– Tommy Hanson’s second big-league outing will come against the Orioles
in Baltimore. He started off in fine fashion against the Brewers five
days ago, only to end up allowing three homers and seven runs in six
innings. This could be a tougher assignment, as the Orioles lead
baseball with a .294 average at home and are tied for fourth with 39
homers. The Orioles are set to start Jason Berken, who was picked over
David Hernandez to remain in the rotation with Koji Uehara back. Berken
is 1-2 with a 7.04 ERA in three starts.
– My hopes of seeing Lance Berkman reach 300 homers, 1,000 RBI,
1,500 hits and 5,000 at-bats at the same time were dashed Thursday,
when he reached 5,000 at-bats in his final plate appearance. He’s still
at 299 homers, 994 RBI (with just one in his last seven games) and
1,499 hits. It won’t be easy to add to the totals with the Astros
facing Dan Haren tonight, but maybe we’ll see Berkman get 1,500 hits
and Miguel Tejada reach 2,000 (he’s at 1,999) in the same game.
– Roy Halladay, the major league leader in victories and winner of
seven straight, will go for his 11th win versus the Marlins on Friday.
Florida will counter with Ricky Nolasco, who was effective in his
return to the majors last week. The Marlins are 14-4 against the Jays
all-time, but this will be the first time they’ve faced off since 2006.
– The Subway Series kicks off with Livan Hernandez and Joba
Chamberlain on the mound. Hernandez is working on a streak of four
straight victories, but he hasn’t had to face any American League teams
this year and he hasn’t pitched in any ballparks like new Yankee
Stadium. In fact, not one of his five wins this year has come against a
team currently over .500. He’s 0-3 with a 6.37 ERA in five career
starts against the Bombers. Chamberlain will be making his first ever
start against the Mets. He’s 3-1 with a 3.79 ERA this season.
Game of the Night
Boston vs. Philadelphia – A showdown between the teams with the
second- and third-best records in baseball highlights the interleague
schedule tonight. The Red Sox will begin the series with Jon Lester,
who has lowered his ERA from 6.07 to 5.09 while allowing two runs in 15
innings and striking out 23 over his last two starts. He beat the
Phillies last June by throwing seven scoreless innings. Phillies
starter Joe Blanton is also much improved recently. He’s lowered his
ERA from 7.11 to 5.46 by giving up just five runs over his last three
starts. The former Athletic is 3-2 with a 3.75 ERA in eight starts
against the Red Sox.
Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.
Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.
The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.
Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.
As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.
Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.
If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.
Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.
But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.
Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …
Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.
There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.
Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.
Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.
We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.
Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.
The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.
Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.