Derek Holland

Why not Derek Holland in Game 7?

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Thursday’s rainout put manager Ron Washington in a tough spot for his Game 7 starter: should he go with the guy he lined up for the outing, Matt Harrison, or the pitcher who looked far better in his one go against the Cardinals so far, Derek Holland?

Holland’s inconsistency is well noted. He finished tied with James Shields for the AL lead with four shutouts this season, yet his overall 3.95 ERA doesn’t match up to Harrison’s 3.39 mark. Still, Holland was the Rangers’ choice to start Game 2 in both the ALDS and ALCS before his struggles got him pushed back in the World Series rotation.

Holland, of course, threw 8 1/3 scoreless innings against the Cardinals in his Game 4 victory. Harrison gave up five runs — three earned — in 3 2/3 innings in losing Game 3.

Washington has already settled on Harrison for the possible Game 7. Here’s to hoping he did actually go and reevaluate the choice and not just make that call because that’s the way he set up the rotation in the first place. It’s certainly a defensible decision.

Holland had five starts during the regular season in which he went at least eight innings and allowed no more than one run. Here’s how he followed those up:

May 24: 4 ER in 4 IP vs. White Sox
June 9: 4 ER in 7 1/3 IP vs. Twins
July 14: 0 ER in 9 IP vs. Mariners
July 20: 7 ER in 5 1/3 IP vs. Angels
Aug. 5: 4 ER in 1 2/3 IP vs. Indians

Holland turned in back-to-back shutouts on July 7 & 14, but that surrounded the All-Star break and he was working on six days’ rest. Even including that outing, he had a 6.26 ERA in his five starts immediately after his best outings of the season.

If it were my call, I’d start Holland anyway. He’s more likely than Harrison to have a dominant outing, and if he doesn’t have it — something that’s usually clear pretty early when it comes to Holland — he can be yanked quickly. Harrison, though, is quite a bit better than he showed in Game 3, and he’ll probably give the Rangers five or six solid innings if allowed to do so.

The other plus in going with Harrison is that it allows the Rangers to put Holland in the bullpen for Game 6 tonight. And if things go well tonight, the Rangers won’t be needing a Game 7 starter anyway.

Yadier Molina gets cast removed from surgically-repaired thumb

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Norm Hall/Getty Images North America
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Yadier Molina underwent surgery to repair a ligament tear in his right thumb shortly after the Cardinals were eliminated from the NLDS by the Cubs, and then he needed a followup procedure two months later.

It’s been an offseason of rest and rehab for the seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glover, though he’s about ready to ramp up the intensity of workouts with the beginning of spring training approaching …

Brayan Pena was signed to a two-year, $5 million free agent contract this winter to provide more reliable depth behind the plate. He’ll be the Cardinals’ starter at catcher come Opening Day if Yadi isn’t quite ready.

Molina started a whopping 131 games behind the plate in 2015.

Jose Fernandez wants $30 million a year, Marlins don’t plan on paying

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Rob Foldy/Getty Images North America
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You’ve heard the stories by now. Jose Fernandez does not get along with Marlins management and is doubtful to sign a long-term contract with the team.

There’s still time for those relationships to be repaired — Fernandez can’t become a free agent until after the 2018 season — but we also have a monetary issue at play.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes Sunday that the Marlins are “under the impression” Fernandez and his representatives want $30 million per year on a long-term deal, a figure the Marlins “have no plans to meet.”

If the Marlins won’t pay, Fernandez and his reps will seek that number when the ace right-hander reaches free agency. That could be the same offseason Bryce Harper tries for $500 million.

A friend of Fernandez told Jackson that the 23-year-old native of Cuba was upset about some of the trades the Marlins made last summer and the removal of pitching coach Chuck Hernandez. You probably heard talk of Miami shopping Fernandez this winter, but the asking price was predictably sky-high.

Fernandez has been limited to 19 starts over the last two years because of Tommy John surgery and a biceps injury, but he boasts a stellar 2.40 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 10.5 K/9 in 289 career major league frames. He will make $2.8 million in 2016 and carries two more years of arbitration eligibility.

If he can put together a run of 30-start, 200-inning seasons, Fernandez will get that $30 million per year and probably much more.

Michael Brantley’s timetable off shoulder surgery is “hazy”

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Paul Hoynes at the Cleveland Plain Dealer has an in-depth look at how the Indians will manage their outfield during the early part of the 2016 season, in the absence of star Michael Brantley.

Brantley underwent labrum surgery on his right shoulder this past November and has not picked up a bat all winter. “In the off-season people know I love to hit,” Brantley acknowledged to Hoynes late last week. ”I hit a lot. It’s just been a change in my timetable.”

Hoynes says the projected date for Brantley’s 2016 debut is “hazy,” guessing that it might happen around late April or early May if everything continues to go smoothly. Shoulders can be tricky, for hitters and pitchers.

Rajai Davis, Abraham Almonte, and Lonnie Chisenhall figure to make up Cleveland’s primary starting outfield while Brantley is finishing his rehabilitation. Collin Cowgill and Joey Butler could also be in the mix. It’s a lacking group, tasked with replacing one of the most productive players in baseball.

Brantley, 28, has slashed .319/.382/.494 over the last two seasons, tallying 35 home runs, 90 doubles, 181 RBI, and 38 stolen bases in 293 games.

Could the talented Tribe be in for another slow start?

Shouldn’t this club be spending more money?

Jose Bautista had a courtside view of Saturday night’s epic NBA Slam Dunk Contest

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Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic put on a tremendous show in Saturday night’s NBA Slam Dunk Contest up in Toronto, Canada. The stars were out to see it at the Air Canada Centre, and Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista had one of the very best views in the house. Check out this video he posted to Instagram of LaVine’s final dunk, a between-the-legs jam from just inside the free throw line …

Its a wrap!!! #BackToBack #SlamDunk #Champion @zachlavine8 🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽

A video posted by Jose Bautista (@joeybats19) on

That is Toronto’s very own Drake going wild in the pink jacket. Gordon probably had the best individual dunk of the night, though, if we’re being really real …

Back to your regularly scheduled baseball programming. Pitchers and catchers report Friday.