What we're watching: Big starts for Penny, Price

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– After playing a dramatic 13-inning game Tuesday, the Red Sox and Rays will be looking for long outings from their starters tonight. Unfortunately for them, Brad Penny and David Price aren’t very good bets to turn them in. Penny has averaged 5.5 innings per start while going 7-5 with a 5.07 ERA. He’s yet to go seven full innings this year. Price did pitch seven innings last time out, doing so for the second time this year. However, that was against the Royals. He’s averaged 5.0 innings on is way to a 4-4 record and a 5.10 ERA.

– It probably wouldn’t have made the list under normal circumstances, but tonight’s Brewers-Dodgers game could feature fireworks if there’s still some fight left in Prince Fielder after he tried to charge the Dodger clubhouse following Tuesday’s game. Perhaps Fielder will simply let his bat do the talking against the Dodgers’ Jason Schmidt, who has been throwing 85-88 mph since returning last month. Dodger bats should make some noise as well. Braden Looper has allowed 11 runs over 11 innings in his last two starts, and he gave up four homers when he faced Los Angeles back on July 10.

Game of the Night

Colorado vs. Philadelphia – Two of the game’s hottest left-handers will face off as the Phillies try to break a three-game losing streak. They’ll turn to J.A. Happ, who has lost two in a row since his 7-0 start. Run support has played a big role there, though, as the Phillies scored a total of one run in the two losses. Happ had a 2.93 ERA and a 1.05 ERA during July. Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa was 5-0 with a 2.50 ERA last month. He’s won seven starts in a row and lowered his ERA from 5.81 to 4.68 in the process.

Shohei Otani may come to the United States after 2017

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Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?

Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.

It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.

Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.

Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.

The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.