What we're watching: Kawakami vs. Santana

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– Josh Johnson versus Wandy Rodriguez looks like the pitching matchup of the night. The two rank seventh and 11th in the NL in ERA, respectively. Johnson has gone 5-0 in his last six starts to move to 12-2 for the season, but his ERA has actually risen slightly during the span. Rodriguez was on an excellent role himself before giving up 10 runs last time out to take his ERA from 2.51 to 3.05. It was more runs than he had given up in his previous nine starts combined. Working in Rodriguez’s favor tonight is that the Marlins have struggled some against left-handed pitching. The Astros, though, have lost four of six games to the Marlins over the last two weeks.
– The Red Sox go for a big sweep in Toronto with Jon Lester on the mound. Lester has received no-decisions in four straight, though he struggled in only one of those outings. He’s 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA against Toronto this year, with the lone loss coming in a pitchers duel versus Roy Halladay. Fellow lefty Brett Cecil will go for the Jays. He owns a 5-1 record, but that one loss came to the Red Sox, as he gave up eight runs in 4 2/3 innings in Boston on May 20.
Game of the Night
Atlanta vs. New York – After a couple of routs to start the series, the Braves and Mets will play the deciding game tonight. The Mets won Tuesday after an eight-run inning against Derek Lowe, and the Braves destroyed Bobby Parnell as part of a 15-2 game last night. It will be Kenshin Kawakami versus Johan Santana in the finale. Kawakami has lost twice to the Mets despite posting a 3.09 ERA in his two starts. He’s been a victim of poor run support while going 0-3 with a 3.79 ERA in six starts since the All-Star break. Santana also has a history of poor run support against his opponent tonight. Before pitching seven scoreless innings to beat the Braves on July 18 — in a matchup against Kawakami — he had been 0-6 with a 2.31 ERA versus Atlanta.

The Tigers decline Anibal Sanchez’s 2018 option

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From the “this does not surprise us in the very least” department, Tigers GM Al Avila announced today that the club is declining its $16 million option on right-hander Anibal Sanchez.

Sanchez had a terrible year in 2017, going 3-7 with a 6.41 ERA in 2017. That’s a long slide down from his 2013 season, in which he won the AL ERA title, going 14-8 and posting an ERA of 2.57 in the first year of his five-year, $80 million deal. Since then he’s gone 28-35 with a 5.15 ERA. He never started 30 games or more over the course of the contract.

The declination of the option does come with a nice parting gift for Sanchez: a $5 million buyout. Which is pretty dang high for a buyout, but that’s how the Tigers rolled three or four years ago.