each game low-scoring.

 

Offense

Without Chris Davis, Matt Wieters and Manny Machado, many expected the Orioles lineup to fall apart. However, it simply keeps coming through with big hits.

Joe Simpson of TBS made this proclamation during the last series:

Adam Jones and Nelson Cruz are the big hitters on offense, but almost everyone who steps up to the plate has home run power. When Baltimore gets a few players on base, you always have to be scared of a two- or three-run shot.

On the other hand, the Royals utilize a different strategy to score runs. With only a few real power threats (and no one with over 20 home runs this season), they have to rely on speed and timely hitting to get onto the scoreboard.

As Damon Salvadore of the Latin Post noted, this has led to success all season:

The problem is this is harder to replicate every game, especially when the .240 batting average in the postseason catches up to them.

Kansas City can win low-scoring games but could end up getting in trouble in back-and-forth battles.

 

Prediction

The Royals have become fan favorites in this postseason with young players seemingly having fun. Patrick O'Neal of Fox Sports West discusses the energy on display in the home games:

It seems clear this team will be a playoff contender for many years to come.

Unfortunately for this squad, the Orioles have the advantage in too many aspects of the game. Even if the starting pitchers struggle, the bullpen and lineup have shown the ability to put it all together to consistently win games.

With Showalter making great moves throughout the year and Royals manager Ned Yost seemingly getting away with mostly bad ones, this will catch up to the Royals, and the playoff run will end here.

Prediction: Orioles win in six games

 

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MLB Rumors: Latest Trade Talk Surrounding Daniel Murphy, Kyle Seager and More

As the top teams in baseball continue to fight for a World Series title, the rest of the league will spend this time looking for ways to improve for next season.

No matter what a squad did in 2014, front offices usually spend the next few months looking for upgrades both internally and externally. As the prices of free agents continue to rise, one good way to bring in talent is through trades. Fortunately, there are a few quality players who could be available before the start of the 2015 season.

Although none of these potential moves are too close to completion, here is a look at players who could be on the block this winter.

 

Daniel Murphy, 2B, New York Mets

Although Daniel Murphy is coming off his first All-Star appearance, his days with the New York Mets could be numbered.

Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com discusses money being an issue regarding his future with the club.

Murphy earned $5.7 million this season, is eligible for arbitration one more time, then is due to become a free agent after the 2015 season. 

So, basically, it is time for the Mets to decide to retain Murphy via a contract extension or look to get some return before he walks as a free agent in a year. And although Murphy has expressed a willingness to talk contract, Mets officials have shown no inclination to engage him. Apparently they do not view him as $10 million a year player going forward. 

So it’s time to deal. 

Murphy has turned himself into a quality hitter, batting .289 with nine home runs and 37 doubles this season. This included a poor end to the season, though, as noted by Anthony DiComo of MLB.com:

Still, the big problem with the second baseman is his struggles in the field. According to Baseball Reference, Murphy had a negative defensive WAR in each of the last three seasons, including a mark of minus-1.0 this season.

This puts the player in a tough spot. He could either be an above-average hitter and bad defensive middle infielder or a solid corner infielder who does not have enough power to make it worth playing him at those positions.

There are certainly teams who would love to add Murphy's bat in the lineup, but the Mets would not be out of line trying to trade him this winter.

 

Jose Iglesias, SS, Detroit Tigers

Although Jose Iglesias missed all of the 2014 season with shin injuries, he appears on track to be a top player once again in 2015. 

The shortstop passed necessary tests to put weight back on his legs, and the Tigers' head trainer, Kevin Rand, explained his optimism to Chris Iott of MLive.com:

It was the best possible outcome we could hope for...Basically, it showed that the bone has healed to the point that they feel comfortable now going back to doing lower-body rehabilitation and conditioning and start loading that and see how it goes. 

He's able to start doing lower-body work, lower-body strengthening and lower-body conditioning. He's been limited in what he could do. He could do some pool work, which he had done. He's now going to get into that weight-bearing stage.

Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe discussed the fact that Iglesias is now likely to remain in Detroit despite some rumors to the contrary. He explained, "There had been some discussion that Iglesias could become trade bait, but it’s expected he will pick up where he left off as one of the top defensive shortstops in baseball."

The Tigers saw their shortstops combine to bat just .223 this season with six home runs, with Eugenio Suarez and Andrew Romine taking most of the work. Obviously, the squad will hope Iglesias can provide more production for the perennial contenders.

Still, there will be plenty of teams interested if the 24-year-old player was made available. Joel Sherman of the New York Post believes Iglesias would be a top option to replace Derek Jeter on the New York Yankees.

No matter what happens, Detroit will hope the young star can get healthy so he can provide value either on the team or off it.

 

Kyle Seager, 3B, Seattle Mariners

Almost everything went poorly this season for the Boston Red Sox, but a major issue was getting production from players at third base. Will Middlebrooks and Brock Holt combined for just three home runs while being inconsistent in pretty much every facet of the game.

Tim Britton of The Providence Journal also noted Middlebrooks was asked to play in winter ball but refused:

It would not be surprising if his days are numbered in Boston.

Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald believes the team is looking for help via a trade, focusing on Kyle Seager as a top option:

The Sox would love to put together a package to lure Kyle Seager from Seattle. But the 26-year-old has emerged as a foundational player for the Mariners, who will try to sign him to a contract extension now that he’s eligible for salary arbitration.

Other possible trade candidates might emerge, including the Indians’ Lonnie Chisenhall, the Cubs’ Luis Valbuena and the Pirates’ Pedro Alvarez.

Seager is coming off a good season with the Seattle Mariners, totaling a career high of 25 home runs and 96 RBI. Both of these numbers also led the team, which fell just short of the playoffs.

However, the 26-year-old player is going to start getting more expensive and could eventually price himself out of the Mariners' range. The Red Sox can make a good offer with young prospects and steal the quality player to make a big upgrade at an important position.

 

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NLDS Schedule 2014: Dates and Predictions for Cardinals vs. Dodgers

There might not be a better opening-round series in the MLB playoffs than the St. Louis Cardinals against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

These two organizations are loaded with experience and know what it takes to win at this level. The Cardinals have reached the postseason 11 times in the past 15 years, winning four pennants and two World Series titles. Meanwhile, the Dodgers went to the NLCS last season and have quite a few veterans who have been in this spot before.

This is certain to create a well-played series with both sides finding ways to come through in big moments.

In order to keep up with every game of this highly anticipated series, here is a look at the schedule and a breakdown of what to expect over the next week.

 

Pitching Breakdown

There is no question the Dodgers have the best pitcher (and arguably best player) in the series in Clayton Kershaw. The lefty led the majors in both wins and ERA and hardly ever gave opponents a chance to win.

Seth Davis of CBS Sports gave his opinion on the player's season:

Meanwhile, Aaron Gleeman of NBC Sports noted how well Kershaw has pitched in a historical context:

It is easy to simply pencil in the Dodgers for wins in the likely two games he starts this series. However, it is important to remember the Cardinals beat Kershaw twice in the NLCS a year ago, both on great starts by Michael Wacha.

Although Wacha has not been himself since returning from a shoulder injury, the Cardinals still have plenty of talent around Adam Wainwright, who will start Game 1. Lance Lynn has had a great season and John Lackey usually pitches well in the playoffs, accumulating a 3.03 ERA in 19 appearances.

Zack Greinke and Kershaw likely give the Dodgers a slight advantage on the mound going into each game, but this battle is much closer than one would think.

 

Offense

In past seasons, the St. Louis lineup was a nightmare for opposing pitchers because it simply didn't end. There were quality hitters from top to bottom and everyone was capable of getting a big hit when it was needed.

However, that same depth is not there this year due to injuries and poor performances throughout. ESPN.com's Tim Kurkjian describes the problems for the Cardinals offense:

It simply is not the same group from 2013. That team led the NL in scoring, this team scored 164 fewer runs, and finished 10th in runs scored. The Cardinals were last in the NL with 105 homers. Matt Holliday is the only Cardinal who finished with more than 75 RBIs. And they'll be left-handed heavy -- Matt CarpenterMatt AdamsJon JayKolten Wong -- going against Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

With Carlos Beltran and Allen Craig no longer with the team and Yadier Molina struggling since returning from an injury, the group remaining does not scare anyone. After finishing 23rd in the majors in runs scored, these problems are likely to continue in the playoffs.

On the other hand, the Dodgers have a great balance of speed (Dee Gordon, Carl Crawford), power (Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp) and pure hitting ability (Hanley Ramirez, Yasiel Puig). These elements combine to create a lineup that could score in a number of different ways.

This could end up making the difference in what could become a short series.

 

 

Prediction: Dodgers Win in 4 Games

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly recently discussed the struggles his team has had against the Cardinals:

They’re a good club. They’ve been kind of a thorn in our side the last couple years. They beat us last year and knocked us out. I think the year before they beat us late in the year here in LA to kind of keep us out of the wild card.

So they’ve been a tough club for us. … It’s kind of turned into a pretty good rivalry.

The entire roster will do its best to make sure this one-sided rivalry does not continue in 2014.

Kershaw looks even better than last season and is ready to lead the team to victory. Meanwhile, the Cardinals appear worse in almost every facet of the game.

Los Angeles should be able to finally overcome St. Louis and advance to the National League Championship Series.

 

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MLB Playoff Schedule 2014: Full Bracket and Dates for Every Game of Postseason

No matter what happened during the regular season, all 10 teams in the MLB playoffs believe they have what it takes to win the World Series.

Obviously, the Los Angeles Angels and Washington Nationals come into the postseason as top contenders after earning the best records in their respective leagues. However, baseball does not always come through the way it should on paper.

With teams fighting for their lives in the Wild Card Games, followed by a divisional round that will feature plenty of intriguing matchups, anything can happen over the next few weeks.

Make sure you catch all of the action with this guide. All schedule info courtesy of MLB.com

 

Bracket

Cork Gaines of Business Insider provided this useful bracket of the tournament:

Obviously, there are a number of potentially great matchups that could take place later in the postseason, from the "Beltway Series" of the Baltimore Orioles against the Nationals to a Los Angeles series between the Angels and the Dodgers.

 

Wild Card Round

This is certainly the most intense of all the rounds because the series are decided by just one game. This means a bad pitching performance or a missed opportunity with runners in scoring position can end a season in a blink.

The first battle will be extremely interesting thanks to the great pitching matchup of veterans, as noted by USA Today:

Although the Kansas City Royals have not been in the playoffs since 1985 and the Oakland Athletics have struggled to make deep runs, both Jon Lester and James Shields are quite familiar with pitching in October.

Lester has been especially impressive in the postseason, totaling a 2.11 ERA in 13 appearances en route to two World Series titles. It will be up to Shields to match the big-game pitcher.

In the National League, the San Francisco Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates will battle after each fell out of their own division races down the stretch.

Madison Bumgarner has had yet another fine season and should be a safe bet or a quality start for the Giants, but Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes why Edinson Volquez was a great choice for the Pirates:

Both teams could end up having a tough time matching up with the Nationals in the next round, but either one will be happy to get a chance. 

 

Division Series

The Detroit Tigers might have sneaked into the playoffs, but they are a scary bunch after winning their division. Pedro Martinez discusses the advantage they have going forward:

While the Orioles have had a great season to tie for the second-best record in baseball, it is hard to match up with a rotation that includes David Price, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, the latter of which remains a threat based on pure stuff regardless of his regular-season numbers.

After dealing with various injuries all season, Baltimore could be in trouble. 

In the other series, the Angels will try to continue their outstanding season and cap the year off with a deep run in the playoffs. 

Behind MVP-favorite Mike Trout, Los Angeles leads the majors in runs scored with a lineup that seemingly never gets easier for opposing pitchers.

While there are questions about whether the pitching staff can hold up, this team is good enough to have an advantage over any opponent it faces this postseason.

The Nationals have the same mindset with as complete of a roster as there is in the majors. Washington ranks first in the majors in team ERA, which also includes the best starter ERA in baseball and a bullpen that ranks fourth in the category. 

Meanwhile, the lineup does not have many holes with hitters who can make an impact from the top to bottom. Rookie manager Matt Williams brings it all together, as explained by first baseman Adam LaRoche to Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post:

It’s hard to say when you’re in the middle of it, but he was huge. He had a great combination of knowing when to get fired up and keeping that mentality of when he was a player, and knowing when to come in and drop a joke and knowing when somebody needed a break and when to lighten the mood. He’s been huge for us. He had the respect of the guys in spring training because of what he did as a player, and I think he’s earned the respect as a manager and leader of this team. That says a lot.

No matter who earns the wild-card spot between the Pirates and Giants, the Nationals should have an advantage in the first series.

This leaves the battle between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers, which could end up being the best series in the playoffs.

Andy Banker of Fox 2 notes how consistent the Cardinals have been for more than a decade:

However, the Dodgers have one of the best offenses in baseball and Clayton Kershaw capable of shutting down any opponent. The more he pitches, the better chance Los Angeles has of making a deep run in the playoffs. 

 

Remaining Rounds

 

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A’s vs. Royals: Date, Time, TV Info, Live Stream, AL Wild Card Game Preview

The Wild Card Game takes a 162-game season and boils it down to just one, and the Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals will be playing for their lives in an exciting battle.

It has been a long time since the Royals have been involved in a game of this magnitude, as noted by Sean Leahy of the Boston Globe:

The Athletics have a lot more experience, but they have lost in the American League Division Series in each of the past two years. Either way, the past does not matter as much as coming through in the big moments of the one-game series.

Although no one wants to play the Los Angeles Angels, both teams would rather face that tough task over going home. With that in mind, here is a look at what to expect in the American League Wild Card Game.

When: Tuesday, Sept. 30

Time: 8:07 p.m. ET

Where: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri

TV: TBS

Live Stream: Watch TBS, MLB.tv (subscription only)

 

Pitching Matchup: Jon Lester (Athletics) vs. James Shields (Royals)

With the season on the line, both teams will turn to their best big-game pitcher.

Although the Royals have few players with playoff experience, James Shields provides that thanks to his time with the Tampa Bay Rays. He has made six starts in the postseason, including a World Series game, which he won in 2008.

Unfortunately, he has struggled in his past two appearances, allowing 11 runs in two starts over 9.1 innings.

Still, manager Ned Yost was willing to use his ace on short rest if the team needed to play a tiebreaking game for the division. Shields was not scared about the prospect either, saying, "This is what it’s all about. This is what playoff baseball is all about. You’ve got to push aside some of your aches and pains and go after it," via Andy McCullough of The Kansas City Star.

He will get his extra rest, but fans have to like to see a motivated player ready to compete in the biggest game of the season.

Of course, he will have to come through against a pitcher who has been lights out all season. Jon Lester finished the year ranked fourth in the American League with a 2.46 ERA. He has surprisingly been even better since coming to Oakland from the Boston Red Sox, totaling a 2.35 ERA and six wins in 11 starts.

Meanwhile, this situation was exactly why the Athletics traded for the ace earlier in the year, as Marc Carig of Newsday argues:

Lester was outstanding in his postseason career with Boston, amassing a 2.11 ERA in 13 appearances to help him bring home two World Series titles. Only once in 11 starts has he allowed more than three runs in a game.

He should feel confident in coming through for his new team as well.

As if this was not enough intrigue in the pitching battle, though, each of these pitchers is also an impending free agent. Matthew Pouliot of Rotoworld.com jokes about the impact this game will have:

You can be certain both veterans will be at their best on Tuesday.

 

Prediction

The big difference between these two teams is the ability to change games with the long ball. While guys like Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas can hit a home run from time to time, the Royals as a team finished last in the majors in home runs this season (95).

While the team was able to make up for it with a .263 team batting average that ranked fourth in the majors, Oakland still scored 78 more runs this season thanks to home runs.

Even after trading Yoenis Cespedes at the deadline, the middle of the lineup is scary with Brandon Moss and Josh Donaldson capable of going yard at any time.

With both pitchers unlikely to give up many baserunners, it will likely take a big hit or two to get onto the scoreboard. Oakland will have an easier time getting runs in and Lester will take care of the rest in a competitive game.

The Athletics will earn the win and advance to take on the division-rival Angels in the next round.

Predicted score: Athletics 5, Royals 2

 

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Ryan Braun Injury: Updates on Brewers Star’s Thumb Surgery and Recovery

Ryan Braun will attempt to fix a thumb injury that has limited him for most of the 2014 season.

According to The Associated Press (via ESPN), the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder will undergo surgery to correct the problem:

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is scheduled to have surgery this week to fix a nagging nerve problem near his right thumb. [...]

Braun said Sunday the rare procedure involved going into the thumb and freezing the nerve. The problem, which carried over from the 2013 season, affected his swing.

Braun noted this issue was a big reason for his struggles this season, via Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

I feel like if I was anywhere close to healthy, if I'm at 80-90% and do anywhere near what I expect myself, we'd be in a different position as a team. I don't want this to be something that people think I'm using as an excuse. I have not had a good year; I have not played well. I have not done things that I expect of myself and the standard that I've set for playing this game over the first seven years of my career.

The former National League MVP had one of the worst seasons of his career, hitting just 19 home runs with 81 RBI in 134 games. His .268 batting average was a career low while his .780 OPS was over 100 points below his career average.

Meanwhile, the Brewers suffered as well, finishing 82-80 and out of the playoffs after a miserable final month of the season.

Milwaukee and Braun will certainly hope this surgery is successful and Braun can get back to reaching his potential.

 

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MLB Playoff Schedule 2014: Key Dates for Divisional Series Matchups

No matter which teams are playing in the American League and National League Division Series, all four matchups are certain to be entertaining.

The Los Angeles Angels and Washington Nationals have clinched home-field advantage in their respective leagues, but that does not always guarantee success at this level. With plenty of talented teams ready to challenge for a World Series title, anything can happen over the next few weeks.

Fortunately, fans will get to enjoy every step of the way in a round that can see great seasons come to an end in just three games. 

Here is a look at the NLDS and ALDS schedules, with times to be determined at a later date. You can view the complete schedule at MLB.com.

 

Top Teams to Watch

Los Angeles Angels

The team with the best record in baseball is a clear favorite to take home the World Series crown, especially with a lineup that is simply terrifying for opposing pitchers.

Mike Trout is actually having a down year based on the numbers he has provided in his first few seasons in the majors, but he should still win the AL MVP award, as Jon Morosi of Fox Sports pointed out:

Meanwhile, Albert Pujols is back to his dominant self, as he reached 100 RBI for the 12th time in his 14-year career (he totaled 99 in one of those other seasons).

The squad doesn't lead the majors in batting average or home runs, but it does well enough at each to lead the majors in runs scored throughout an impressive season. Although the pitching staff has been a bit inconsistent, the offensive production should be enough to help this team make a deep run in the playoffs.

 

Washington Nationals

The Nationals got off to a bit of a slow start this season but are peaking at the right time. Richard Justice of MLB.com provides a look at how well the team has played in all phases as of late:

Of course, the strength of the team is the rotation, which features five members who could potentially be aces on other teams around the league. The pitching has been so good that manager Matt Williams does not know what he will do when the rotation drops to four for the playoffs.

According to James Wagner of The Washington Post, Williams recently explained:

When they go out there, they compete.

It makes for tough decisions but those are good, tough decisions. You would not want that decision made for you this time of year. You want to be able to say, ‘Boy this is a hard one.’ That’s a good thing for us. They’re all pitching really well.

It seems you really cannot go wrong with Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Doug Fister and Tanner Roark.

With a lineup that can light up the scoreboard with the long ball, this team will be tough to beat.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers

With the New York Yankees watching from home, the Dodgers will have the highest team salary in the playoffs. This has helped create one of the most balanced teams in the majors.

Los Angeles ranks third in the majors in batting average thanks to seven different players with at least 25 at-bats hitting above .280. One person who does not have this high of a batting average, Adrian Gonzalez, makes up for it with his ability to hit it out of the park at any moment.

However, the team's best weapon is undoubtedly Clayton Kershaw, who has cemented himself as the best pitcher in baseball. Adnan Virk of ESPN noted that the player has accomplished something no one has done in a long time:

The Dodgers should be favored against anyone in games when Kershaw is on the mound, which could make a serious difference, especially in early rounds.

 

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Matt Holliday Injury: Updates on Cardinals Star’s Illness and Return

Updates from Sunday, Sept. 28

The St. Louis Cardinals confirmed that Matt Holiday is returning to the lineup for the regular season finale:

 

Original Text

The St. Louis Cardinals are looking to go into the playoffs as healthy as possible, but this could be a problem with Matt Holliday coming out of Saturday's game early.

Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com noted the roster move in the team's matchup against the Arizona Diamondbacks:

The team's official Twitter account later reported the problem: 

Considering he was able to play six innings before coming out, it does not seem like this situation will be too serious. Instead, this is likely a precautionary measure to make sure he is healthy before the start of the postseason.

Holliday has been one of the Cardinals' top hitters this season, drilling 20 home runs and a team-high 90 RBI. Although his .272 batting average will likely end up being a career low for the veteran, he is still a key member of a lineup that has been inconsistent in 2014.

The outfielder hit four home runs last postseason and will need to come through again if St. Louis plans on making another run to the World Series.

If he is forced to miss time, the Cardinals will likely continue to put Peter Bourjos in center field and Jon Jay in left field, where he has played 20 games this season.

 

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Joe Girardi Reportedly Blasted Yankees Players in Home Finale Pregame Speech

Derek Jeter might have given the New York Yankees a memorable moment with a walk-off single in his last-ever home game, but manager Joe Girardi is still not happy about the season.

While the rest of the baseball world was focused on the tribute to the future Hall of Fame shortstop, Girardi kicked off Thursday night's home finale with an angry tirade at the team after a disappointing year.

Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York reported news of the team-only speech:

According to clubhouse sources who were present for the critique, and backed up by interviews with more than a half-dozen players, most of whom spoke to ESPNNewYork.com off the record for fear of angering their manager, Girardi chided some players for being overweight and others for not being "hungry" enough.

One source described Girardi as "angry," and said he even took a brief timeout to allow the players, led by CC Sabathia, to present Jeter with the original painting of The New Yorker's Sept. 8 cover depicting the shortstop waving goodbye, and an expensive watch, before returning to Part Two of his tirade.

The manager did not deny the event when asked about it, explaining:

I addressed the team just to let them know what I expected of them next year. I think that obviously there's a lot of disappointment when you don't make the playoffs. And the expectation is, the reason you play the game, is to make the playoffs and win the World Series. We need to get better, and I let them know that.

I felt we had chances to make it and we just didn't execute. I told them we had work to do to get better.

While his emotional speech might have taken some of the luster away from Jeter early on, Girardi does have a lot to complain about after another miserable season. With two games remaining, the Yankees accumulated an 83-77 record. One more loss would mark the team's worst winning percentage since 1992.

Additionally, this is the second year in a row the Yankees have missed the playoffs. It's just the third time since 1995 the squad has not been part of the postseason.

Although Girardi led this team to a World Series title in 2009, things have not gone the way he had hoped lately, and it would not be surprising to see him on the hot seat next season.

There is clearly a lot of talent on the roster, with the highest payroll in baseball, but Girardi will hope to see more production out of this group in the future.

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Joe Girardi Reportedly Blasted Yankees Players in Home Finale Pregame Speech

Derek Jeter might have given the New York Yankees a memorable moment with a walk-off single in his last ever home game, but manager Joe Girardi is still not happy about the season.

While the rest of the baseball world was focused on the tribute to the future Hall of Fame shortstop, Girardi kicked off Thursday night's home finale with an angry tirade at the team after a disappointing year.

Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York reported news of the team-only speech:

According to clubhouse sources who were present for the critique, and backed up by interviews with more than a half-dozen players, most of whom spoke to ESPNNewYork.com off the record for fear of angering their manager, Girardi chided some players for being overweight and others for not being "hungry" enough.

One source described Girardi as "angry," and said he even took a brief timeout to allow the players, led by CC Sabathia, to present Jeter with the original painting of The New Yorker's Sept. 8 cover depicting the shortstop waving goodbye, and an expensive watch, before returning to Part Two of his tirade.

The manager did not deny the event when asked about it, explaining:

I addressed the team just to let them know what I expected of them next year. I think that obviously there's a lot of disappointment when you don't make the playoffs. And the expectation is, the reason you play the game, is to make the playoffs and win the World Series. We need to get better, and I let them know that.

I felt we had chances to make it and we just didn't execute. I told them we had work to do to get better.

While his emotional speech might have taken some of the luster away from Jeter early on, Girardi does have a lot to complain about after another miserable season. With two games remaining, the Yankees accumulated an 83-77 record. One more loss would mark the team's worst winning percentage since 1992.

Additionally, this is the second year in a row the Yankees have missed the playoffs. It's just the third time since 1995 the squad has not been part of the postseason.

Although Girardi led this team to a World Series title in 2009, things have not gone the way he has hoped lately, and it would not be surprising to see him on the hot seat next season.

There is clearly a lot of talent on the roster with the highest payroll in baseball, but Girardi will hope to see more production out of this group in the future.

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Albert Pujols Injury: Updates on Angels Star’s Hamstring and Return

Updates from Tuesday, Sept. 16

Angels communication director Eric Kay confirms Albert Pujols' status for tonight's game vs. the Mariners: 

 

Original Text 

Everything has been going right for the Los Angeles Angels lately, but they could have a problem on their hands with an injury to Albert Pujols.

Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports provides the latest on the veteran first baseman:

This injury was later confirmed by the team's official Twitter account:

After the Angels 8-1 win over the Mariners, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register provided an update: 

The double was Pujols' 36th of the season while bringing his RBI total to 97 on the year. He also has 26 home runs to go with a .274 batting average. While the three-time MVP has clearly had better seasons, he has bounced back nicely from a subpar 2013.

Unfortunately, this injury can be a setback if it ends up being serious. Hamstring injuries are difficult to judge and can sometimes keep a player out for weeks.

He was removed for a pinch runner (Tony Campana) against the Seattle Mariners on Monday. Efren Navarro was moved to first base and will likely take over the bulk of playing time if Pujols is unable to play.

With the best record in the majors and a 10-game lead in the AL West, the Angels can afford to be cautious for the rest of the regular season. However, they'll certainly need Pujols in the playoffs and hope he can return as soon as possible.

 

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Bryce Harper Injury: Updates on Nationals Star’s Illness and Return

Updates from Tuesday, Sept. 16

Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reported on Bryce Harper's return to the Nationals' lineup:

James Wagner of the Washington Post reveals what was ailing Harper during yesterday's game:

 

Original Text

With the Washington Nationals likely heading to the playoffs, the last thing they want to see is injuries to key players. Unfortunately, Bryce Harper was removed from Monday's game against the Atlanta Braves.

The team announced the issue on its Twitter account:

Mark Zuckerman of CSN noted there was no obvious injury that occurred during the game:

After the Nationals 4-2 win, Zuckerman provided an update on Harper:

The illness that plagued Adam LaRoche, Anthony Rendon and others on the Nationals’ roster the last two weeks apparently has now taken down Bryce Harper as well.

(...)

"He just came in and said: ‘I’m not feeling real good,'” manager Matt Williams said following a 4-2 win that leaves the Nationals one win from clinching the NL East title. “At this point in the season, we’re certainly not pushing that. And with the history of that we’ve had over the last few days with everybody else, we understand that if he gets it, it’s not real fun. So we wanted to get him out of there.”

Harper was batting .270 with 13 home runs and 32 RBI for the Nationals coming into the day, but he has been much better since the All-Star break with a .286 average and 11 home runs. He missed about two months of play earlier in the year with a thumb injury.

The Nationals need this type of production in the lineup, especially against a division rival as they look to clinch the National League East.

Nate Schierholtz replaced Harper in left field after the 21-year-old player was removed.

 

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Jacob deGrom Ties MLB Record by Striking out 8 Straight Batters vs. Marlins

New York Mets rookie pitcher Jacob deGrom had himself quite a start to his game against the Miami Marlins Monday night.    

While the team is playing for little at this point of the year, the 26-year-old pitcher had a record-setting performance in Monday's start, according to ESPN Stats & Info:

After striking out eight batters in a row to start the game, it was the opposing pitcher who finally ended the streak and the perfect game, as Kevin Burkhardt of Fox points out:

The good news is he was able to recover and keep up his strong showing through the first half of the game:

He ended up finishing with 13 strikeouts in seven innings while allowing three runs. He was in position to earn the win after the seventh inning, but the bullpen could not hold on for a win.

The right-handed deGrom was coming off the best start of his career with eight shutout innings and nine strikeouts against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday. For the season, he had an 8-6 record with a 2.62 ERA and 121 strikeouts in 20 starts coming into the day.

Anthony DiComo of MLB.com notes what this performance can mean for the individual awards at the end of the year:

With his overall numbers and his ability to close the year strong, it is hard to argue against deGrom at least being a top candidate for the National League Rookie of the Year award. Billy Hamilton of the Cincinnati Reds is likely his top competition after topping 50 stolen bases in his first full season in the majors.

No matter what, it seems clear deGrom is going to be a big part of the Mets' rotation in the future. When Matt Harvey returns from his Tommy John surgery, this could be a scary tandem going forward.

 

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Ryan Braun Injury: Updates on Brewers Star’s Hand and Return

Updates from Saturday, Sept. 6

Tom Haudricourt of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports Braun will unexpectedly be in the Brewers' lineup:

Adam McCalvy of MLB.com provides the full lineup:

 

Original Text:

A hand injury will once again keep Ryan Braun out of the Milwaukee Brewers lineup.

Adam McCalvy of MLB.com provided the latest info on the former MVP:

Braun missed two games earlier in the week with the same issue but returned Friday to go 1-for-4 in the team's first win in 10 games.

With the squad desperately trying to hold onto the second Wild Card spot in the National League as well as potentially catching the St. Louis Cardinals for a division title, the Brewers need one of their top hitters at full strength. 

After missing the second half of last season due to suspension, Braun has had an up-and-down year in 2014. He is currently hitting .275 with 18 home runs and a team-leading 77 RBI. While this is certainly a drop in production from what he showed a few years ago, the Brewers will still hope he is able to return to action as soon as possible.

 

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