Joe Blanton set to make final rehab appearance

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Sidelined since the end of spring training with an oblique injury, Joe Blanton is scheduled to make his third and final minor league rehab start Wednesday. Blanton threw just three innings in his previous outing, so he’ll need to increase his pitch count significantly in order to rejoin the Phillies’ rotation as planned next week.
Kyle Kendrick will almost surely be bumped from the rotation once Blanton is ready to return. He turned in another poor performance yesterday, giving him a 7.71 ERA and 9/9 K/BB ratio in 18.2 innings while allowing opponents to hit .316 with a .983 OPS against him. By comparison, for his career Alex Rodriguez has hit .305 with a .965 OPS, so Kendrick has basically turned every hitter he’s faced this season into a slightly better version of Rodriguez.
Current fourth starter Jamie Moyer also hasn’t been particularly effective, but has gone six innings in each of his three starts and sports a 5.00 ERA with an 11/4 K/BB ratio overall. Opponents have hit .257 with a .723 OPS versus Moyer, so the Phillies won’t have much of a decision to make when it comes to bumping a pitcher from the rotation to clear room for Blanton. Philadelphia sits atop the NL East at 11-7, 1.5 games ahead of Florida, New York, and Washington.

Cubs sign sinkerballer Steve Cishek

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Cubs have signed reliever Steve Cishek. No details about the deal are known yet. For what it’s worth, most relievers are signing two-year deals so far this winter and Cishek’s last deal was a two-year pact.

Cishek, 31-year-old sidearmer who throws a surprisingly fast sinkerball, posted a 2.01 ERA and a 41/14 K/BB ratio and allowed just 26 hits in 44.2 innings between the Mariners and Rays last season. He saved 25 games for the M’s in 2016. Last year he missed the first month and a half of the season following hip surgery, but seemed pretty healthy later in the year.

A nice pickup for Chicago.