Previewing Sunday Night Baseball: Cards at Cubs

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With the Cardinals and Cubs about to bring the first half of the season to a close, here’s some things to consider…

On the bump

– Adam Wainwright (9-5, 3.09) toes the rubber for the Cardinals. He
tossed 8 1/3 shutout innings in his last start against the Brewers on
Tuesday. Wainwright has allowed two runs or less in four out of his
last five starts, lowering his ERA from 3.49 to 3.09 in the process. He
has pitched six or more innings in 16 straight starts dating back to
April 11.

– Randy Wells (4-3, 2.48) starts the nightcap for the Cubs. Wells
allowed two runs over six innings in a 4-2 win over the Braves in his
last start on Monday. He has won four consecutive starts, allowing two
runs or less in each of them. This is his first career start against
the Cardinals.

Back in the lineup

– Derrek Lee is back in the lineup after leaving Saturday’s game
with neck spasms. After a .189 April, the 34-year-old first baseman has
rebounded, compiling a .281/.356/.514 line with 17 homers and 56 RBI.

Rookie of the Year?

– After struggling through April and May, Colby Rasmus has asserted
himself as the prohibitive favorite in the National League Rookie of
the Year race. He currently leads all rookies in hits, runs, doubles,
homers and RBI.

All-Stars

– Ted Lilly (9-6, 3.18) is the lone Cubs All-Star while Albert
Pujols (.338, 32 HR, 85 RBI) Yadier Molina (.280, 5 HR, 30 RBI) and
Ryan Franklin (0.82 ERA, 20 saves)will represent the hometown Cardinals.

On the mend

– The Cubs will be without catcher Geovany Soto for about a month. He
was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a mild left oblique strain
on Saturday. Hampered by a shoulder issue in the early going, the 2008
National League Rookie of the Year got off to a slow start, but
regained some pop with six homers in 74 June at-bats. Koyie Hill will
fill in for now.

Fantasy angle

– Aramis Ramirez is 10-for-25 (.400) with a homer, four doubles and four RBI against Wainwright in his career.

Braves trade David Hernandez to the Angels

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The Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Angels have completed a minor trade: Atlanta is sending righty reliever David Hernandez to the Angels in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

Hernandez hasn’t pitched in the big leagues this year. He’s pitched in seven games at Triple-A, allowing one earned run in eight innings of work. In seven years of big league work he’s got an ERA of 4.10 in 379 games. Last year he put up a 3.84 ERA in 70 games for the Phillies.

I’m assuming the PTBNL is not Mike Trout.

The Nats are sniffing around for relief pitching help

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The Nationals began the year with Blake Treinen as their closer. That didn’t last long, and now Koda Glover seems to be Dusty Baker’s man in the ninth inning. He earned a save for the second consecutive game yesterday. Glover has been pretty darn good in the early going, posting a 2.35 ERA and striking out six batters and walking only one in seven and two-thirds. That obviously a small sample size, and anything can happen. If it does, Baker has Shawn Kelley as an option.

Not many household names there, which is probably why the Nationals are reported to be interested in the White Sox’ David Robertson and Alex Colome of the Rays. That report comes from Jim Bowden of ESPN, who also notes that the A’s have a number of guys with closing experience on staff and are likely to be sellers too. The David Robertson thing may have more legs, though, given that Mike Rizzo and Rick Hahn pulled off a pretty major trade in the offseason. If you know a guy well, you call that guy first, right?

As far as problems go this isn’t a huge one. The Nats sit at 13-5 and, as expected by most prognosticators, are in first place in the National League East. The Cubs had some questions in the pen this time last year too. They had the luxury of trying to figure it out before making a massive trade for a closer. The Nats do too, and likely will. But expect them to be a part of any trade rumor conversation for the next couple of months.