Cubs' Lilly impressive in return from disabled list

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Ted Lilly was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Saturday afternoon and tossed six scoreless innings against the division rival Cubs.  He should help revitalize a Chicago rotation that has lost a bit of its identity since the demotion of Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen.

Lilly went 12-9 with a career-best 3.10 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP last season for the
Cubs and was even named to the All-Star game mid-summer.  He’s getting a late start this year due to back and shoulder issues that killed his ability to get ready during spring training.

In a corresponding move, reliever Jeff Samardzija was optioned to Triple-A Iowa.  He has been awful this year on the big league level and the Cubs are hoping some appearances against lesser competition will boost his confidence.  The club is also considering grooming him as a starter while he is down in the minor league ranks.

The Rays acquire reliever Dan Jennings from the White Sox

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The White Sox have traded multiple relievers recently. They just traded another, sending lefty Dan Jennings to the Rays for first baseman Casey Gillaspie.

Jennings has a 3.45 ERA and a 38/19 K/BB ratio in 44.1 innings. He’ll likely serve as a setup man with Tampa Bay. He’s more than a rental, as he’s under team control for two more years.

Gillaspie, 24, is hitting .227/.296/.357 with nine home runs in 395 plate appearances at Triple-A. He hit much better in 2016 at Triple-A, however, and made it on some top-100 prospects lists. What the White Sox’ plans for him are with Jose Abreu around, however, are unclear.

The Braves send Dansby Swanson to Triple-A

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The Atlanta Braves have optioned shortstop Dansby Swanson to Triple-A Gwinnett.

It was a move that was a long time coming. It was probably overdue. Swanson had been relegated to a backup role since the All-Star break, and him neither (a) contributing to the club; or (b) getting regular work in order to develop as a player, was the least optimal of situations.

Swanson has had a down, momentarily up, and then down again season. He batted .156 in April and .216 in May. He rebounded in June, batting .306, but his July has been a nightmare in which he has gone 6-for-48 with only five walks. He has started just six of the Braves 13 games since the All-Star break, losing time to Johan Camargo.

Swanson, 23, jumped from Double-A to the big club in August of last year and hit .302 with an .803 OPS over 38 games. That earned him the shortstop job heading into 2017, but he’s obviously in need of either more seasoning or, at the very least, some time to clear his head, because he’s not getting the job done.