With the Cardinals and Indians less than an hour from first pitch, here’s a few things to consider:
A pair of aces:
– Chris Carpenter (4-0, 1.23) toes the rubber for the Cardinals. He’s
coming off his worst start of the season against the Marlins, which is
saying a lot, considering that he allowed three runs over six innings.
The 2005 Cy Young award winner has limited opponents two runs or less
in all six of his other starts. He’s holding opposing batters to a .163
batting average and has served up just one home run in 44 innings
pitched this season.
– Cliff Lee (3-6, 3.17) starts for the Indians. The defending Cy
Young award winner was hit hard by the Royals in his last start,
yielding four runs on 11 hits over six innings as part of a
no-decision. The four runs were the most Lee has allowed since April
11. Lee has a 2.31 ERA over his last 11 starts, after a 9.90 ERA over
his first two starts. Righties are batting .322 off the southpaw.
El Hombre en fuego:
– With his 27th career multi-homer game on Saturday, Albert Pujols
has went deep in three consecutive games. He’s tied with Raul Ibanez
for the National League lead in home runs with 22 and is second to
Ibanez with 57 RBI.
– With Grady Sizemore on the disabled list due to an elbow injury,
the Indians first turned to Ben Francisco to lead off, but mired in a
4-for-30 funk, the Indians inserted Jamey Carroll there on Friday. So
far, Carroll is 2-for-8 with a walk from the top spot.
– With the Cardinals loading their lineup with right-handed batters against the southpaw Lee, rookie Colby Rasmus takes a seat.
– Kerry Wood hasn’t allowed a run in his last nine appearances, spanning 8 1/3 innings.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.