Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw will earn the pitching Triple Crown

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The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw furthered his Cy Young case on Sunday by allowing two runs over 7 1/3 innings and beating the Padres in his final start of the year.

Kershaw tied Ian Kennedy, who made his last start Saturday, for the NL lead with 21 wins.

Justin Verlander has 24 wins in the AL, so this is the first year since 2005 that at least three starters have won 21 games.

Already the NL leader in ERA and strikeouts, Kershaw virtually clinched the pitching Triple Crown today.  He ends the year with a 2.28 ERA and 248 strikeouts.  Roy Halladay also started today and pitched six scoreless innings, lowering his ERA from 2.41 to 2.35.  Cliff Lee, who has a 2.38 ERA going into his start against the Braves on Monday, would have to pitch at least 10 2/3 scoreless innings or strike out at least 17 batters to deny Kershaw titles in either category.  While a 17-strikeout game for Lee wouldn’t be an impossible under normal circumstances, there’s no way he’s getting there while on a pitch count in his final start before the NLDS.

That pitching Triple Crown figures to notch Kershaw the Cy Young Award, whether it’s truly deserved or not.  There are strong cases for Halladay and Lee as well, especially since both pitch in a better ballpark for hitters, but even after digging into the deeper stats, Kershaw still fares quite well.

Phillies sign outfielder Michael Saunders

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 3: Michael Saunders #21 of the Toronto Blue Jays runs to first after being walked during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 3, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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The Phillies have signed free agent outfielder Michael Saunders.

Saunders was an All-Star in 2016 due to his wonderful start, but he cratered in the second half of the season. Overall is numbers looked good — he hit 24 homers and posted a line of .253/.338/.478, but his second half line was .178/.282/.357 in 58 games. He’s not the best defender around either.

The Phillies could use him, however, and if he has another red hot first half, there’s a decent chance they could flip him if they wanted to.

Jose Bautista and the Blue Jays nearing a two-year, $35-40 million deal

Toronto Blue Jays Jose Bautista flips his bat after hitting a three-run homer during seventh inning game 5 American League Division Series baseball action in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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It was first reported that the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista were close to a deal last night. Now Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is near completion. It will likely a two-year contract in the $35-40 million range.

Bautista had a tough 2016, hitting .234/.366/.452 with 22 home runs and 69 RBI, and some clubs likely considered a long-term deal for the 36-year-old too risky, this leading to the relative lack of reported interest in Bautista by other clubs. But back-to-back ALCS appearances by the Jays and the success and popularity Bautista has experienced in Toronto make his re-signing there a pretty sensible move for all involved.

The Jays, who already lost Edwin Encarnacion to free agency, get their slugger back on a short term deal. Unlike anyone else, they don’t have to give up the draft pick attached to him via the qualifying offer. Bautista, in turn, will make, on average, more than he would’ve made on the qualifying offer if he would’ve accepted it and a raise over the $14 million he made in 2016.