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Astros, Wandy Rodriguez agree to three-year, $34 million extension


Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reports that the Astros and left-hander Wandy Rodriguez have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a three-year, $34 million contract extension.

The deal also includes a vesting option for 2014 which could net him as much as $44.5 million, according to Alyson Footer, Sr. Director of Social Media for the Astros. Rodriguez, who turned 32 last week, was arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter, so the Astros have at least bought out his first two years of free agency.

Rodriguez has a 4.18 ERA over his first six seasons in the major leagues, but while he doesn’t look like a front-line starter on paper, only 10 pitchers (with more than 500 innings pitched) have a lower ERA since the start of the 2008 season.

1. Roy Halladay – 2.67 ERA

2. Adam Wainwright – 2.68 ERA

3. Felix Hernandez – 2.69 ERA

4. Tim Lincecum – 2.83 ERA

5. Johan Santana – 2.85 ERA

6. Cliff Lee – 2.98 ERA

7. CC Sabathia – 3.07 ERA

8. Zack Greinke – 3.25 ERA

9. Matt Cain – 3.27 ERA

10. Jon Lester – 3.29 ERA

11. Wandy Rodriguez – 3.36 ERA

Rodriguez figures to be a big part of the rebuilding process in Houston — and with Brett Myers, J.A. Happ, Bud Norris and (eventually) top prospect Jordan Lyles, they may actually be better than you think  — but this contract isn’t necessarily something that would scare off another club should they decide to explore a trade sometime down the road.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.

The Cardinals are optimistic about Yadier Molina’s status

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina‘s bum thumb responded well after participating in baseball activities Tuesday, including catching, hitting, blocking balls and the like.

This morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he’s now even more optimistic that Molina will be on the NLDS roster. The Cards’ first game will be Friday against the winner of tonight’s Cubs-Pirates tilt.

Having Molina would obviously be a boon for the Cardinals on the field. For a look at what Molina means to the Cardinals off the field, however, take some time to go read Derrick Goold’s excellent story about what Molina’s teammates think of him. Short version: the world. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not a citizen of Cardinals Nation.