The Yankees gotta get Alex Rodriguez out of the three hole

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I’m not going to go all “blame A-Rod” here. The fact is that baseball’s active home run leader wasn’t half bad on Monday night. He lined into a double play in his first at-bat, but that as just bad luck: the ball was scalded. He had a clean single his second time up.

Of course, that was pretty much it. Rodriguez went up to the plate three more times: he flied out in the fifth and then struck out in the seventh and ninth. The second strikeout ended the game as the Orioles won 3-2 to even the best-of-five series.

In all, Rodriguez has five strikeouts to go along with his single and a walk in 10 plate appearances against the Orioles. He did finish the regular season okay, going 6-for-15 with four walks and three strikeouts in his last four games. However, he was in a 2-for-24 slump before that. He has one extra-base since Sept. 14 and one RBI since Sept. 19.

In short, Rodriguez looks like the easiest out in the Yankees lineup right now. He’s not getting around on good fastballs, and when he does get a mistake breaking ball, he’s not driving it out of the park. It’s not that Rodriguez can’t hit in the playoffs or needs to be benched or any of that nonsense. It’s just that with the way he looks right now — and with the way he’s looked pretty much the whole year — he’s probably more of a No. 6 hitter than a guy who should be hitting ahead of Robinson Cano. Switching him and Mark Teixeira would make a lot of sense.

Jon Gray will start Opening Day for the Rockies

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Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.

Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.

The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.

Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.

Blake Treinen named Nationals closer

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Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.

There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.

Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.