Dave Roberts did not flinch. With his club nursing a two-run lead in the ninth inning against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night, the Dodgers manager summoned the man he says he still trusts to close games. He gave the ball to Kenley Jansen.
For a few moments, Jansen, his disastrous outing Saturday still fresh, appeared in control. The right-hander got Fernando Tatis Jr., a favorite to win the National League MVP award, to ground out to begin the inning. Then things went sideways. Manny Machado lined a single. Mitch Moreland blooped a single to center field with help from AJ Pollock’s slow jump. Finally, Jansen walked Austin Nola to load the bases.
Wil Myers was next and Jansen suddenly found a rhythm. Myers struck out on three pitches. Then, six pitches later, Jansen got Jake Cronenworth to whiff on a 92-mph cutter for strike three to preserve the 3-1 win at Petco Park.
“These games are only going to get bigger,” Roberts said of Jansen. “I trust him with the baseball.”
Three days after being charged with five runs without securing an out against the Houston Astros, Jansen earned his 11th save against the middle of one of the best lineups in the majors. The Dodgers’ lead in the NL West, as a result, grew back to 21/2 games with 11 games remaining after Monday’s late-inning collapse in the series opener. The Padres’ winning streak ended at eight.
“I’m not going to let stuff like that in the past define our season,” Jansen said. “I don’t care what the result is and stats and any of that bullcrap. It’s time to win a championship. That’s all it is about.”
Jansen’s escape ensured that Tony Gonsolin’s dominant performance wasn’t wasted. The rookie right-hander muzzled the Padres over a career-high seven innings. He allowed one run on four hits despite recording only two strikeouts. He didn’t issue a walk and threw 90 pitches.
The Dodgers’ offense, a potent operation that has produced the third-most runs in the majors this season, received a boost Tuesday: Justin Turner returned to the lineup after missing 14 games because of a strained hamstring. Turner batted third as the designated hitter — he won’t play third base for at least three days — and provided an immediate impact.
The veteran went three for four and knocked in the game’s first run with an RBI single to right field in the first inning. In the third inning, he lofted a two-out single. Two batters later, Cody Bellinger drove him in with a single.
It was Bellinger’s first RBI since Aug. 30 — a stretch of 11 games — as he plods through another deep slump. The reigning MVP entered Tuesday batting .170 with a .550 OPS in his previous 14 games. On the season, he had a .215 batting average and .707 OPS. The recent struggles prompted Roberts to drop him from the cleanup spot.
But he isn’t the only left-handed slugger underperforming for the Dodgers (34-15). Joc Pederson struck out and grounded into a double play in his two at-bats Tuesday to sink his batting average to .174. He’s two for 31 in his last 11 games.
Max Muncy, meanwhile, was given Tuesday off as a mental break. The 2019 All-Star is batting .198 with 52 strikeouts. He owns a 0.0 WAR, making him the equivalent of a replacement-level player.
Does Roberts believe the Dodgers can win a World Series without at least two of them reversing their struggles?
“No, I don’t,” the manager said. “I think those three guys are a big part of our lineup. So, to have them not get on track, it’d be very difficult.”
The diminished benefits of winning the division and earning the No. 1 seed were confirmed when Major League Baseball announced its unprecedented postseason format. The top four seeds in each league will host the first round, a best two-of-three games series, at their ballparks. The four winners in each league will then enter bubbles in Texas and California.
Wherever they play, the Dodgers need Turner 100% healthy, more production from their stable of left-handed sluggers, and Jansen to pitch clean ninth innings to win their first World Series in 32 years.
Tuesday marked the 40th anniversary of Fernando Valenzuela’s major-league debut as a 19-year-old prospect in 1980. The Mexican left-hander entered a 9-0 Dodgers loss to the Atlanta Braves in the sixth inning. He allowed two runs in two innings. He logged nine more relief appearances to finish the season before making his first career start on Opening Day the next season. He threw a shutout, launching Fernandomania en route to winning the National League Rookie of the Year and Cy Young awards.
Valenzuela, 59, spent 10 seasons with the Dodgers and is an analyst on the Dodgers’ Spanish-language television broadcast team. He finished his 17-year major-league career 173 wins and a 3.54 ERA.
“Man, Fernando, on many levels, has impacted not only the Mexican community, [but] Major League Baseball, the Dodgers, he’s just such a good man and I didn’t realize it had been 40 years,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “That’s crazy.”
The Dodgers fired at least four members of their pro scouting department, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, as part of broader downsizing across the organization. The Athletic first reported the cuts. … Reliever Joe Kelly will be active in Wednesday’s series after a month-long stint on the injured list and serving a five-game suspension.
5 sleepers to start, 5 starters to sit in Week 3
We’re two weeks into fantasy football this year and we’ve had some massive injury concerns already pop up. Perhaps unlike anything ever during a single weekend… Week 2 might have hit your team hard.
But because of that, setting your lineup correctly has some increased importance in Week 3. If you lost a consistent starter, that replacement must preform, and we’re here to help.
Here are five sleepers to start and five starters you’ve got to sit in Week 3 of fantasy football:
49ers running back Jerick McKinnon. Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Sleepers to start
After having to really prove his worth early this season, Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill has done that. He has six touchdowns and 488 passing yards. Not a ton of yardage, however, his lack of any interceptions makes up for that. Previously thought of as a good secondary, the Vikings are not so far this year, allowing the fifth-most yards per game (283.5) and 10th most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.
There’s not a lot of other options in the Dolphins offense, that’s a good start to the discussion for Myles Gaskin. Add that into the Dolphins backfield. Gaskin through two games is leading in snaps by a large margin and while Jordan Howard is getting goal line touches, it’s Gaskin in South Beach. The Jaguars are also allowing the ninth-most fantasy football points to running backs this year.
Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman are going to miss the 49ers’ Week 3 contest versus the New York Giants. That could mean a two-back system with Jerick McKinnon and Jeff Wilson. But the 49ers have consistently targeted their running backs a lot in the passing game anyway and that’s where McKinnon thrives. Plus, Jimmy Garoppolo is likely to miss the game. The 49ers lean on their running backs when their starter does play, let alone when a backup QB is in.
No defense, specifically has taken more of a beating on the field via injuries than the 49ers. No Nick Bosa or Soloman Thomas the rest of this season. That could’ve bode well for Sterling Shepard, but the Giants’ No. 1 receiver is sidelined himself. This lines up for a good outing en route for Golden Tate, who stepped up in 2019 when Shepard was out.
Fresh off a three touchdown outing, it’s unlikely that Tyler Higbee would do that again against any given team. But the Bills allowed a huge game to the Dolphins’ Mike Gesicki last week without their starting linebackers on the field, and both are still limited in practice this week and will unlikely be 100 percent. Higbee is a safe bet.
Texans running back David Johnson. Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Starter to sit
The Broncos have suffered a rash of injuries, which could play a part in sitting Tom Brady this week in a way. That, and Brady just isn’t good this season… yet. It’s hard to say he won’t thrive at some point with all the weapons around him, but in Week 3, the Broncos could eat up time of possession by running the clock and riding the likes of Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay in a low-scoring affair, minimalizing Brady’s’ output once again. The QB also has four picks in two games, so.
One can feel that David Johnson is the focal point of the Texans offense, but until their offensive line improves, that’s not going to change his impact, and the same can be said about quarterback Deshaun Watson to a lesser extent. But the biggest point to make is their opponent: the Steelers. The NFL’s No. 1 run defense so far this season.
A big-time quarterback matchup here in the Raven’s Lamar Jackson and the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes. It’s not that the Chiefs have a great run defense. In fact, they’ve allowed 150.5 yards per game on the ground which is awful. But if you have a viable No. 3 option behind Ingram, go with that option. Shootout in the making here with a lot of passing beyond the first quarter.
Without Michael Thomas in the lineup, the Saints offense, quarterback Drew Brees included, hasn’t been up to the fantasy football standards we’re used to. In Week 2, even in a game where they were passing late against the Raiders, Emmanuel Sanders got nothing going. One catch. That same situation could ensue vs. the Packers this week.
There’s a couple of things going against Marvin Jones this week. No. 1 receiver Kenny Golladay is still banged up and even if he plays, he might not be 100 percent so Jones will attract a decent amount of attention from the Cardinals. Arizona has allowed the least amount of point to opposing receivers this season in fantasy football thus far.
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Time for some get-right performances
Every week, our Yahoo fantasy football crew will reveal their boldest predictions for the action ahead. It’s time to get bold for Week 3!
Matt Harmon: Gallup is one of the few members of the Cowboys offense who hasn’t had a big game yet. But this is the week it happens, when he finishes as a top-10 wide receiver. The reason he hasn’t put up the numbers just yet is he’s been established as the deep threat of this offense. While players like CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper average 6.7 and 10.1 air yards per target, respectively, Gallup is all the way up at 17.9. The upside of a player like that is massive if/when a boost in volume comes. The routes run would show he is still plenty involved in this offense. He’s run the second-most routes on the team at 38.5. In a high-scoring back and forth affair between two great offenses in Seattle and Dallas, both of whom sport horrible pass rushes, Gallup gets his due.
[Week 3 Fantasy Rankings: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | FLEX | DST | Kickers]
Carson Wentz gets right in great matchup
Andy Behrens: I know you’re tempted to jettison Wentz after two mostly unhelpful games, but let’s just give him one more week, because the matchup ahead is as good as it gets. Cincinnati’s defense proved to be a get-right gift for Cleveland and the unit can do the same for Philly. Wentz is going to deliver a top-five positional finish against the Bengals. I’d give him at least a small percentage chance to lead all QBs in scoring this week (although Kyler is facing the Lions, so he’s gonna be tough to beat). Cincy has allowed 8.1 Y/A thus far, to a pair of sketchy passers. If Wentz can’t exploit this matchup, it’s a problem.
Jeff Wilson will carry 49ers ground game
Dalton Del Don: While Jerick McKinnon is active in the passing game, it’s Jeff Wilson who takes over as San Francisco’s lead back in a productive system. The Giants have quietly played well defensively, ranking No. 7 in DVOA, but Wilson is going to be busy with the 49ers dealing with too many injuries to list, and he’s been the team’s goal-line back before. Don’t be surprised when Wilson finishes as a top-20 fantasy back in Week 3 … Bonus prediction: Darius Slayton benefits greatly from injuries to Sterling Shepard, Saquon Barkley and many on San Francisco’s defense, and he’s a top-15 fantasy WR in Week 3.
Hayden Hurst rolls with elite tight ends
Scott Pianowski: When it comes to fantasy tight ends, I love the guys who don’t have to take out the trash. I’d prefer my tight end be running routes — not blocking, not stuck with a hand on the ground. Mike Gesicki is at the top of the slot-percentage list for tight ends, and not far behind is Hayden Hurst. Hurst’s role grew in Week 2, and he’s quickly grown comfortable with his new quarterback, Matt Ryan. With Julio Jones limited, or perhaps off the field entirely, this looks like a week where Hurst can go off. I’m calling for 10-plus Hurst targets and a Top 4 tight end performance.
Drew Sample is the surprise TE of Week 3
Liz Loza: Sample scores the sixth touchdown of his post-high school career on Sunday @ Philadelphia. With CJ Uzomah (achilles) out for the remainder of 2020, the Bengals second-round pick from a year ago figures to work as a regular underneath target for Joe Burrow. Last Thursday, the Washington product finished second in team looks, converting 7 of 9 balls for 45 yards. This week he’ll take on an Eagles squad that gave up a score to Logan Thomas in Week 1 and was torched by Tyler Higbee (3 TDs) last Sunday. Sample is rostered in just 1 percent of Yahoo leagues and is $10 in DFS.
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‘Bubbled’ Phillies back in Florida, looking to save a season and maybe a job
‘Bubbled’ Phillies back in Florida, looking to save a season and maybe a job originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Phillies are spending their last off day of the season – a calm before a crucial three-day storm, you could say – right back where this crazy, unforeseen, unprecedented 2020 season began seven months ago.
After Thursday night’s season-saving, 12-3, win over the Washington Nationals, the Phillies jetted to Tampa and spent the night in Pinellas County, Florida, just a few miles from where they first assembled in February, back when COVID-19 was just a secondary item on the nightly news.
We know what happened a month later. The virus shut down the country and put a four-month pause in professional sports. Major League Baseball cobbled together a 60-game season, starting on July 23, and on Friday night, the Phillies will begin what basically amounts to a do-or-die, three-game, final weekend series against the Tampa Bay Rays, the same team they were playing back on March 12 in Port Charlotte when the third base umpire turned to Phil Gosselin and said, “We’re done after this.”
The Phillies woke up Thursday morning off the NL playoff grid, a game back in the wild-card race and a half-game back in the NL East race. They pretty much need a weekend sweep, and some outside help, to make the eight-team postseason field.
The 37-win Rays, champs of the AL East, are the second-best team in baseball behind the Los Angeles Dodgers. Charlie Morton will start the first game of the series for the Rays. They have not announced their starters for Saturday and Sunday, but could rely on the bullpen, one of the best in the majors, as they set their pins for the postseason in those final two games.
Vince Velasquez will start Friday night’s game for the Phillies. The talented but inconsistent right-hander is in his fifth season with the Phillies. He was the centerpiece in GM Matt Klentak’s first big trade after taking over in October 2015. Klentak has been immensely patient with Velasquez. It’s time for the pitcher to return the favor because Klentak’s job might be riding on this weekend’s results and the Phils’ getting to the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola will start Saturday and Sunday for the Phillies. Zach Eflin, coming off two gems, is set for the playoff opener – if the Phillies get there. If the Phils get in a pinch Sunday, he could be used out of the bullpen that day.
The Phils have been without Rhys Hoskins since he strained a ligament in his left elbow two weeks ago. He is unlikely to be ready to play in this final series. The Phillies hope he’s a possibility for the postseason, but off-season surgery remains a possibility.
The Phillies’ charter flight to Tampa on Thursday night was a little more crowded than usual. The Phils closed down their auxiliary training site in Lehigh Valley and are now traveling with their entire 40-man player pool. Only players in the pool are eligible to play in the postseason. Twenty-eight players will be active.
Players who are not on the active roster will work out before games.
The Phillies said they did not add first baseman Greg Bird to the 60-man pool because he tested positive for COVID-19 after his signing last week. Veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy was included in the pool. He was signed as insurance the same day as Bird. J.T. Realmuto is back in the lineup after missing 11 games with a hip injury and Andrew Knapp has flourished in a backup role, so the Phillies are hoping they won’t need more catching.
All teams are now in a bubble, home and away, for whatever remains of their seasons. For the Phillies, that’s not really a challenge because the remainder of their games, regular season and playoffs, if they get there, will be on the road.
Here’s a look at the Phillies’ 60-man player pool:
Right-handers: Jake Arrieta, Connor Brogdon, Zach Eflin, David Hale, Heath Hembree, Spencer Howard, Tommy Hunter, Adonis Medina, Héctor Neris, Aaron Nola, Blake Parker, David Phelps, Ramón Rosso, Vince Velasquez, Zack Wheeler and Brandon Workman.
Left-handers: José Álvarez, Garrett Cleavinger, Adam Morgan, JoJo Romero and Ranger Suárez.
Andrew Knapp, Jonathan Lucroy, Rafael Marchan and J.T. Realmuto.
Alec Bohm, Phil Gosselin, Didi Gregorius, Rhys Hoskins, Scott Kingery, Nick Maton, Jean Segura and Ronald Torreyes.
Jay Bruce, Bryce Harper, Adam Haseley, Mikie Mahtook, Andrew McCutchen, Mickey Moniak and Roman Quinn.
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