What we're watching: Hanson vs. Pedro

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hanson.jpg– The Braves got a much-needed win Thursday to avoid a home sweep at the hands of the Padres. Now they could really use two out of three games this weekend in Philadelphia. They’ll try to start the series right with Tommy Hanson on the mound against Pedro Martinez. Hanson, who will be facing the Phillies for the first time, has won four straight starts to improve to 9-2 with a 3.12 ERA. Martinez is 2-0 with a 5.14 ERA in his three starts. He’s struggled early in outings, but the Phillies have managed to support him with 21 runs in his two victories.
– CC Sabathia is on a roll anyway, but tonight he’ll get to face a White Sox team he’s gone 15-4 against in his career. If he can win a sixth straight start tonight, he’ll be the first pitcher this year to reach 16 victories. Trying to halt his streak will be old rival Mark Buehrle. The trends aren’t encouraging, though. Buehrle is 0-4 with a 6.21 ERA in six starts since his perfect game against the Rays, and he’s 1-6 with a 6.84 ERA lifetime against the Yankees. When Sabathia and Buehrle locked horns on Aug. 2, Buehrle gave up seven runs and 12 hits over 4 1/3 innings in a loss.
Game of the Night
Colorado vs. San Francisco – The Rockies won three out of four against the Giants in Colorado last weekend, but they’ll be playing in San Francisco this time and the Giants are an NL-best 41-21 at home. Game 1 would seem to be the premier matchup of the series, with Ubaldo Jimenez and Tim Lincecum facing off for the second time in six days. Jimenez prevailed last time after allowing two runs in eight innings. He’s won five straight starts, and he hasn’t lost in nine. Lincecum, on the other hand, has gone four straight starts without a victory, damaging his Cy Young case. The loss last weekend was his first in eight career starts against Colorado. He has a 1.79 ERA and a 75/9 K/BB ratio in 60 1/3 innings against Colorado lifetime.

Orioles interested in Denard Span

Denard Span
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.

Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.

The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.

Blue Jays showing interest in Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.

Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.

Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.

After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.

Trevor Cahill considering the Pirates as a potential destination

Trevor Cahill
AP Photo/Paul Beaty

ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.

It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.

Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.

Blue Jays narrow GM search to two candidates: Tony LaCava and Ross Atkins

Tony LaCava
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.

LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.

Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.