UPDATE: It’s official, Zito will start Game 1.
There’s no official word yet on the Giants’ rotation for the World Series, but Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com reports that Barry Zito is likely to get the call for Game 1 against the Tigers.
He’d face Justin Verlander in a matchup of former Cy Young winners (which sounds perfectly normal except for the part about Zito winning his in 2002).
That represents a helluva turnaround for a guy who was left off the postseason roster during the Giants’ run to the World Series in 2010, but Zito came up huge with 7.2 shutout innings in Game 5 of the NLCS and according to Baggarly “word around the team is that Zito deserves the honor.”
Zito struggled against right-handed hitters all season, allowing them to bat .281 with an .823 OPS (compared to .209 with a .559 OPS versus lefties), so matching up with a Detroit lineup that includes righties Miguel Cabrera, Austin Jackson, Delmon Young, Jhonny Peralta, Omar Infante, and Avisail Garcia isn’t ideal. Of course, the same was even more true of a Cardinals lineup filled with good right-handed bats and Zito shut them down.
Infielder Brett Lawrie successfully avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, per a team announcement. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that the deal was for $3.5 million, significantly lower than the $4.125 million Lawrie was paid by the White Sox in 2016.
The White Sox acquired Lawrie last December in a swap for minor league arms Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. After splitting time at second and third base for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie slotted in at second base and DH for the White Sox and batted .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs in 384 PA. While it’s strange to see a healthy, fairly productive player receive a salary reduction in arbitration, Lawrie missed nearly half of the season with a strain in his left hamstring, though he’s projected to return at full health by the start of the 2017 season.
Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.
The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.
The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.