Pedro is looking good

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The Phillies have won ten in a row, the Mets stink, and even though I’m
a fan, I’m not sure the Braves have a high enough gear in their
transmission to catch up. In light of that, Philadelphia probably doesn’t need much more help this season. Unfortunately for their competition, however, they look like they could be getting it:

Pedro Martinez has taken a “really big step” forward after throwing
64 pitches over four innings in a simulated game. The Philadelphia
Phillies’ new right-hander faced hitters for the first time in 11 days
on Tuesday and afterwards said he was excited about the outing.

“Real, real good,” Martinez said. “Four innings, I was able to do
that. I didn’t feel tired. I felt like I could still do a little bit
more.”

Yeah, anyone can feel good at the driving range and then go out and hit
for crap, but the fact that Pedro felt good after throwing that many
pitches is a good sign. Given his stamina issues over the past couple
of years I’m dubious that he’ll be a truly effective starter, but if
Charlie Manuel can break conventional bullpen habits, Martinez could
certainly be useful as an uber-reliever, serving as a setup guy
sometimes, a spot starter other times and a secondary closer whenever
the need arises. Kind of a Swiss Army knife of a swingman, deployed in
such a way as to better preserve the other arms and to maybe even allow
starters to come back on shorter rest during the playoffs.

Little things like that can make the difference.

Brett Lawrie will take a pay cut to avoid arbitration with White Sox

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 12: Brett Lawrie #15 of the Chicago White Sox fields a ground ball during batting practice before the start of the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 12, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
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Infielder Brett Lawrie successfully avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, per a team announcement. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that the deal was for $3.5 million, significantly lower than the $4.125 million Lawrie was paid by the White Sox in 2016.

The White Sox acquired Lawrie last December in a swap for minor league arms Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. After splitting time at second and third base for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie slotted in at second base and DH for the White Sox and batted .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs in 384 PA. While it’s strange to see a healthy, fairly productive player receive a salary reduction in arbitration, Lawrie missed nearly half of the season with a strain in his left hamstring, though he’s projected to return at full health by the start of the 2017 season.

Cubs sign LHP Brian Duensing to a one-year, $2 million deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Brian Duensing #50 of the Baltimore Orioles throws a pitch in the eleventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.

The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.

The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.