yu darvish reuters

Yu Darvish will be skipped from his final first-half start

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T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com provides the scoop:

The Rangers have decided to not pitch Yu Darvish until after the All-Star break.

The Rangers have decided that Martin Perez will pitch on Friday and Derek Holland will pitch on Saturday against the Twins. Holland will be activated off the disabled list. The Rangers haven’t decided their second half rotation yet.

It’s not a health thing nor an endurance thing — Darvish threw over 230 innings last year in Japan.

It’s just a little extra rest for a guy who commanded a total commitment of $112 million this past winter.

Darvish has posted a cool 3.59 ERA and 1.36 WHIP through the first 16 starts of his major league career, fanning 117 batters and walking 53 in 102 2/3 innings.  The 25-year-old native of Japan has all the weapons to be great, and the Rangers have to be pleased with their investment thus far. He is currently leading the American League All-Star team’s “Final Vote” balloting. David Freese is tops in the National League.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.