The Astros sign Ryan Rowland-Smith

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We interrupt the crazy Cliff Lee/Carl Crawford/Adrian Beltre chatter to tell you that the Astros have signed pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith. That from Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. Yes, we realize that this isn’t an Earth-shattering signing, but it’s nice to have a transaction that doesn’t invoke the name of large, monied east coast teams.

Rowland-Smith had a couple of good years in Seattle, working out of the pen exclusively his first year, and then transitioning into a swingman (though usually a starter).  He hit a wall last year, however, culminating in a late July start in which he allowed 11 runs to the White Sox.  After a stint on the disabled list — which some of us thought was questionable — he returned for four more games in which he was at least serviceable.

If he can return to his pre-2010 form — he had a 4.57 ERA in 362 career innings — he’ll be a cheap and useful pickup for the Astros. If not, well, he’ll still be cheap.

The Cubs will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday

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The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.

The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.

Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.

The matchups for Tuesday’s action:

Carter Capps to undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome

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Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.

Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.

The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.