– Sinkerballer Sergio Mitre, who underwent Tommy John surgery last
year, will make his Yankees debut against the Orioles after going 3-1
with a 2.40 ERA in seven starts for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He
was 10-23 with a 5.36 ERA in 52 starts and 26 relief appearances for
the Cubs and Marlins from 2003-07. If he succeeds in his first couple
of starts, it will relieve any pressure on the Yankees to out Phil
Hughes back into the rotation.
– Josh Beckett will aim for fifth straight win while pitching on
eight days’ rest against the Rangers. The Red Sox opted to give both he
and Tim Wakefield additional time off even though neither ended up
working in the All-Star Game. Beckett, who could become the AL’s first
12-game winner, will be opposed by Tommy Hunter, who is 1-1 with a 1.53
ERA in three starts since being recalled at the end of last month.
Game of the Night
Chicago Cubs vs. Philadelphia – It’ll be up to Rich Harden to halt
the Phillies’ nine-game winning streak. He’s coming off one of his best
starts, having allowed just one unearned run and three hits over six
innings against the Nationals last time out. While his season ERA
stands at 5.06, he’s 4-1 with a 2.17 ERA outside of Wrigley Field. The
Phillies, though, have been far better at home lately after getting off
to a surprisingly awful start at Citizens Bank Park. They’re 10-1 in
Philadelphia this month. Joe Blanton will start for the Phillies.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.