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.

CC Sabathia wants to return to the Yankees in 2018

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CC Sabathia‘s contract is set to expire this offseason, but for the long-tenured left-hander, nowhere feels more like home than New York. “I want to see this through,” Sabathia told reporters after a devastating Game 7 loss in the ALCS. “This is where I want to play.” Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman spoke warmly of the veteran starter, but would make no public guarantees that he’d return to the team next spring.

Sabathia, 37, just topped off his 17th season in the big leagues and his eighth career postseason run. He went 14-5 in 27 starts and put up a 3.69 ERA, 3.0 BB/9 and 7.3 SO/9 in 148 2/3 innings, good for 1.9 fWAR. He looked solid in the playoffs, too, propelling the team to a much-needed win in Game 5 of the ALDS and returning in the Championship Series with six scoreless innings in Game 3. His season ended on a sour note during Game 7, however. He lasted just 3 1/3 innings against a dynamic Astros’ offense, allowing one run on five hits and three walks and failing to record a single strikeout for the first time in 23 career postseason appearances.

Heading into the 2017 offseason, Sabathia finally arrived at the end of his seven-year, $161 million deal with the Yankees. While he’s repeatedly expressed a desire to keep pitching, despite rumors that his career might be on the rocks following the diagnosis of a troublesome degenerative knee condition, the decision isn’t his alone to make. Brian Cashman will also be seeking an extension with the Yankees this winter, so it’s difficult to say which impending free agents the club will try to retain — and Sabathia’s name isn’t the only one on that list. If it were up to skipper Joe Girardi, who is awaiting a decision on his own future with the organization, the decision would be a no-brainer. From MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:

CC will always be special to me because of what he stands for and the great player that he is, the great man that he is,” Girardi said. “The wonderful teammate that he is. How he pulls a team together. He’s as good as I’ve ever been around when it comes to a clubhouse guy, a guy that will take the ball when you’re on a losing streak or that you can count on, and knowing that it could be the possible last time.