Carl Pavano is suddenly the top starting pitcher on the market

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By waiting until the Cliff Lee domino fell Carl Pavano has put himself in position to be the most sought-after starting pitcher on the free agent market, which is both very smart on his agent’s part and remarkable given how the veteran right-hander was viewed just a couple years ago.

Pavano was a huge bust in New York, winning a grand total of nine games for the Yankees during a four-year, $40 million contract and spending more time on the disabled list than in the rotation.

After leaving the Yankees following the 2008 season his stock was so low and he was viewed as so undependable that Pavano managed only an incentive-laden one-year deal with the Indians that guaranteed him just $1.5 million. In the two seasons since then Pavano has pitched very well and even more surprisingly proven to be very durable, not missing a single start while going 31-21 with a 4.39 ERA in 420 innings.

Even before Lee made his decision Pavano was drawing significant interest from at least three teams and now that the Rangers have missed out on Lee it’s possible they’ll join the Twins, Nationals, and Brewers in pursuit of Pavano. Put aside his history in New York and Pavano would be a pretty good fit for the Yankees too, but you can be certain there’s zero chance of general manager Brian Cashman signing him a second time.

In the span of two years Pavano has gone from oft-injured bust to dependable innings eater and he could be in line for as much as $30 million in upfront money after getting just $1.5 million guaranteed last time he hit the open market.

Video: Bryce Harper crushes a home run to the Chase Field concourse

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Aaron Judge may be the talk of the town right now, but let’s not forget some of Major League Baseball’s more established sluggers. Take the Nationals’ Bryce Harper, for instance, who jumped on a full count during the first inning of Saturday’s game and postmarked the ball to the center field concourse in Chase Field.

Harper’s mammoth hit was the first career home run allowed by Diamondbacks’ rookie Anthony Banda. Banda quickly recovered with an inning-ending strikeout to Ryan Zimmerman, but was booted from his big league debut after Harper, Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon combined for a three-run spread in the sixth.

The first-inning homer also served another purpose: it extended Harper’s hitting streak to 15 games, the longest current streak in MLB this season. He’ll need four more games to tie the 19-game streak Royals’ infielder/outfielder Whit Merrifield established back in June.

The Nationals currently lead the Diamondbacks 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Chi Chi Gonzalez to undergo Tommy John surgery

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Rangers’ right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez is slated for Tommy John surgery, according to a report by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Gonzalez was placed on the 60-day disabled list back in early April with a partial UCL tear and was working towards a throwing program before getting sidelined with more elbow pain. He’s expected to miss the entirety of the 2018 season while recovering from the surgery.

This is the second straight season that has been derailed for Gonzalez due to injury. The 25-year-old starter pitched just 10 1/3 innings in 2016 after recovering from a torn UCL, and was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock to finish out the year after compiling an 8.71 ERA, 7.8 BB/9 and 6.1 SO/9 in three starts with the club. He showed more promise in Triple-A with a 4.70 ERA, 2.9 BB/9 and 5.9 SO/9 through 24 starts and 138 innings.

It’s a tough blow for the Rangers, who have seen Gonzalez healthy in just one major league season to date. General manager Jon Daniels told reporters that a recent MRI showed signs of weakening in the ligament, which disrupted the team’s plans to have the right-hander stick to a six- to eight-week recovery timetable after getting a platelet-rich plasma injection (via Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram). The surgery is expected to take place next week and will put Gonzalez’s earliest return date sometime in September 2018.