Report: Dodgers to pursue Papelbon?


Report: Dodgers to pursue Papelbon?

Last week, Jonathan Papelbon made known his desire to pitch for a contending team.

He might just get his wish.

The Dodgers are expected to pursue the Phillies' closer, reports Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles.

UPDATE: Saxson later tweeted that the Dodgers are actually not interested in Papelbon.

There haven't been many rumored suitors for Papelbon to this point, which is strange given his success this season and the remaining terms of his contract.

Papelbon is owed about $4.5 million more this season and $13 million next year. He also has a $13 million option for 2016 that vests with 55 games finished in 2015 or 100 games finished in 2014-15. The guaranteed money left on his deal does not look as daunting as it did a year ago.

Papelbon is enjoying his best season as a Phillie in their worst year with him on the team. He has a 1.21 ERA in 38 appearances with 22 saves in 24 opportunities. His strikeouts remain down -- he whiffed 11.2 batters per nine from 2007-12 compared to 8.2 in 2013-14 -- but Papelbon is inducing a ton of soft contact and has yet to allow a home run this season.

The Dodgers are a team that could certainly afford to absorb Papelbon's contract, if that's the route the Phillies wish to go. L.A. entered the year with a $230 million payroll.

It's a curious fit, though. The Dodgers have a closer in Kenley Jansen who dominated last season with a 1.88 ERA and had a 2.10 ERA from 2010-13. This season, Jansen has 27 saves in 30 opportunities with a 3.49 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings. Perhaps the Dodgers' plan would be to move Jansen back into a setup role where Brian Wilson has failed. It seems unlikely that the Dodgers would trade for a career closer like Papelbon to have him pitch in the eighth inning.

The Phillies would rather add prospects than subtract salary in a trade, but if they're unable to find difference-making young pieces for Papelbon, clearing his money and moving Ken Giles or Jake Diekman into the closer's role might be the best fallback plan.

We took a look at some of the Dodgers' top prospects on Wednesday, albeit in regard to possible Cole Hamels discussions.

MLB Playoffs: Indians reach 1st World Series since 1997

MLB Playoffs: Indians reach 1st World Series since 1997

TORONTO -- For the Cleveland Indians, the script was the same every game -- hope for the best from whoever they started, then count on Andrew Miller and the bullpen to close it out.

That plan seemed especially dicey in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series, with lightly used Ryan Merritt on the mound.

But out of nowhere, the rookie delivered.

Merritt coolly kept the Indians ahead until reinforcements arrived, and Cleveland earned its first trip to the World Series since 1997 by blanking the Toronto Blue Jays 3-0 Wednesday.

The 24-year-old lefty defied expectations, shutting down the powerful Blue Jays before exiting in the fifth inning. Thanks to a most unlikely pitching performance, a most unexpected team won the ALCS 4-1.

Cleveland, which has never hosted a World Series opener, will play Game 1 at Progressive Field on Tuesday night against the Chicago Cubs or Los Angeles Dodgers.

Manager Terry Francona's team will try to augment what's already been a scintillating year in Cleveland after LeBron James and the Cavaliers earned the city's first major pro sports championship since 1964.

The Indians' title drought dates to 1948. In 1997, they let a one-run lead get away in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 7 and lost to the Florida Marlins in the 11th.

"We always said if we could do it with this group it would be so special because this is as close to a family feel as you can get in a professional setting. So for that part of it, it is beyond feeling good," Francona said (see full recap).

Cubs' bats come alive to even series
LOS ANGELES -- Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell and the rest of the Chicago Cubs' bats broke out in a big way.

Rizzo homered and ended a postseason slump with three RBIs, Russell's two-run drive highlighted a four-run fourth that stopped Chicago's 21-inning scoreless streak as the Cubs routed the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-2 on Wednesday to even the NL Championship Series at 2-all.

Kenta Maeda is set to pitch for the Dodgers in Game 5 on Thursday against Jon Lester. Before the game, manager Dave Roberts said he will not start Clayton Kershaw on short rest after the Los Angeles ace threw a bullpen session Wednesday.

Chicago ensured the NLCS will return to Wrigley Field for Game 6 Saturday.

To break out of his prolonged slump, Rizzo used teammate Matt Szczur's bat.

"I know Szczur's bat has a lot of hits in it," Rizzo said. "I've done it a few times this year, just switching up the bat, switching up the mindset."

Following consecutive shutout losses, the Cubs rapped out 13 hits on an 80-degree (26 degree Celcius) night with the warm Santa Ana winds fluttering the flags in center field.

Rizzo and Russell had three hits each. Chicago's 3-4-5 hitters -- a combined 2 for 32 in the first three games -- busted out. Every Cubs starter got at least one hit except Kris Bryant, who walked twice (see full recap).

For first time all season, Cubs not the World Series favorite

For first time all season, Cubs not the World Series favorite

For the first day, and perhaps the only day all season, the Chicago Cubs are not the World Series favorite.

Down 2-1 to the Dodgers in the NLCS with Game 4 Wednesday night in L.A., the Cubs' World Series odds are now 5/2, according to Bovada.

The Dodgers have the best odds of the final four teams at 7/4. The Indians, up 3-1 on the Blue Jays in the ALCS, are next at 2/1. Toronto is the longshot at 8/1.

Veteran John Lackey starts for the Cubs tonight against 20-year-old rookie Julio Urias. Jon Lester goes for the Cubs Thursday in Game 5; the Dodgers haven't yet named a starter.

In any event, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz and Joe Blanton are just two wins away from returning to the World Series for the first time since 2009. 

Utley is 3 for 24 with eight strikeouts this postseason. 

Ruiz contributed in the NLDS with a pinch-hit two-run homer in Game 3 and a pinch-hit, game-winning RBI single in Game 5.

Blanton, who had a great season as a reliever, has made six appearances in the playoffs and five have been clean. In the other, he allowed five runs in two-thirds of an inning as the Dodgers dropped Game 1 to the Cubs.

Phillies fans still keep tabs on former players from their Golden Era and applaud them when they return, but seeing Utley, Chooch and Kentucky Joe in the Fall Classic wearing Dodger blue might be too much for some to take.