What we're watching: Nats go for ninth straight win

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– Junichi Tazawa will make his first major league start in front of a home crowd at Fenway as the Red Sox play the Tigers tonight. Fortunately, Boston was able to halt its six-game losing streak last night, taking some of the pressure off the 23-year-old import. The Tigers will also be starting a rookie in Rick Porcello, who lost to the Red Sox after giving up three runs in 4 1/3 innings on June 2. He’s 10-7 with a 4.30 ERA.
– Also making their first career starts tonight are Seattle’s Doug Fister and Colorado’s Jhoulys Chacin. Fister stands 6-foot-8, but command is his forte, as he walked just 11 batters in 106 1/3 innings for Triple-A Tacoma this season. He’ll be relying heavily on Seattle’s league-best outfield defense when he faces the White Sox. Chacin, a far superior prospect, is going to make a spot start against the Pirates with Aaron Cook out. He’s allowed one run and struck out nine in five innings since joining Colorado’s bullpen last month.
Game of the Night
Washington vs. Atlanta – The Nationals go for a ninth straight victory with ace John Lannan on the mound tonight. Lannan, who has gone 8-8 for a 40-72 team, ranks 15th in the NL in ERA despite recording just 64 strikeouts in 148 2/3 innings. He’s going 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts against the Braves this season. Trying to cool off the Nats will be young Tommy Hanson, who outpitched Lannan in his July 4 start only to see the Braves bullpen blow a two-run lead. He’s 6-2 with a 3.22 ERA.

Rangers will not exercise Mike Napoli’s 2018 option

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The Rangers have informed 1B/DH Mike Napoli the club will not exercise his 2018 option, worth $11 million, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. Instead, the Rangers will pay Napoli $2.5 million to buy him out of his contract, making him a free agent.

Napoli, 35, hit a disappointing .193/.285/.428 with 29 home runs and 66 RBI in 485 plate appearances this past season. Given his age and declining production, it’s not shocking that the Rangers want to look elsewhere.

Napoli turns 36 at the end of the month. Given his age and worsening peripheral stats, he will likely have to settle for a one-year deal this offseason.