Nolan Ryan in favor of realignment moving Astros to AL West

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Count Nolan Ryan among those in favor of MLB’s rumored realignment to matching 15-team leagues, as the Rangers team president said yesterday that he’d love to see the Astros join the Rangers in the American League West.

Ryan noted that having another Central Time Zone team in the division would be nice from a travel and television ratings point of view and opined that “having the Astros and the Rangers in the same pennant race would really stimulate interest in baseball in the state of Texas.”

Most speculation about potential realignment plans lists the Astros among the leading candidates to switch leagues and it makes sense to have a franchise from the six-team NL Central move to the four-team AL West if the shakeup does happen.

Braves release James Loney

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Just a few days after inking him to a minor league deal, the Braves have released first baseman James Loney, the team announced on Monday. Loney became expendable when the Braves acquired Matt Adams from the Cardinals on Saturday as a replacement for the injured Freddie Freeman.

Loney, 33, appeared in two games at Triple-A Gwinnett. He had one hit, a single, and one walk in eight plate appearances.

Loney will likely have to wait for another team to deal with an injured first baseman or DH before he can secure another contract.

Ian Kinsler lists the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central

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Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.

Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list

Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.