What we're watching: Kawakami vs. Johnson

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– Tim Hudson versus Josh Johnson would have been tonight’s premier matchup, but the Braves have pushed Hudson back and opted to go with Kenshin Kawakami instead. Kawakami has lost both of his starts against the Marlins this season, amassing an 8.44 ERA in 10 2/3 innings. The last loss was in a matchup against Johnson on July 29. Including that win, Johnson is 6-1 in his last eight starts. His ERA, though, did creep over 3.00 for the first time all year when he gave up three runs in six innings against the Mets last week.
– Rich Harden reportedly will stick with the Cubs and face Roy Oswalt and the Astros tonight. With his 1.80 ERA and even more impressive 0.82 WHIP since the break, Harden has been one of the NL’s best pitchers lately. Oswalt is 1-1 with a 5.25 ERA in four starts since returning from a back injury. The last two starts, though, were much better than the first two. The Cubs are the one NL Central team that Oswalt isn’t over .500 against in his career. He’s 12-12 with a 3.86 ERA against them.
Game of the Night
Chicago vs. Minnesota – One of the AL Central rivals will make up some ground on Detroit tonight after the Tigers lost their afternoon game against the Rays. Gavin Floyd will start for the skidding White Sox, who have lost seven of their last eight games. He’s 7-3 with a 2.77 ERA in 16 starts since the beginning of June. Twins starter Nick Blackburn, on the other hand, has gotten a whole lot worse as the season has progressed. He entered the All-Star break at 8-4 with a 3.06 ERA, yet is 0-5 with an 8.22 ERA since. He’s gone 2-1 with a 3.15 ERA in his three starts against the White Sox this year, but all of those came in the first half.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.