White Sox reportedly targeting Nationals slugger Adam Dunn

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Last week general manager Mike Rizzo said the Nationals were “looking into” a contract extension for impending free agent Adam Dunn and “have been talking about it since spring training.”
Dunn has made it clear that he’d like to remain in Washington beyond his current two-year, $20 million contract, but my sense has been that the Nationals aren’t sure if they really want to make a long-term commitment to an over-30, should-be designated hitter.
All of which is why today’s report from Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times that the White Sox are pursuing a trade for Dunn is no shocker. They looked like a team in turmoil and were seemingly on the verge of selling off their own veterans just a few weeks ago, but after starting the season 24-33 the White Sox have won 15 of 18 games to pull within two games in the AL Central.
Chicago’s impressive run has been based mostly on excellent starting pitching, as the offense ranks just 10th in scoring. Production from the designated hitter spot has been particularly bad, with a rotating cast of eight different players led by Mark Kotsay and Andruw Jones combining to hit just .218 with a .293 on-base percentage and .371 slugging percentage in 66 games. In other words, Dunn would be a perfect fit.
Dunn tends to be underrated by people who focus on his strikeouts and overrated by people who ignore his bad defense, but his overall production has been outstanding regardless of how often he’s made contact and moving to the AL would allow him to ditch the glove entirely. Dunn is on pace for a seventh straight year with 35-plus homers and ranks eighth in the NL with a .925 OPS that’s just slightly above his .904 career mark.
White Sox general manager Ken Williams has a long history of bold moves and adding Dunn at a spot where the team has been among the worst in baseball would make a huge impact.

The Mets are set to host the NL wild card game

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 01: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets is congratulated after hitting a two-run home run against the Philadelphia Phillies during the sixth inning of a game at Citizens Bank Park on October 1, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
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In the end, the Mets’ march into the playoffs played out just how they imagined: three innings of a Bartolo Colon perfecto, four combined innings of one-run ball from five different relievers, a James Loney home run. Well, maybe it looked a little different when they drew it up.

Colon guided the Mets through five innings for his 15th win of the year, striking out six and giving up a two-run homer in the fifth. Behind him, the Mets combined for five runs off of RBI base hits from T.J. Rivera and Jose Reyes, finding an edge with Loney’s go-ahead homer in the sixth and a bonus RBI single from Asdrubal Cabrera in the ninth inning. Despite a pair of well-placed home runs by Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf, the Phillies found themselves in scoring position just twice and were unable to close the two-run gap to tie the game.

The Mets’ 5-3 win over the Phillies clinched their spot in the postseason, sans tiebreaker. They also secured home-field advantage for Wednesday’s wild card game, during which they’ll face either the Cardinals or the Giants. On Friday, the wild card winner will advance to the Division Series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

As MLB.com’s Jeff Passan and Joe Trezza simultaneously pointed out, it will be an unconventional playoff run for the Mets, who approach October without Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Neil Walker, David Wright, Zack Wheeler, or Ben Zobrist. Now, if ever, seems like an appropriate time for some champagne.

Indians’ postseason rotation is still up in the air

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 16: Starting pitcher Corey Kluber #28 of the Cleveland Indians pitches during the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field on September 16, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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With Game 1 of the Red Sox-Indians ALDS set to commence on Thursday, there’s no better starter for the job than Corey Kluber. The only question is whether or not the right-hander will be up to the task after sustaining a mild quadriceps strain earlier this week.

Indians’ manager Terry Francona appeared optimistic about Kluber’s chances of recovering in time for the Division Series, but admitted that he doesn’t have his rotation set in stone for the first couple of postseason games. Complicating matters is Monday’s potential make-up game between the Indians and the Tigers, which they’ll be forced to play if the outcome has bearing on playoff seeding.

Per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, Francona doesn’t have a starter for the make-up game, either, though he clarified that rehabbing right-hander Danny Salazar would not be eligible. Salazar is still working his way back from a forearm injury in hopes of joining the Indians for their postseason run, and needs to toss another simulated game before he can be expected to return to the mound. Kluber, meanwhile, will throw off the mound on Sunday.

With Kluber or Salazar limping out of the gate, the Indians will likely have to fall back on right-handers Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin. Bauer is slated for Saturday’s face-off against the Royals and confirmed his willingness to pitch on short rest through the playoffs. The 25-year-old also spoke to the Indians about his ability to pitch out of the bullpen, though it’s an option they appear unlikely to exercise. While Francona’s comments on Friday stressed the club’s patient approach toward their rotation, Bauer appeared revved and ready to go:

If it was up to me, […] I’d pitch and be ready to start or be available out of the ‘pen every game. In the playoffs, there’s really no reason to save anything. So, whenever I can get in there, whenever they want me to get in there, I’ll be ready.