What we're watching – June 2

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– The only five-game winner to start Monday was Todd Wellemeyer.
Tonight, we get aces Johan Santana, Tim Lincecum, Roy Halladay, Dan
Haren and Jake Peavy, along with Erik Bedard, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Rick
Porcello, A.J. Burnett, Ubaldo Jimenez and Joe Saunders. Plus, there
are seven-game winners Kevin Slowey and Bronson Arroyo, as well as Zach
Duke, Randy Wolf, Randy Wells and their sub-3.00 ERAs. In other words,
it’s a good night for pitching.

– Unfortunately, that’s going to make it hard to watch the two
starters making their major league debuts: Oakland’s Vin Mazzaro and
Philadelphia’s Antonio Bastardo. Mazzaro, 22, had a 2.38 ERA, 42 hits
allowed and a 44/17 K/BB ratio in 56 2/3 innings for Sacramento. I
suspect that he’ll be a long-term reliever, but he’s worth watching as
a starter with his low-90s fastball and slider.

Seeing Bastardo get the nod over Andrew Carpenter in Brett Myers’
place was a pleasant surprise. The 23-year-old lefty is hardly a sure
thing, but he has a very good changeup to complement an average
fastball. He had a 1.89 ERA and a 51/10 K/BB in 47 2/3 innings between
Double- and Triple-A to start the year.

– The AL’s only two teams with 30 wins will begin another series
tonight. This one will take place in New York after the Yankees won two
out of three in Texas least week. Vicente Padilla will return from the
DL to start for the Rangers. A.J. Burnett will get the ball for the
Yankees. Both right-handers have identical 3-2 records and ERAs in the
4.70s. Mark Teixeira will get another crack at his old team agter going
5-for-14 with two homers and five RBI in the series last week.

Game of the Night

Boston vs. Detroit – Matsuzaka, an 18-game winner last year,
searches again for his first victory of 2009 after giving up seven runs
over 10 innings in his first two starts back from the DL. The Tigers
will counter with Porcello, who has won five straight and lowered his
ERA from 6.23 to 3.48 in the process. As impressive as Porcello has
been, he’s mostly beaten up on weak teams. In his three starts against
the AL’s top five offenses, he’s 1-2 with a 5.06 ERA.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.

For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.

Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.

Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.

The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.