Previewing Sunday Night Baseball: Phillies at Dodgers

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With the Phillies and Dodgers less than an hour away from first pitch, here are a few things to consider.

On the bump:

– Antonio Bastardo (1-0, 1.50) gets the start for the Phillies. In his
major league debut against the Padres on Tuesday, Bastardo tossed six
innings of one-run ball, fanning five and walking one. The only run
scored via an Adrian Gonzalez home run. The southpaw went 3-2 with a
1.89 ERA in 11 minor league starts this season.

– Randy Wolf (3-1, 3.21) toes the rubber for the Dodgers. He’s
coming off a rough start against the Diamondbacks on Tuesday, when he
yielded a season-high five runs over six innings, but was handed a
no-decision. He hasn’t lost a decision since his season-debut on April
7 against the Padres. The ex-Phillie has allowed two runs or less in
five of his last seven starts.

Going for 40:

– The Dodgers have steamrolled their way through the first half of
the season. With a 39-19 record (.672 winning percentage) the next
closest teams to their win total are the Brewers, Red Sox, Yankees and
Rangers who are tied with 33.

In the clutch:

– Andre Ethier has ended each of the last two games in walk-off
fashion, first with a game-winning RBI double off Brad Lidge on Friday
and then a 12th inning solo home run that broke a 2-2 tie on Saturday.
Ethier was slumping for the better part of a month, but has hits in 10
of his last 11 games.

Road warriors:

– The Phillies are 20-8 on the road this season, the best record in baseball. They are currently 4-2 on their 10-game roadtrip.

Fantasy angle:

– Jonathan Broxton has fanned 30 over 17 2/3 scoreless innings at
Dodger Stadium this season. Opponents are batting just .070 (4-for-57)
off him there.

– Juan Pierre is batting .455 (20-for-44) against left-handers this season.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

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Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.