Quick hits: Happ to start Game 3 vs. Rockies

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– Saturday’s snow-out will allow the
Phillies to go with J.A. Happ in Sunday’s Game 3 against the Rockies.
Happ was knocked out of Thursday’s Game 2 after taking a comebacker off
the right shin, but appears to be good to go. With the inclusion of
Happ, the Phillies would presumably start Cliff Lee in Game 4 and Cole
Hamels in Game 5. If things go according to plan, Jayson Stark of ESPN
reports that
the Phillies would be the first team to start five left-handers in a five-game division series. The Mariners started four (Randy Johnson, Jamie Moyer and Jeff Fassero) against the Orioles in 1997.



– They’ll have to survive Saturday’s Game 3 first, but manager Tony LaRussa said Chris Carpenter will start on short rest in a probable Game 4 against the Dodgers on Sunday.
Carpenter yielded four runs over five innings in a 5-3 loss in
Wednesday’s Game 1. The Cardinals had considered John Smoltz or Kyle
Lohse for Game 4, but the early deficit has changed LaRussa’s mind. If
it happens, Carpenter, who missed large parts of two seasons following
Tommy John surgery, would be starting on three days rest for the first
time in his major league career.




– While former Nationals skipper Manny Acta acknowledged his interest in the Astros’ managerial vacancy on Friday night, it appears Jim Fregosi is also being considered for the job.
Fregosi, 67, hasn’t managed in the majors since 2000 with the Blue
Jays. He is 1,028-1,095 lifetime, making one World Series appearance
with the Phillies in 1993. Of course, current Astros general manager Ed
Wade was also the general manager of that team. While Fregosi is
highly-regarded for his handling of veteran players, it’s hardly an
inspiring choice for a team that has failed to make a postseason
appearance since losing in the World Series in 2005.




– And finally, Memories of Kevin Malone points out
that those with postseason inexperience (Randy Wolf, Cliff Lee, Adam
Wainwright, Brian Duensing and Clayton Kershaw) have outperformed those
who have been there before (Chris Carpenter, Cole Hamels, C.C.
Sabathia, John Lackey, Aaron Cook, Jon Lester, Ubaldo Jimenez). This is
a small sample-size, to be sure, but it goes back to what Jim Leyland
always says: Take talent over experience.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.