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Sox ride Eovaldi's gem, JBJ's slam to ALCS lead

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

HOUSTON -- The most legendary flame-thrower from Alvin, Texas -- or perhaps anywhere -- was sitting in the front row of the stands behind home plate, a direct line from the pitcher's mound.

But the man on the mound for the Red Sox was the most impactful Alvin native during Tuesday's Game 3 of the American League Championship Series. With Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan looking on, Nathan Eovaldi pumped in fastballs between 95.5 and 101 mph as the Sox took an 8-2 victory and a 2-1 lead in this best-of-seven series.

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HOUSTON -- The most legendary flame-thrower from Alvin, Texas -- or perhaps anywhere -- was sitting in the front row of the stands behind home plate, a direct line from the pitcher's mound.

But the man on the mound for the Red Sox was the most impactful Alvin native during Tuesday's Game 3 of the American League Championship Series. With Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan looking on, Nathan Eovaldi pumped in fastballs between 95.5 and 101 mph as the Sox took an 8-2 victory and a 2-1 lead in this best-of-seven series.

View Full Game Coverage

ALCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 4: Wednesday, 8:39 p.m. ET on TBS

The biggest hit that solidified the win for Eovaldi was a grand slam to right by Jackie Bradley Jr. with two outs in the top of the eighth against Astros closer Roberto Osuna.

Video: ALCS Gm3: Bradley Jr. launches a grand slam

It had been a tight game throughout the first seven innings, but the Astros helped Boston extend its lead when Osuna hit pinch-hitters Brock Holt and Mitch Moreland back-to-back to load them up for Bradley, who mashed the sixth grand slam in postseason history for the Red Sox. It was the first postseason slam in MLB history for a non-pitcher or pinch-hitter in the ninth slot in the batting order.

Before the game turned into a rout, Eovaldi was nails. The righty went six innings while scattering six hits and two runs. He walked two and struck out four, following up with a strong encore to his tremendous outing at Yankee Stadium in Game 3 of the AL Division Series. Of his 92 pitches, 60 were for strikes.

While Bradley's knock was the biggest of the game, Steve Pearce also came up clutch, launching a towering homer to lead off the top of the sixth, breaking a 2-2 tie. It was Pearce's first career postseason homer.

After losing Game 1 at Fenway, the Red Sox have responded and regained home-field advantage in this clash of titans between the two winningest teams in the Majors this season. In the history of best-of-seven series with the 2-3-2 format, teams that win Game 3 on the road to grab a 2-1 advantage have gone on to take the series 27 of 36 times (75 percent).

<Video: ALCS Gm3: Pearce crushes a solo shot to left field

Unlike the last time Eovaldi pitched in Houston, back on June 20 when he allowed three consecutive homers while with the Rays, he held the defending World Series champion Astros in check in this one.

Just like in Game 2, the Red Sox got out to a fast start. And again, it was Mookie Betts setting the tone with a leadoff single. Andrew Benintendi followed with a single to left. J.D. Martinez then broke his 0-for-7 ALCS drought by lacing an RBI double down the line in right. Xander Bogaerts made it 2-0 with a fielder's-choice grounder to short.

Video: ALCS Gm3: Martinez, Bogaerts lead Sox to 2-run 1st

The Astros responded in their half of the first when Marwin Gonzalez laced an RBI single to right to make it a one-run game.

Video: ALCS Gm3: Gonzalez flares an RBI single into right

Eovaldi settled down nicely in the middle innings, but Jose Altuve got a key two-out walk in the fifth. Alex Bregman stepped up next and smashed a double under the glove of third baseman Rafael Devers to tie the game at 2.

Video: ALCS Gm3: Bregman hits an RBI double to left

After that, the momentum went to Boston and stayed there.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Nathan Eovaldi, Jackie Bradley Jr., J.D. Martinez, Steve Pearce

JBJ slam, Pearce 1st postseason HR seal G3

MLB.com @feinsand

HOUSTON -- Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a grand slam in the eighth inning, after Steve Pearce's first career postseason home run gave the Red Sox the lead in the sixth, lifting Boston to an 8-2 win and a 2-1 advantage in the American League Championship Series against the Astros on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park.

ALCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 4: Wednesday, 8:39 p.m. ET on TBS

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HOUSTON -- Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a grand slam in the eighth inning, after Steve Pearce's first career postseason home run gave the Red Sox the lead in the sixth, lifting Boston to an 8-2 win and a 2-1 advantage in the American League Championship Series against the Astros on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park.

ALCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 4: Wednesday, 8:39 p.m. ET on TBS

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With runners on first and second, Astros closer Roberto Osuna hit back-to-back batters, the second of which gave Boston a 4-2 lead. That set up Bradley's slam, which is the sixth one in Red Sox postseason history.

Before Bradley's homer, Pearce drilled a Joe Smith fastball into the seats over the high wall in left field in the sixth inning, his majestic blast putting the Red Sox back on top of the Astros, 3-2.

Video: ALCS Gm3: Pearce crushes a solo shot to left on TBS

Alex Bregman had tied the game in the bottom of the fifth with a double off the glove of third baseman Rafael Devers, sending the packed house at Minute Maid Park into a frenzy. With one swing eight pitches later, Pearce quieted the fans down and re-energized the Red Sox's dugout.

Video: ALCS Gm3: Bregman hits an RBI double to left on TBS

Pearce's homer came off the bat at 107 mph, the second straight at-bat in which he scorched a ball in the triple-digit range for exit velocity. His deep fly to left field in the third measured 101.1 mph, but Kemp made a leaping catch at the wall, taking away at least one Boston run and possibly two.

Video: ALCS Gm3: Kemp makes a fantastic jumping grab on TBS

The Red Sox had jumped out to a quick lead in the first inning, pouncing on Dallas Keuchel just as opponents had done all season.

Mookie Betts opened the game with a single to center, then Andrew Benintendi singled to left field, putting runners at first and second.

J.D. Martinez, who was 0-for-7 in the first two games of the series, followed with a double to right field, scoring Betts for a 1-0 lead. With runners at second and third and nobody out, the Astros' bullpen began to stir in case Keuchel required an early hook.

Video: ALCS Gm3: Martinez rips an RBI double to left on TBS

Keuchel, who had a 6.88 ERA in the first inning this season, finally recorded the first out of the game on Xander Bogaerts' groundout to shortstop, though Benintendi scored on the play to make it 2-0 in Boston's favor.

Pearce was unable to get Martinez home from third with his ground ball to second, though at 98.9 mph off the bat, he certainly gave it his best shot. Eduardo Nunez hit a hard liner to second, where Marwin Gonzalez -- starting in place of Jose Altuve, who served as Houston's designated hitter -- caught it to end the inning.

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.

Boston Red Sox, Jackie Bradley Jr., J.D. Martinez, Steve Pearce

Nunez replaced by Devers after infield single

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

HOUSTON -- After Red Sox third baseman Eduardo Nunez legged out an infield single in the top of the fourth inning of the Red Sox's 8-2 win over the Astros in Tuesday's Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, Rafael Devers came on to pinch-run for him.

ALCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 4: Wednesday, 8:39 p.m. ET on TBS

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HOUSTON -- After Red Sox third baseman Eduardo Nunez legged out an infield single in the top of the fourth inning of the Red Sox's 8-2 win over the Astros in Tuesday's Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, Rafael Devers came on to pinch-run for him.

ALCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 4: Wednesday, 8:39 p.m. ET on TBS

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Nunez grimaced as he sprinted down the line at a speed of 29.6 feet per second, according to Statcast™, which was actually well above his season average of 27.5.

In the bottom of the first, Nunez face-planted while chasing a foul ball. And when he made a misplay later in the inning on a grounder by Yuli Gurriel that should have been a double play and was instead just a force at second, Nunez appeared to stumble just before he fielded the ball.

In the bottom of the fifth, with the Red Sox leading, 2-1, and Jose Altuve on first following a walk, Devers was unable to corral Alex Bregman's shot down the third-base line, and it went for a game-tying RBI double.

Video: ALCS Gm3: Bregman hits an RBI double to left on TBS

Nunez has had a barrage of leg injuries the last two seasons, and he had issues with both legs late in the regular season.

In Game 1 of the 2017 AL Division Series against the Astros, Nunez stumbled running to first in his first at-bat and had to be removed from the roster with a right knee injury.

Video: BOS@HOU Gm 1: Nunez injures knee, carried off field

Tuesday's ailment didn't look as serious.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Rafael Devers, Eduardo Nunez

Brewers-Dodgers G4: Schoop, Dozier in at 2B

LA looks to even series behind Hill as Crew sends out Gio
MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- The Brewers will be looking to take a commanding lead and the Dodgers will be looking to even the best-of-seven National League Championship Series in Game 4 tonight at Dodger Stadium.

Lefties Gio Gonzalez of the Brewers and Rich Hill of the Dodgers will start. The Dodgers look for Hill to get through the lineup at least twice, while Gonzalez faced only eight batters in Game 1, allowing a second-inning home run to Manny Machado before turning it over to the Milwaukee bullpen.

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LOS ANGELES -- The Brewers will be looking to take a commanding lead and the Dodgers will be looking to even the best-of-seven National League Championship Series in Game 4 tonight at Dodger Stadium.

Lefties Gio Gonzalez of the Brewers and Rich Hill of the Dodgers will start. The Dodgers look for Hill to get through the lineup at least twice, while Gonzalez faced only eight batters in Game 1, allowing a second-inning home run to Manny Machado before turning it over to the Milwaukee bullpen.

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Brewers wipeout reliever Josh Hader faced only two batters in Game 3 -- striking out David Freese and Matt Kemp -- and should be available for an appearance in Game 4 or 5, if not both.

:: NLCS schedule and results ::

Starting lineups
Brewers: With a lefty on the mound for the Dodgers for the third time in the series, the Brewers went with Jonathan Schoop at second base over Hernan Perez.

1. Lorenzo Cain, CF
2. Christian Yelich, RF
3. Ryan Braun, LF
4. Jesus Aguilar, 1B
5. Mike Moustakas, 3B
6. Jonathan Schoop, 2B
7. Manny Pina, C
8. Orlando Arcia, SS
9. Gio Gonzalez, P

Dodgers: Austin Barnes returns to the starting lineup behind the plate and Yasmani Grandal goes back to the bench after another rugged game for Grandal, who was charged with his third passed ball of the series and struck out three times in Game 3. Brian Dozier, who fanned with the bases loaded to end the game on Monday, will get his first start of the 2018 postseason.

1. Chris Taylor, LF
2. Justin Turner, 3B
3. David Freese, 1B
4. Manny Machado, SS
5. Brian Dozier, 2B
6. Enrique Hernandez, CF
7. Yasiel Puig, RF
8. Austin Barnes, C
9. Rich Hill, P

Postseason gear: Brewers | Dodgers

Who are the starting pitchers?
Brewers: Gonzalez (10-11, 4.21 ERA) gets his second start of the series, but this could end up being another bullpen day for the Brewers. Gonzalez started Game 1 on Friday, when he threw just 32 pitches over two innings before being lifted for Brandon Woodruff, who took over when the Dodgers' lineup turned over for the first time. Woodruff hasn't pitched since, so he'll be available to cover innings whether Gonzalez struggles or not. Gonzalez figures to be on a short leash either way, though it's possible Craig Counsell asks the lefty for more than last time with Hader not an option for three innings like he threw in Game 1.

Gonzalez allowed a solo homer to Machado and little else in his first appearance of the postseason. He went 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA across five starts after being acquired from the Nationals at the end of August.

Dodgers: Hill (11-5, 3.65 ERA) hustled down to the bullpen late Monday and would have pitched in relief if the game went extra innings. Instead, he'll start Game 4. He was 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in two starts against the Brewers this season and allowed one run in six innings the only time he faced them at Dodger Stadium in 2018. Hill is an intense competitor and lip readers will be entertained with his reaction to certain pitches and umpire calls.

Video: NLCS Gm4: Hill on preparing for the Brewers' offense

How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Brewers: The Brewers are in good shape despite using Corey Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress for the sixth time in as many postseason games, and deploying Hader in Game 3 after he was off-limits for Game 2. None of those pitchers threw more than Jeffress' 21 pitches, and Knebel was able to log five outs on only 19 pitches. That sets up those workhorses well for Games 4 and 5.

"We're not just trying to win games here, we're trying to win the series," Counsell said. "We've put ourselves in Games 4 and 5 with tonight's effort."

Video: NLCS Gm3: Counsell on Chacin, bullpen and Arcia

Dodgers: With Walker Buehler throwing seven innings in Game 3, the back end of the Dodgers' bullpen -- Kenley Jansen, Kenta Maeda, Pedro Baez, Caleb Ferguson -- is well rested. Only Alex Wood and Dylan Floro were used Monday night, for one inning each.

Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
Brewers: The pressing question is Hader, whom the Brewers were extremely hesitant to pitch on back-to-back days during the regular season. He did so just five times, the last being Aug. 29-30, when Hader rebounded from a season-worst four-run outing to record an extra-inning save against the Reds. Counsell used Hader for two outs in Game 3, when he needed just eight pitches to strike out both batters he faced.

"You know, we'll always check on it and see how he feels and everything, but obviously the part of taking him out of the game [after two batters] was to have him available for Games 4 and 5 if we need him," Counsell said.

Video: NLCS Gm3: Hader K's Freese, Kemp to close out the 8th

Said Hader: "We'll see what 'Couns' decides, but I'm ready to go."

Dodgers: No.

Any injuries of note?
Brewers: No.

Dodgers: No.

Who is hot and who is not?
Brewers: With his two-run homer in the seventh inning, Arcia has hit as many postseason home runs (three) as he hit in the entirety of a regular season that included two demotions to the Minor Leagues to work on his hitting. He's homered in two straight games. More >>

Video: NLCS Gm3: Arcia cranks 2-run HR in 7th to pad lead

Shaw also stayed productive with a triple that gave the Brewers their second run on Monday thanks to a wild pitch. Two of Shaw's three NLCS hits have gone for extra bases.

Dodgers: Machado had two of the team's five hits in Game 3 and is batting .455 in the series. Grandal will be replaced behind the plate by Barnes, who had a single and bases-loaded walk on Saturday.

Anything else fans might want to know?
Teams that take a 2-1 lead in the NLCS have a 19-7 series record all time.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Gio Gonzalez, Rich Hill

Mookie Betts and Justin Verlander were awestruck by Tony Kemp's incredible leaping catch in Game 3

Astros outfielder/second baseman Tony Kemp stands at 5-foot-6 -- the same listed height as Jose Altuve -- but just like his teammate, Kemp stands tall when the moment strikes. 

That moment came in the third inning of Tuesday's ALCS Game 3 at Minute Maid Park. With two on and two out, Boston's Steve Pearce lofted a fly ball toward the Crawford Boxes in left field. Breaths were held as Kemp raced back and leapt up into the air, extending every inch of his frame and coming down with the ball. It was a great, run-saving catch that was confirmed after a replay review.

Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, seated behind home plate, didn't flinch on a Brian McCann foul tip

Game 3 of the ALCS brought some famous baseball faces in the stands with Jeff Bagwell, Nolan Ryan and Craig Biggio enjoying the game on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park. Biggio, of course, spent 20 years in an Astros uniform and with a quick foul tip, it appeared he could still possibly handle game situations.

Bullpen's stumble puts Astros in 2-1 ALCS hole

MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- A bullpen that was supposed to be a strength faltered badly. An offense which had been so potent at home in the playoffs the last two years scuffled. And now the Astros find themselves two losses away from elimination.

ALCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 4: Wednesday, 8:39 p.m. ET/7:39 CT on TBS

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HOUSTON -- A bullpen that was supposed to be a strength faltered badly. An offense which had been so potent at home in the playoffs the last two years scuffled. And now the Astros find themselves two losses away from elimination.

ALCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 4: Wednesday, 8:39 p.m. ET/7:39 CT on TBS

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The Red Sox wrestled control of the American League Championship Series away from the defending champs, getting a tiebreaking homer from Steve Pearce in the sixth inning and a grand slam in the eighth from Jackie Bradley Jr. to thump the Astros, 8-2, in Game 3 on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park.

Boston leads the best-of-seven series, 2-1, heading into Game 4 on Wednesday in Houston. In the history of best-of-seven series with the 2-3-2 format, teams that win Game 3 on the road to grab a 2-1 advantage have gone on to take the series 27 of 36 times (75 percent).

Video: ALCS Gm3: Bradley Jr. launches a grand slam on TBS

Pearce, who played 21 games for the rebuilding Astros in 2012 before going on to play for every team in the AL East, clocked a 1-0 pitch from Astros reliever Joe Smith in the sixth and sailed it high over the left-field wall for a one-out homer to break a 2-2 tie. Smith was appearing in a game for the first time since Sept. 29, a span of 17 days.

Things went from bad to worse for the Astros in the eighth, when closer Roberto Osuna allowed five runs while recording just two outs. He hit Mitch Moreland with a pitch with the bases loaded to force in a run, and Bradley -- whose three-run double with the bases loaded gave the Red Sox the lead for good in Game 2 -- provided the exclamation point with a grand slam to right for an 8-2 lead.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Houston Astros, Dallas Keuchel, Roberto Osuna, Joe Smith

That's not fair: Eovaldi deals 96-mph cutter

On Monday, third baseman Alex Bregman posted video on Instagram of his Astros hitting back-to-back-to-back home runs off Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi when he was with the Rays during the regular season. At the time, Eovaldi said he was not bothered by the video.

In the first inning of Tuesday's ALCS Game 3, Eovaldi offered a response to Bregman's post in the form of an unhittable cutter to George Springer:

Machado: Hustling is 'not my cup of tea'

MLB.com @_dadler

Whether the Dodgers can make it back to the World Series for a second straight season, and whether they can flip last year's script and win it, will depend heavily on Manny Machado.

For Machado personally, this postseason could also have longer-term implications -- it's one last big showcase before the superstar shortstop hits free agency this winter, with the chance to command a massive deal as one of the two marquee names on the market, along with Bryce Harper.

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Whether the Dodgers can make it back to the World Series for a second straight season, and whether they can flip last year's script and win it, will depend heavily on Manny Machado.

For Machado personally, this postseason could also have longer-term implications -- it's one last big showcase before the superstar shortstop hits free agency this winter, with the chance to command a massive deal as one of the two marquee names on the market, along with Bryce Harper.

View Full Game Coverage

Through three games of the National League Championship Series, Machado has played like a star. After a brief slow-ish start to the playoffs (which still included the decisive two-run homer in the Dodgers' Game 2 Division Series win over the Braves), Machado has posted three multihit efforts and a pair of home runs in his past four games. In the NLCS, Machado is 5-for-11 with a homer and a double.

:: NLCS schedule and results ::

But his effort came into question after he didn't hustle on a groundout to shortstop in the fourth inning of Game 2. And in an interview with Ken Rosenthal for FS1, which will air prior to Game 4 tonight, Machado acknowledged that he had no excuse for not running hard, but also said that he isn't going to change the way he plays the game.

"Obviously I'm not going to change, I'm not the type of player that's going to be 'Johnny Hustle,' and run down the line and slide to first base and … you know, whatever can happen," Machado said in the interview, which was published in The Athletic. "That's just not my personality, that's not my cup of tea, that's not who I am.

"Should I have run on that pitch? Yeah … but I didn't and I gotta pay the consequences for it. It does look bad. It looks terrible. I look back at the video and I'm like, 'Whoa, what was I doing?'"

Before Game 4, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was jokingly asked about Machado's comments, particularly the last one.

"My cup of tea? A win tonight would be my cup of tea," Roberts said.

Machado said that it's not because he's hurt, he just hasn't always run hard on those plays.

"I've been thinking about it, and it happens every time. There's no excuse for it, honestly," Machado told Rosenthal. "I've never given excuses for not running. I'm not hurt, there's no excuse. But I've been the same player … I've been doing this for [seven] years, I'm in The Show for [seven] years, I've done the same thing for [seven] years, I've been the same player."

Roberts said that for all Machado does well offensively and defensively -- and at times exceptionally -- sometimes you just pick your battles.

"There's no perfect player," Roberts said. "A guy that posts every inning is hard to come by these days. For me, the net, it's not even close."

Machado said that he takes the blame for the lack of effort, but that he hasn't been able to change since he got to the Majors -- although he said one day he might "figure it out."

Video: NLCS Gm2: Arcia makes long throw to retire Machado

"Before I even step out of the box, I look to the shortstop, he has the ball in his hands and I'm like, 'I'm out.' … I mean, what am I going to do?" Machado said.

"Should I have given it a little more effort? One hundred percent. [It's] my fault like always, I mean that's just my mentality when I'm in the game. [There are] things that you learn, things that you gotta change. I've tried changing it for eight years, and I still can't figure it out but, one of these days I will."

Video: NLCS Gm3: Brewers turn DP on Machado's illegal slide

Machado not running out every ground ball won't stop him from getting a blockbuster deal in free agency, and it may not cost the Dodgers significantly on the field, either. But it's drawn visibility on the postseason stage, as have a couple of questionable takeout slides into second base, including one that resulted in a double play in Game 3 due to a violation of MLB's slide rules.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Manny Machado

Rumors: Kluber, Paxton, MadBum, Grandal

The latest MLB free agent and trade rumors for Hot Stove season
MLB.com

As the postseason concludes, Hot Stove season begins. MLB.com is keeping track of all the latest free agent and trade rumors right here.

Kluber, Paxton, MadBum among SP trade candidates who could shake up offseason
Oct. 16: Last offseason, clubs had limited options when it came to free-agent starting pitchers, but the market was bolstered by the availability of Gerrit Cole, who was traded to the Astros and ended up being one of the best additions any team made over the past year.

As the postseason concludes, Hot Stove season begins. MLB.com is keeping track of all the latest free agent and trade rumors right here.

Kluber, Paxton, MadBum among SP trade candidates who could shake up offseason
Oct. 16: Last offseason, clubs had limited options when it came to free-agent starting pitchers, but the market was bolstered by the availability of Gerrit Cole, who was traded to the Astros and ended up being one of the best additions any team made over the past year.

In a story for the New York Post on Tuesday, MLB Network insider Joel Sherman shared a handful of names who could do the same for the market if they are made available this offseason, with the Indians' Corey Kluber, the Mariners' James Paxton and the Giants' Madison Bumgarner among them.

Based on contract escalators tied to his finishes in Cy Young Award voting, Kluber is expected to be owed $17 million for next season, with club options for 2020 and '21 that could be worth up to $17.5 million and $18 million, respectively.

Sherman argues the Indians would still be prohibitive favorites in a weak American League Central even if they traded Kluber, who will turn 33 years old in April and has struggled in each of the past two postseasons, as the club could use that money to address other needs on the roster.

As for Paxton, Sherman notes that the Mariners have few ways to significantly improve their situation, given their old, expensive core and poor farm system. Trading the big left-hander, who can become a free agent after the 2020 campaign and has never thrown more than 160 1/3 innings in a season, could be a way to address some of their needs.

Bumgarner, meanwhile, has a $12 million club option for 2019 and should draw significant trade interest despite showing signs of decline in '18. Per Sherman, it could make sense for the Giants to deal the left-hander now, as they are unlikely to be serious contenders in '19 and would be taking a major risk by signing him to an extension.

Also part of Sherman's list were the D-backs' Robbie Ray and the Cardinals' Carlos Martinez, who both dealt with injuries in '18 but have displayed ace potential in the past. Ray can become a free agent after 2020, while Martinez is controllable for five more seasons if his club options are picked up for '22 ($17 million) and '23 ($18 million).

Machado, Grandal on opposite tracks in postseason
Oct. 16: One run of postseason games might not outweigh the full body of work of the regular season, but it leaves an impression. And two of the Dodgers' key free-agents-to-be, Manny Machado and Yasmani Grandal, have been trending in opposite directions this October.

Machado, one of the two marquee names hitting the market this winter along with Bryce Harper, has been heating up. After a slow-ish start to the playoffs -- which still included the decisive two-run homer in the Dodgers' Game 2 NLDS win over the Braves -- the superstar shortstop has three multi-hit efforts and a pair of home runs in his last four games. In the NLCS, Machado is 5-for-11 with a homer and a double (although there have been questions about his hustle after he didn't run hard on a groundout in Game 2).

Grandal, on the other hand, has struggled offensively and behind the plate. He's hitting just .136 this postseason (3-for-22) with one homer. But Grandal's defense has been the most visible issue. He's had two nightmarish games in the NLCS, both of which have resulted in the Dodgers replacing him with Austin Barnes for the following game.

In Game 1, a one-run loss, Grandal had two errors and two passed balls -- becoming the first catcher in postseason history with multiple errors and multiple passed balls in the same game. Barnes then started Game 2. Grandal returned for Game 3, but had another tough night in another Dodgers loss. He couldn't block a wild pitch in the sixth inning, which brought home a run for the Brewers, and he had a passed ball in the eighth. After that, Barnes will start Tuesday's Game 4.

That's now two straight postseasons Grandal has lost playing time to Barnes. Last year, Barnes started 13 of the Dodgers' 15 playoff games at catcher, including all seven World Series games, compared to just two starts for Grandal.

Even after Grandal's impressive 2018 regular season -- he hit the second-most home runs among catchers (24) and the third-highest wRC+ (125, meaning he was 25 percent better than a league-average hitter) -- that's not what potential suitors want to see in October out of a free-agent target, especially one who could be an important signing at a critical position.

Braves enter winter with flexibility to address needs
Oct. 15: The Braves could be major players in free agency. The club will have considerable financial flexibility with at least $60 million to spend this winter, reported MLB.com's Mark Bowman. 

Atlanta enters the offseason with needs at catcher and in the outfield, bullpen and starting rotation. The Braves could go a number of directions once free agency opens, but they'll likely make another run at Marlins All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto and explore the trade market before any aggressive signings, per Bowman. They could also pursue D-backs pitcher Patrick Corbin, one of the top arms on the market.

Tweet from @mlbbowman: Today���s session with Anthopoulos confirmed the Braves will have plenty financial flexibility. Specifics weren���t revealed, but it appears they���ll have at least $60M to fill multiple needs: Catcher, OF, Bullpen depth, a SP, but only if Corbin or another frontline option makes sense

After being eliminated by the Dodgers in the National League Division Series, the Braves' first move of the offseason was signing manager Brian Snitker to a two-year contract Monday that includes an option for the 2021 season.

Giants could pursue Harper, but competition expected to be fierce
Oct. 15: Although Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, the two biggest names set to hit free agency this offseason, play different positions, the markets for both players will surely dovetail in some way.

For instance, the Giants are expected to be one of the suitors for Harper, and their pursuit could be indirectly affected by the Yankees, as John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out Saturday.

With the news that shortstop Didi Gregorius is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery, many now speculate that the Yankees will make a greater push for Machado.

If that happens, and New York comes away with Machado, it could in turn make the Dodgers -- Machado's current team -- more likely to make a serious push for Harper. That could be bad news for the Giants, as Los Angeles will likely be able to outbid San Francisco for Harper and is arguably a more attractive landing spot for the superstar outfielder.

Could Goldschmidt be a fit for Yankees?
Oct. 15: Facing a critical juncture this offseason after missing the playoffs in 2018, the D-backs are reportedly expected to listen to offers for a number of their top players, including Paul Goldschmidt.

• Complete list of free agents this offseason

The problem for Arizona, as ESPN's Buster Olney noted via Twitter, is that there aren't a lot of obvious fits for Goldschmidt, as many contenders are set at first base. However, Olney speculates that the Yankees could enter the mix for the six-time All-Star, who can become a free agent after the 2019 season.

Tweet from @Buster_ESPN: As has been reported, the D-Backs will listen to offers on their best players, including Paul Goldschmidt. Most contenders are locked in at 1B for 2019; the Cubs have Rizzo, for example. Total speculation: One team that could be a great fit for a Goldschmidt deal -- the Yankees.

Tweet from @Buster_ESPN: This is all speculation... To add: for Goldschmidt, hitting in Yankee Stadium as he went through his free-agent season, in the middle of a deep lineup, could be a great development for him, as well.

New York's current options at first base include in-season acquisition Luke Voit and Greg Bird, who hasn't been able to stay healthy or consistently produce during his big league tenure. The Yankees will need to decide if either player is a long-term answer.

Voit seemingly has the inside edge to earn a starting job in 2019, as he hit .322 with 15 homers in only 47 games with the club and became an everyday lineup fixture down the stretch. But Voit will be 28 on Opening Day, and he'll need to show that his 2018 performance was not a fluke.

Meanwhile, Goldschmidt remains one of the best hitters in baseball, recording a .290 average with 33 homers and a .922 OPS in 2018, and he could help the Yankees close the gap with the Red Sox and Astros in the American League.

Rockies facing big questions this offseason
Oct. 15: Before the Rockies make a bid for their third straight postseason appearance in 2019, they will need to answer a number of pressing questions about their roster this offseason, which Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post broke down Sunday.

Among those questions is what to do about impending free agents DJ LeMahieu, Carlos Gonzalez and Adam Ottavino. Saunders considers it unlikely that the Rockies will re-sign LeMahieu and Ottavino, and he speculates that the club could look to move on from Gonzalez as well, even though the outfielder has expressed interest in returning.

While that would give Colorado three big holes to address, it doesn't necessarily mean the club will look to the free-agent market for replacements, especially considering the mixed results the Rockies have gotten from recent signings such as Ian Desmond, Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee, a quartet that will take up a sizable portion of the payroll in 2019. The Rockies may also look to work on a contract extension with Nolan Arenado, who can become a free agent after next season.

As a result, greater importance will likely be placed on low-cost youngsters such as David Dahl, Ryan McMahon, Garrett Hampson, Brendan Rodgers and Raimel Tapia in 2019.

Does Gregorius' injury set stage for Machado to join Yankees?
Oct. 12: With Didi Gregorius set to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, the shortstop position is now an unexpected question mark for the Yankees.

The speculation, of course, is that Gregorius' injury may only increase the Yankees' interest in impending free agent Manny Machado, who was already expected to be on the club's offseason radar as a potential option at third base.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Could the didi news trigger yankees��� interest in Machado? MM has played a much better ss in LA, is believed interested in yankees.

Machado, a two-time Gold Glove Award winner at the hot corner, struggled defensively at shortstop with the Orioles this season (-18 defensive runs saved), but he has been much improved since joining the Dodgers in a July trade (6 DRS).

Machado's interest in joining the Yankees was documented back in August, when MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported for Fancred Sports that people close to the slugger were suggesting that the club was his first choice in free agency.

Gregorius has been worth 8.7 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) over the past two seasons, so the Yankees aren't going to be in a hurry to move on from him. But the shortstop can become a free agent next offseason, and signing Machado would give the Yankees extra leverage in contract negotiations with Gregorius, as well as insurance in case his recovery from Tommy John surgery doesn't go smoothly.

The Yankees could also sign Machado and then work out an extension with Gregorius to secure the left side of their infield into the next decade, but they would need to trade or find a new position for third baseman Miguel Andujar.

Kershaw could exercise opt-out clause
Oct. 12: Clayton Kershaw is expected to opt out of his contract with Los Angeles after this season and test the free-agent waters, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.

Kershaw, 30, has two years and just over $70 million remaining on a seven-year, $215 million contract he signed with the Dodgers prior to the 2014 season.

The '14 NL MVP Award winner and three-time NL Cy Young Award winner has dealt with lingering back issues the past three seasons and was limited to just 26 starts this year, so it is far from certain that the left-hander would be able to find a suitor for another longterm deal. However, he'd like be able to sign for more than the two years he has left on his current pact with the Dodgers.

Video: ARI@SD: Corbin goes scoreless in final start of 2018

Cashman: Yankees will try to trade Gray
Oct. 12: When the Yankees acquired Sonny Gray from the A's in July 2017, it wasn't just a short-term move. Gray is under team control through '19, and he was expected to be an important part of New York's rotation at least until the end of that season.

It hasn't worked out that way. After posting a 4.90 ERA over 30 appearances (23 starts) in 2018, Gray was left off the Yankees' American League Wild Card Game and ALDS rosters. And now, he may now be on his way out of town.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Friday that the club will try to trade Gray this offseason.

"It hasn't worked out thus far," Cashman said. "I think he's extremely talented. I think that we'll enter the winter, unfortunately, open-minded to a relocation. Probably, if he can maximize his abilities, it will more likely be best somewhere else. But then it comes down to the final decision of the price, in terms of trade acquisition and matching up with somebody. If we match up, then I think, yeah, it's probably best to try this somewhere else."

Although Gray's value is down, New York can sell the fact that the righty recorded a 3.17 ERA with a 1.16 WHIP and a 9.9 K/9 rate on the road (6.98 ERA, 1.90 WHIP, 6.8 K/9 rate at Yankee Stadium) as proof that he can still be a viable big league starter in a different environment.

Yankees expected to pursue Corbin
Oct. 11: The Yankees are expected to target left-hander Patrick Corbin in free agency this winter, according to a report from MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman on Thursday.

New York will be looking to bolster its starting rotation after a shaky playoff performance in its Division Series loss to the Red Sox -- Luis Severino, J.A. Happ and CC Sabathia all struggled.

Happ and Sabathia will both be free agents this offseason. The Yankees could try to re-sign one or both of the left-handers, per Heyman.

Corbin, 29, is coming off a career year with the D-backs. He made the National League All-Star team for the second time in his career and set career-best marks with a 3.15 ERA, 1.050 WHIP and 246 strikeouts in 33 starts. More >

Cardinals re-sign Wainwright for 2019
Oct. 11: The Cardinals' pitching staff next season will once again include Adam Wainwright. The longtime leader of the rotation agreed Thursday to a one-year contract for 2019, which will be his 15th season with the club.

The two sides ended any speculation about the right-hander's future when they announced the extension, which will follow a five-year, $97.5 million contract that expired with this season. Financial terms of Wainwright's next deal were not disclosed by the club.

Wainwright's return further fills a rotation teeming with options for 2019. The Cardinals have several other starters -- including Carlos Martinez, Miles Mikolas, Michael Wacha, Jack Flaherty, Alex Reyes, Luke Weaver, Austin Gomber, John Gant and Daniel Poncedeleon -- also under contract. More >

Bryant turns down $200 million extension
Oct. 10: The Cubs made an attempt to lock up Kris Bryant to a multiyear deal in the neighborhood of $200 million, but the superstar third baseman turned down the deal in recent months, a source confirmed to MLB.com on Wednesday. ESPN's Dave Kaplan was the first to report the offer and its rejection. The club has not confirmed such an offer.

Bryant and agent Scott Boras are inclined to proceed on a year-by-year salary increase through arbitration before Bryant becomes a free agent after the 2021 season. Bryant earned a record $10.85 million in 2018, the highest salary a player has earned in his first year of arbitration.

Should Bryant plan to wait out his final four years of club control and hit the free-agent market, the Cubs could face the possibility of losing him for nothing. In that context, Bryant might be a valuable trade commodity as a former National League MVP Award winner who is under club control for three more seasons. More >

Marlins deal Barraclough amid push for Mesa brothers
Oct. 10: The Marlins continue to build up more international dollars for their pursuit of Cuban prospects Victor Victor Mesa, Victor Mesa Jr. and Sandy Gaston.

On Wednesday, they traded right-hander Kyle Barraclough to the Nationals for an undisclosed amount of international bonus pool money. It was the Marlins' second trade in four days after dealing prospect Ryan Lillie to the Reds on Saturday, also for international pool money.

Before the two deals, the Marlins had $4.3 million in their international allotment, the second most of any team. Only the Orioles, at $6.7 million, have more. How much that gap has narrowed isn't yet known.

Victor Victor Mesa, 22, and Victor Jr., 18, are both outfielders. Gaston is a 16-year-old right-hander. Victor Victor Mesa is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the top international prospect on the market, and Gaston is ranked 16th. Major League Baseball recently cleared the three players as free agents, and on Friday they had a showcase in front of about 75 scouts at Marlins Park. More >

David Price took a moment to maintain the bullpen mound, so he's literally a #PitcherWhoRakes

The Red Sox won in David Price's ALCS Game 2 outing on Sunday, 7-5. Across 4 2/3 innings, the lefty struck out four. And while he did give up a home run and five hits, he almost cut his postseason ERA in half. When it came to Game 3 in Houston, on Tuesday, he proved he could straight rake -- no, not that kind of raking ... literal raking.

Kemp saves at least 1 run with remarkable grab

MLB.com @alysonfooter

HOUSTON -- Minute Maid Park was sold out and the roof was closed for Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, but one could hear the proverbial pin drop while the crowd waited for the ball to drop into Tony Kemp's glove in left field in the third inning of Tuesday's 8-2 Astros loss to the Red Sox.

ALCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 4: Wednesday, 8:39 p.m. ET/7:39 CT on TBS

View Full Game Coverage

HOUSTON -- Minute Maid Park was sold out and the roof was closed for Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, but one could hear the proverbial pin drop while the crowd waited for the ball to drop into Tony Kemp's glove in left field in the third inning of Tuesday's 8-2 Astros loss to the Red Sox.

ALCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 4: Wednesday, 8:39 p.m. ET/7:39 CT on TBS

View Full Game Coverage

With runners on first and second and two outs, Steve Pearce sent a not-so-long fly ball off Houston southpaw Dallas Keuchel to the shortest part of the field in left. The ball appeared to be sailing toward the wall but hung up long enough for the 5-foot-6 Kemp to scamper over, feel the wall with his hand and leap into the air to make the catch.

Inning over.

Keuchel appeared to hold his breath as he watched the play unfold. The crowd was silent, up until the moment Kemp, the shortest outfielder to appear in a Major League game this year, showed that the ball was in his glove. Then, the ballpark erupted.

Boston manager Alex Cora challenged the call, disputing whether it was actually a catch or if the ball bounced off the wall. After a very brief review, the catch was confirmed, and the Astros escaped the inning trailing the Red Sox, 2-1.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

Houston Astros, Tony Kemp

Melo, Chris Paul take in ALCS Game 3

The Astros and Red Sox were tied, 1-1, in the American League Championship Series entering Tuesday night's Game 3. The Astros had former Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel on the mound, they had Nolan Ryan, Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell staring down opposing starter Nathan Eovaldi behind home plate and they had home-field advantage. The odds were seemingly in their favor.

But just in case, they also brought in Houston Rockets stars Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and James Harden to take in the action. And not just regular ole' Carmelo Anthony, but Hoodie Melo.

Mozeliak: Ankiel 'very much committed' to return

MLB.com @LangoschMLB

ST. LOUIS -- While the Cardinals practice a policy of not commenting about potential interest in free agents, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak made an exception Tuesday. It had to do with Rick Ankiel.

Back in August, after pitching against other former big leaguers in an exhibition game, Ankiel announced that he planned to pursue one final comeback attempt at the age of 39. It was an unexpected pronouncement from the converted outfielder, who hadn't pitched in the Majors since 2004. He retired in 2013 and currently serves on the Cardinals' broadcast team.

ST. LOUIS -- While the Cardinals practice a policy of not commenting about potential interest in free agents, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak made an exception Tuesday. It had to do with Rick Ankiel.

Back in August, after pitching against other former big leaguers in an exhibition game, Ankiel announced that he planned to pursue one final comeback attempt at the age of 39. It was an unexpected pronouncement from the converted outfielder, who hadn't pitched in the Majors since 2004. He retired in 2013 and currently serves on the Cardinals' broadcast team.

Mozeliak confirmed that he "had a nice discussion" with Ankiel a few weeks ago about the left-hander's future plans. The two plan to touch base again this winter.

"I understand his sincerity and seriousness of this," Mozeliak said. "It is something that he's going to put 100 percent effort in, and I think he's very much committed to trying."

Ankiel famously developed the yips during the postseason in 2000, the same year he finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting. He made six appearances the following season and five more in '04 before becoming a position player. Ankiel went on to play seven more seasons in the Majors and remained with the Cardinals through 2009.

Reyes recovery update

Alex Reyes will soon transfer his rehab work from St. Louis to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where the Cardinals hope a change of scenery can keep the top prospect energized as he works his way back from shoulder surgery.

"He's been so intimately engaged with the Cardinals medical staff that I think we need to give him a break," Mozeliak said. "It's maybe not something that all of you see in a day-in, day-out basis, but I think he's sick of looking at the nurse. You know what I mean? So it's time for a change."

By moving his workouts to south Florida, Reyes will remain close to the Cardinals' complex in Jupiter.

Mozeliak said the organization expects Reyes to begin a throwing program in about six or seven weeks. The Cardinals plan to take a "very patient approach" with Reyes in Spring Training, but anticipate that he'll be healthy for the start of the regular season. He'll prepare as a starting pitcher, even though Reyes has thrown only 73 pitches in the Majors since 2016.

Video: STL@MIL: Reyes makes MLB return, throws 4 scoreless

Reyes missed the 2017 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery and then suffered a shoulder injury that sidelined him following his season debut in May.

"Right now, I would say the organization is pretty excited about where he's at and also pretty optimistic about where he's at," Mozeliak added.

Worth noting

• Mozeliak confirmed that no one on the club's 40-man roster underwent any sort of surgical procedure following the conclusion of the regular season. Nor, he added, are any upcoming surgeries expected.

• Left fielder Marcell Ozuna is scheduled for a follow-up visit with orthopedist Dr. Neal ElAttrache later this month. It was during a meeting with ElAttrache in August that Ozuna decided to receive a cortisone injection in his ailing right shoulder. As it is, the Cardinals believe Ozuna can address the shoulder injury through physical therapy this winter.

• Though the Cardinals were among those present at Trevor Rosenthal's recent workout in California, Mozeliak would not speculate about a potential reunion with the club's former closer.

Rosenthal sat out the 2018 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He was released by the Cardinals last offseason, and thus, is available as a free agent. Rosenthal, who collected 121 saves over six seasons with the Cardinals, has been rehabbing primarily in St. Louis.

• Former Cardinals reliever Ryan Sherriff announced via Twitter on Tuesday that he has signed a Minor League contract with the Rays. Sherriff was released by the Cardinals in August after undergoing season-ending elbow surgery. He appeared in five games for the Cardinals in 2018.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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