A.J. Burnett wipes face

Make no mistake: A.J. Burnett is starting Game 4 no matter what

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A lot of nervous Yankees fans have been assuming — or hoping, maybe — that if the Yankees find themselves down 2-1 to the Rangers after tonight that Joe Girardi would pitch CC Sabathia on short rest for Game 4. Not so, says Joe:

Joe Girardi made it clear yesterday that A.J. Burnett would get the ball tomorrow night, regardless of what happens in tonight’s ALCS Game 3. And while the erratic righty has done nothing to instill confidence during his miserable second half, both Girardi and GM Brian Cashman said they think he will come through.

“I believe in A.J.,” Cashman said during the team’s workout yesterday at Yankee Stadium.

The issue, Dan Martin of the Post reports, is Phil Hughes who, if Burnett is to be avoided in this series, would have to go on short rest too and that’s just not in the cards.

And it’s probably smart to go with Burnett anyway, because even if CC Sabathia has done well on short rest in the past, on the whole, using starters like that generally leads to worse production from said starters. Maybe Sabathia was just born to be a 1970s starter and could keep it up forever, but it’s hard to ask the Yankees to bet on that, isn’t it? Even if betting on Burnett feels less safe at the moment?

We know this much at least: Cliff Lee stands a chance to earn more money while he’s sitting on the bench for Game 4 than he does on the mound in Game 3. Because if Burnett crashes and burns the Yankees are going to feel that much more pressure to go out and get another pitcher for next season.

Orioles are eying Welington Castillo as their primary catcher target

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 25: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks warms up prior to taking an at bat against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 25, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.

Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.

For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.

Report: Phillies agree to minor league deal with Daniel Nava

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 12:  Daniel Nava #12 of the Kansas City Royals bats during the game against the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.

Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.