Phillies “in serious talks” with Astros for Wilton Lopez

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Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that the Phillies are “in serious talks” with the Astros for right-hander Wilton Lopez, who would take over as the primary setup man in front of closer Jonathan Papelbon.

Lopez’s price tag won’t be cheap, as he’s thrown 204 innings with a 2.64 ERA during the past three seasons, remains bargain-priced entering his first year of arbitration eligibility at age 29, and is under team control through 2015.

Lopez saved 10 games after taking over for Brett Myers as the Astros’ closer down the stretch and posted a fantastic 54/8 K/BB ratio in 66 innings overall this year while allowing just four homers in 260 plate appearances. His fastball averaged 92.4 miles per hour and he was among the league leaders in ground-ball percentage.

No word yet on what the Astros would get in return, but it’s a safe bet they’re targeting prospects rather than big leaguers.

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.