What we're watching: Carpenter vs. Haeger

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– Francisco Liriano will attempt to build on a strong effort against the Royals when he faces the AL wild card-leading Rangers in Texas.  It will be his second start in Arlington in a month, as he allowed three runs — two earned — in six innings in a no-decision on July 19.  The Rangers will counter with Tommy Hunter, who just shut out the Indians for 7 2/3 innings last time out.  The 2007 supplemental first-round pick is 5-2 with a 2.26 ERA.

 

– Ted Lilly will rejoin the Cubs’ rotation tonight after missing four starts due to left shoulder inflammation and a knee injury that required minor surgery.  It looks like he’ll be able to ease back into action against a Padres team that has been especially weak against left-handers (.229/.300/.368).  Lilly is 5-2 with a 3.55 ERA against San Diego in his career.

 

Game of the Night

 

St. Louis vs. Los Angeles – The NL’s two winningest teams will begin a three-game series with a rather lopsided pitching matchup.  Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter is 12-3 with a 2.27 ERA that ranks second in the majors.  Dodgers knuckleballer Charlie Haeger is 1-2 with a 6.35 ERA in a career that includes one start and 18 relief appearances.  It will be his debut for the team after he went 11-6 with a very impressive 3.55 ERA for Triple-A Albuquerque.  Away from the offensive paradise the Isotopes play in half of the time, he had a 2.44 ERA.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.