Link-O-Rama: Alvarez powers Team USA in World Cup

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* Pirates prospect and 2008 first-round pick Pedro Alvarez smacked three homers yesterday as the United States blew out Chinese Taipei in the World Cup. Team USA is now 6-1 in the tournament, including 4-0 in the second round.
* Believe it or not the smallest gap in any division right now belongs to the AL Central, where the Tigers and their four-game lead begin a three-game series with the second-place Twins tonight.
* In addition to the Royals finally signing Aaron Crow another prominent holdout came to an end yesterday, as No. 44 overall pick Tanner Scheppers agreed to terms with the Rangers. He reportedly gets more than $1 million.
* Based on this data, Jerod Morris is probably sitting in his parents’ basement somewhere, smiling.
* My favorite television writer, Alan Sepinwall, is trying to come up with “similarity scores” for actors and actresses like the ones Bill James invented for baseball players.
* If you’re not following me on Twitter yet, you missed out on my mom’s analysis of Justin Morneau’s season-ending back injury.

Nationals will add Mat Latos to the roster on Thursday

ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 11:  Mat Latos #38 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Texas Rangers in the bottom of the first inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on May 11, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Thursday is September 1, which means rosters expand. As a result, the Nationals plan to promote pitcher Mat Latos to the major league roster, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Latos had an opt-out clause for Monday, but after discussing the matter with the team, he agreed to stay at Triple-A Syracuse until Thursday.

Latos, 28, put up a 4.62 ERA over 11 starts with the White Sox before being released in mid-June. Nearly two weeks later, he signed a minor league contract with the Nationals.

In the Nationals’ minor league system, Latos has made three starts for the club’s Gulf Coast League team as well as three for Syracuse. In aggregate, the right-hander has yielded six runs (four earned) on 20 hits and 10 walks with 28 strikeouts in 28 innings.

Latos will likely pitch out of a long relief role for the Nationals and can be used as starting rotation insurance as well.

John Gibbons texts Mark Buehrle, “You know, rosters expand in September.”

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - OCTOBER 2:  Mark Buehrle #56 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the second inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on October 2, 2015 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Mark Buehrle hasn’t officially retired, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in professional baseball since last October. Still, the Blue Jays wouldn’t mind having some insurance, so manager John Gibbons recently texted Buehrle, “You know, rosters expand in September,” Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports.

Buehrle’s response? He texted back a picture of a lake. Sounds like he’s not interested in making a return, at least this year.

Last year, at the age of 36, Buehrle went 15-8 with a 3.81 ERA with a 91/33 K/BB ratio in 198 2/3 innings while leading the league with four complete games. He fell 1 1/3 innings shy of a 15th consecutive 200-inning season. There are many worse ways to end a career.