Ubaldo Jimenez becomes first pitcher since 2000 with 15 wins before the All-Star break

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Ubaldo Jimenez may not be the top pitcher of the first half, but by beating Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals yesterday he became the first pitcher with 15 wins before the All-Star break since 2000.
Jimenez held the Cardinals to one run in eight innings, bouncing back from three straight poor starts to improve to 15-1 with a 2.20 ERA that now ranks third in the league behind Josh Johnson (1.70) and Jaime Garcia (2.17).
I wrote last week about how unlikely Jimenez is to become the first 30-game winner since Denny McLain in 1968, but certainly at this point becoming the first 25-game winner since Bob Welch in 1990 is very possible. Of course, the last guy to have 15 wins by the All-Star break was David Wells in 2000 and he ended up with “only” 20 for the season (he also had a 4.11 ERA).
Incidentally, for as much as guys like me want to believe the baseball word has advanced past evaluating pitchers by win totals, I’d bet quite a bit on Jimenez getting the nod for the All-Star game over Josh Johnson despite an ERA that’s currently a half-run higher. Then again I also think Zack Greinke and Tim Lincecum probably wouldn’t have won the (deserved) Cy Young awards with low win totals last season if another guy in either league had 20-plus wins.

Report: Braves sign Kurt Suzuki

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 20: Kurt Suzuki #8 of the Minnesota Twins hits against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on August 20, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The Braves reportedly have a deal in place with free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that the contract is for one year, $1.5 million with up to $2.5 million in additional incentives.

Suzuki, 33, completed a three-year track with the Twins in 2016, slashing .258/.301/.403 with eight home runs in 373 PA. The veteran backstop likely won’t provide an offensive or defensive upgrade over current starter Tyler Flowers, but should give the Braves some depth at a position they’ve been looking to strengthen since the start of the offseason.

The team has yet to confirm the deal.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.

For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.

Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.