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.

Michael Conforto unlikely to be on the Mets’ Opening Day roster

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Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters today that it was “unlikely” that Michael Conforto will make the opening roster.

Not shocking given the shoulder surgery he had back in September, but given that he seems to be recovering more quickly than first anticipated, it was worth Alderson’s time to make the announcement. Indeed, back in December it was not expected that he’d see much if any game action at all during spring training, but here he is, playing DH today in the Mets game against the Cardinals.

Conforto missed the last six weeks of the 2017 season with a left shoulder injury and underwent surgery in early September to repair a tear of the posterior capsule in his shoulder. He finished the season batting .279/.384/.555 with 27 home runs and 68 RBI in 440 plate appearances. By the looks of things, he should be back some time in April.