What we're watching: Wolf looks to quiet Rockies

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– Joe Saunders returns after missing just three turns with shoulder tightness that he said had been a factor since spring training. The Angels have been pretty aggressive in handling him even though they still have the game’s second-best record and his health could play a huge role in determining their fortunes in October. Before being shut down following his Aug. 7 start, Saunders had given up at least four runs in eight straight outings, taking his ERA from 3.66 to 5.33. He’ll be facing the Tigers and Edwin Jackson.
– Also returning is knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who takes an 11-3 record into his start against the White Sox. It will be his first start since July 8. The Red Sox placed him on the DL after the break with a back strain, and he also struggled with a sore calf that developed during his rehab. He’s 7-0 with a 3.92 ERA at Fenway Park this season. Gavin Floyd will take the ball for the Pale Hose.
Game of the Night
Colorado vs. Los Angeles – We’ll go with this matchup again, since it worked out pretty well last night. The Rockies won that one 5-4 in 10 innings, moving them to within two games of the NL West lead. It’ll be Randy Wolf versus Josh Fogg in the middle contest of a three-game series. Wolf, whose early-season hard luck has all transferred over to Clayton Kershaw lately, has won three straight starts, with the Dodgers scoring nine runs in two of those games. He’s 8-6 with a 3.34 ERA overall. Fogg will be making his first start of the year after replacing the injured Aaron Cook in the rotation. He has a 2.25 ERA in 20 relief appearances.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.