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.

White Sox sign first baseman Travis Ishikawa

Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Travis Ishikawa hits an RBI-single off Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Raisel Iglesias to drive home Neil Walker in the seventh inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015, in Cincinnati. The Reds won 4-3. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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First baseman Travis Ishikawa has agreed to a minor-league contract with the White Sox that includes an invitation to spring training.

Ishikawa was previously reported to have a minor-league deal with the Mariners last month, but the signing was never finalized. Now he joins the White Sox, who have Jose Abreu and Andy LaRoche ahead of him on the first base/designated hitter depth chart.

Ishikawa had some big moments for the Giants in the 2014 playoffs, but he’s a 32-year-old journeyman with a lifetime .255 batting average and .712 OPS in 488 games as a big leaguer.

It’s possible the White Sox could keep him around as a bench bat and backup first baseman/left fielder, but Ishikawa seems more likely to begin the season at Triple-A.

Mariners sign reliever Joel Peralta

Joel Peralta
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Right-hander Joel Peralta has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Mariners that includes an invitation to spring training.

Peralta spent last season with the Dodgers and was limited to 29 innings by neck and back problems, posting a 4.34 ERA and 24/8 K/BB ratio. Los Angeles declined his $2.5 million option, making him a free agent.

He was one of the most underrated relievers in baseball from 2010-2014, logging a total of 318 innings with a 3.34 ERA and 342 strikeouts, but at age 40 he’s shown signs of decline. Still, for a minor-league deal and no real commitment Peralta has a chance to be a nice pickup for Seattle’s bullpen.

White Sox sign Mat Latos

Mat Latos
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Jerry Crasnick reports that the Chicago White Sox have signed Mat Latos.

Latos was pretty spiffy between 2010-2014, posting sub-3.50 ERAs each year.  Then the injuries came and he fell apart. He pitched for three teams in 2015 — the Dodgers, Angels, and Marlins — with a combined 4.95 ERA in 113 innings. And he didn’t make friends on those clubs either, with reports of clubhouse strife left in his wake.

In Chicago he gets a fresh start. It doesn’t come in a park that will do him any favors — Latos and U.S. Cellular Field don’t seem like a great match — but at this point beggars can’t be choosers.

 

Jason Castro loses arbitration hearing against Astros

Jason Castro
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Veteran catcher Jason Castro and the Astros went through with an arbitration hearing over a difference of $250,000 and the three-person panel ruled in favor of the team.

That means Castro will make $5 million this season rather than his requested amount of $5.25 million. This is his final year of arbitration eligibility, so the 29-year-old catcher will be a free agent after the season.

Castro showed a lot of promise early on, including making the All-Star team at age 26 in 2013, but since then he’s hit just .217 with a .650 OPS in 230 games. His power and pitch-framing skills are a valuable combination even within sub par overall production, so 2016 will be a key year for the former first-round draft pick.