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MLB Playoffs continue with 4 Division Series games

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MLB Playoffs continue with 4 Division Series games

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ALDS GAME 4: KANSAS CITY ROYALS AT HOUSTON ASTROS

Series: Astros lead 2-1
Where:
 Minute Maid Park, Houston
Gametime: 1:00 p.m.
TV: FS1
Radio: ESPN Radio
Weather: Indoors
Starting pitchers: KCR RHP Yordano Ventura (13-8, 4.08 ERA) / HOU RHP Lance McCullers (7-11, 3.10 ERA)

The Kansas City Royals were the best team in the American League during the regular season, but they face elimination from the playoffs on Monday in an afternoon game at Houston. The Astros, on the other hand, have a chance to clinch an ALCS berth for the first time since 2005. Considering they lost at least 90 games in each of the previous four seasons, it is quite remarkable they are in this position.

The Royals will pitch flame-thrower Yordano Ventura, who took the loss in Game 1 of this series. He gave up three earned runs on four hits and a walk in just two innings of work. Rookie Lance McCullers, 22, will make his postseason debut for Houston.

ALDS GAME 4: TORONTO BLUE JAYS AT TEXAS RANGERS

Series: Rangers lead 2-1
Where:
 Globe Life Park, Arlington
Gametime: 4:00 p.m.
TV: FS1
Radio: ESPN Radio
Weather: Sunny, 92 degrees, wind 5 mph
Starting pitchers: TOR RHP R.A. Dickey (11-11, 3.91 ERA) / TEX LHP Derek Holland (4-3, 4.91 ERA)

The Blue Jays saved their season on Sunday with a 5-1 win on the road in Texas. The Rangers will now take another shot at clinching a spot in the ALCS at home.

Toronto will start former Cy Young-winner R.A. Dickey, who at 40 is making his first playoff appearance in 13 MLB seasons. He was a first round pick by the Rangers back in 1996.

Lefty Derek Holland will pitch for Texas in his 14th playoff game. He was a big part of Texas' 2010 and 2011 teams that won the AL pennant.

NLDS GAME 3: ST. LOUIS CARDINALS AT CHICAGO CUBS

Series: Tied at 1-1
Where:
 Wrigley Field, Chicago
Gametime: 6:00 p.m.
TV: TBS
Radio: ESPN Radio
Weather: Sunny, 72 degrees, wind 20 mph
Starting pitchers: STL LHP Michael Wacha (17-7, 3.38 ERA) / CHC RHP Jake Arrieta (22-6, 1.77 ERA)

Game 3 of the Cardinals and Cubs shifts the NLDS back to Chicago for the first playoff game at Wrigley Field since 2008. Monday will also feature a great pitching matchup between Jake Arrieta - perhaps the favorite for NL Cy Young - and Michael Wacha, who at 24 is already a postseason legend of sorts. Wacha was brilliant in 2013 when the Cardinals reached the World Series and earned NLCS MVP honors.

Arrieta, though, has already shined in this years playoffs. He tossed an 11-strikeout shutout against the Pirates in the Cubs' NL Wild Card win. Arrieta has been historically good over the last few months and having him now pitch in the friendly confines of Wrigley should only help.

NLDS GAME 3: LOS ANGELES DODGERS AT NEW YORK METS

Series: Tied at 1-1
Where:
 Citi Field, New York
Gametime: 8:30 p.m.
TV: TBS
Radio: ESPN Radio
Weather: Partly cloudy, 64 degrees, wind 5 mph
Starting pitchers: LAD LHP Brett Anderson (10–9, 3.69 ERA) / NYM RHP Matt Harvey (13-8, 2.71 ERA)

The nightcap of Monday's four playoff games will feature the postseason debut of Matt Harvey, the former NL Rookie of the Year who is in his first year back from Tommy John surgery. There was a lot made of his inning restrictions down the stretch of the regular season, as the Mets did their best to save him for the playoffs. Now we get to see how he actually does on the big stage.

Harvey saw the Dodgers twice this season and allowed five earned runs in 12 total innings. He is coming off a strong outing against the Nats when he allowed only one unearned run in six innings with 11 strikeouts.

Lefty Brett Anderson will pitch for L.A., as they try to regain home field advantage in this series. Anderson has made two playoff appearances before and holds a 1.42 postseason ERA.

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May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

The start of spring training is a glimmer of hope during the cold of winter. It means warm weather, cold beers and hot dogs at the ballpark are coming your way.

It's our first chance to get a taste of how our favorite team is shaping up for the 2018 season, and for those who are not quite into just the game itself, betting odds.

CG Technology, a Las Vegas sportsbook operator, has set the 2018 odds for each MLB team.

Specifically, how are things looking for the local teams?

RELATED: 2018 SPRING TRAINING REPORT DATES

Washington Nationals: 91 1/2 wins

The 2018 season is looked at by many as the last World Series run for some time for the Nationals and their core group of players. Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Gio Gonzalez will become free agents after the 2018 season in addition to general manager and President of Baseball Operations, Mike Rizzo.

In 2017, the team won 97 games and went on to win the NL East, but couldn't make it past the first-round of the National League Division Series. In 2018, Vegas is giving the Nats 7/2 odds of taking the National League title. They are just behind the Chicago Cubs, who knocked them out of contention last season, at 4/1 odds.

As far as winning the World Series, Vegas is giving the guys an 8/1 chance of their first title, tied with the Cubs.

Baltimore Orioles: 77 1/2 wins

The O's finished the 2017 season with 75 wins, which could be considered somewhat of an accomplishment considering their pitching resources.

The same problem will occur in 2018 as the organization hasn't signed any new starting pitchers. Vegas is giving them 50/1 odds of taking the American League title and 100/1 odds of winning the World Series.

The lack of depth in their rotation will come back to bite them as division rival New York Yankees have 5/1 odds of winning the World Series and the Red Sox have 10/1 odds.

A below average season should be expected.

A few other standouts, good and bad, include the Miami Marlins at 500/1 odds of winning the World Series, the Kansas City Royals at 200/1 and current champions, the Houston Astros, at 6/1 odds.

RELATED: FORMER NATS PITCHER ARRESTED WITH MORE THAN 40 POUNDS OF SUSPECTED COCAINE

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Former Nationals pitcher Esteban Loaiza arrested with more than 40 pounds of suspected cocaine

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Former Nationals pitcher Esteban Loaiza arrested with more than 40 pounds of suspected cocaine

SAN DIEGO — Former All-Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza has been arrested on suspicion of trafficking drugs after packages containing a white powder believed to be cocaine were found at a home he rented in Southern California, officials said Monday.

The 46-year-old former Major League Baseball player was booked Friday on charges involving the possession, transport and sale of 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of suspected cocaine worth an estimated $500,000, according to the San Diego Sheriff's Department.

Loaiza played for numerous teams between 1995 and 2008, starting with the Pittsburgh Pirates and concluding with his second stint with the Chicago White Sox. He had a 21-9 record with the Chicago White Sox in 2003 and started in the All-Star Game that year.

RELATED: NATS REVEAL 2018 SPRING TRAINING TV SCHEDULE

He also played one season for the Washington Nationals in 2005 — the team's inaugural season in D.C. after the franchise changed from the Montreal Expos. During his one season in Washington, Loaiza finished with a 12-10 record adn a 3.77 ERA over 34 games played that year.

It was not immediately known if Loaiza had hired a lawyer and the former player could not be reached to comment. He was being held Monday for lack of $200,000 bail pending a court appearance on Wednesday.

Loaiza's agent, John Boggs, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he had no information about the arrest and that he has not spoken to Loaiza recently. He said that Loaiza had called his office early last week but Boggs was unavailable at the time.

"I am shocked and saddened by the news and had no indication he would ever be in this type of situation," Boggs said in a text to the newspaper. "I don't know how he would get himself involved in this, so it's difficult to even comment on it."

Officers stopped Loaiza for a minor traffic infraction Friday after he left the home he started renting recently in the Pacific coast community of Imperial Beach, along the U.S.-Mexico border. Authorities had the vehicle under surveillance on suspicion it was used for smuggling drugs.

When they searched the vehicle, they found a sophisticated compartment used to conceal contraband, authorities said. That led them to obtain a search warrant for Loaiza's rental home, where they found the packages of drugs, according to investigators.

The packages containing a white powder are still being tested but are believed to be cocaine, said San Diego Sheriff's Lt. Jason Vickery.

Loaiza was born in Tijuana, Mexico and was married for two years to the late Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera. She filed for divorce shortly before she died in a plane crash in 2012.

The 43-year-old Rivera was known as the "Diva de la Banda" and died as her career was peaking. She was perhaps the most successful female singer in grupero, a male-dominated Mexico regional style, sold more than 15 million records, and moved into acting and reality television.

Loaiza sued the aircraft's owners in 2014 for wrongful death but her relatives accused him of trying to profit from her death. He denied the accusations and later retracted his lawsuit.

NBC Sports Washington contributed to this report.

RELATED: WHEN PITCHERS, CATCHERS REPORT FOR SPRING TRAINING