– After nine straight losses on the road, the Blue Jays finally return
home tonight. Unfortunately, they’ll be facing the Red Sox, who started
off Toronto’s losing streak with a three-game sweep at Fenway last
week. The winning pitcher in the first game of that series, Tim
Wakefield, will be back on the mound for this one. He allowed one run
over eight innings in his previous start against the Jays, and he’s 6-2
with a 3.99 ERA for the season, making him Boston’s most effective
pitcher so far. The Blue Jays will give Casey Janssen his second start
of the year. Janssen, making his way back from shoulder surgery,
allowed three runs over six innings in a loss to Atlanta six days ago.
– The surging Yankees will start a series tonight in Cleveland,
where the Indians just pulled off a four-game sweep of the Rays. Andy
Pettitte gets the nod for the Yankees against one of only two AL teams
he’s under .500 against in his career (Seattle being the other). The
Indians will go to Cliff Lee, who beat the Yankees on April 16 for one
of his two victories so far this season. Aside from that game, which
Cleveland won 10-2, the Indians have totaled 19 runs in Lee’s nine
Game of the Night
St. Louis vs. San Francisco – A pair of five-game winners will
square off in San Francisco, with Joel Pineiro going against Matt Cain.
Pineiro is inducing grounders at a league-best rate, but he’s lost four
of his last five starts anyway, partly due to poor run support. He has
a shutout and five other quality starts in nine trips to the mound this
season. Cain has won his last two outings and has seven quality starts
to his credit. However, he is 0-1 with a 9.58 ERA in two career starts
against the Cardinals. Albert Pujols has a homer and a double in five
career at-bats against him.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.