King Felix and Prince Pineda? Mariners hand rotation spot to 22-year-old top prospect

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This morning’s news that the Mariners have optioned Luke French to Triple-A makes it all but official: Stud prospect Michael Pineda has secured a spot in the Opening Day rotation at age 22.

Pineda was big when the Mariners signed him out of the Dominican Republic as a 16-year-old in 2005, but now he’s listed at 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds. And he has the high-90s fastball and dominant results to match, splitting last season between Double-A and Triple-A while posting a 3.36 ERA and 154/34 K/BB ratio in 139 innings.

Last month Baseball America ranked him as the No. 16 prospect in all of baseball and Pineda apparently won the job with a 2.12 ERA and 15/6 K/BB ratio in 17 innings this spring.

Seattle’s offense may still be terrible this season and starting Pineda’s service time clock ticking seems like an iffy call, but the thought of Pineda developing into a top-of-the-rotation starter alongside the top-of-the-rotation starter Felix Hernandez should help Mariners fans get through the year in one piece.

Would it be too corny to call them King Felix and Prince Pineda?

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.