Your cleanup hitters tonight: Matt Diaz and Wilson Ramos

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The Pirates and Nationals have released their lineups for Monday’s much-anticipated matchup in Washington, and those fortunate enough to be there will have the pleasure of seeing Matt Diaz and Wilson Ramos cleaning up for their teams.

It should be an epic showdown.  One-quarter of the way through the season, Diaz is hitting .239/.260/.310 with no homers and five RBI in 71 at-bats.  Like a true No. 4 hitter, though, he always makes an effort to bring in those baserunners: he’s walked just one time all year.

In the grand tradition of Mike Piazza and Buster Posey, Ramos is one of the very few rookie catchers to serve as a cleanup man.  He’s outslugged Diaz with a .267/.333/.419 line, and he has two homers and seven RBI in his 86 at-bats this season.  Of course, he is off to a 4-for-33 start this month, but that probably just means he’s due.

So forget about the Yankees-Rays and Phillies-Cardinals.  Watch the titans face off in D.C. tonight.  You won’t regret it.

Aaron Hicks to go on the disabled list with an oblique injury

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.

Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.

Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.

Report: Phillies making Maikel Franco available in trade discussions

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Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Phillies are making third baseman Maikel Franco “more than available” in trade discussions.

Franco, 24, is having an abysmal season after showing promise in 2015 and ’16. Through 289 plate appearances, he’s hitting .221/.280/.365 with nine home runs and 37 RBI. His hitting has tanked and his already below-average defense hasn’t shown any improvement.

It’s a bit surprising that the Phillies would be so eager to move Franco with his value about as low as it can go. Franco is also under control of the rebuilding Phillies through the 2021 season, so the team doesn’t have to rush into moving him. He will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the season.

Furthermore, the Phillies don’t have an immediate replacement for Franco at third base. Andres Blanco would likely get everyday starts at the hot corner in the short-term, but as far as prospects go, there are no third baseman banging down the door. If the Phillies were to trade Franco, it would likely have to be in return for a young, talented third baseman who will be under team control for several more years.