Hudson passes physical, extension with Braves all but official

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Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that Tim Hudson “has passed his physical and essentially made his three-year contract extension a done deal.”
Unlike the Rays and Pirates with yesterday’s Akinori Iwamura-for-Jesse Chavez trade the Braves will likely wait until after the World Series to officially announce the Hudson deal, but he’s expected to receive about $27 million over three years.
Hudson’s old contract contained a $12 million mutual option for 2010, but the two sides reportedly worked out a new deal last week and merely had to wait until the insurance company approved a doctor to do the physical exam. Atlanta had strong rotation depth even before re-signing Hudson through 2012, so the Braves seem almost guaranteed to trade a starting pitcher this offseason.
They’d no doubt like to unload the remaining three years and $45 million on Derek Lowe’s contract, but if that proves impossible parting with Javier Vazquez or Kenshin Kawakami are also options. With a front three of Hudson, Tommy Hanson, and Jair Jurrjens in place for at least the next three years general manager Frank Wren has quite a bit of flexibility and the assets to address other areas.

Joe Girardi won’t use Masahiro Tanaka in Game 7

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The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.

Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.

Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.

Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.