Jim Leyland’s club are doing their best to make sure there will be no September drama in the American League Central this year.
The Tigers notched their 12th consecutive victory tonight with a 10-3 win over the Indians at Progressive Field. It wrapped up a four-game sweep of Cleveland and extended their lead to seven games in the division.
Detroit scored six runs in the third inning, chasing Indians’ starter Zach McAllister from the ballgame. They added two more in the fourth and fifth innings, which was more than enough for Max Scherzer, who gave up two runs over seven innings to improve to 17-1 on the year. Yes, wins aren’t everything, but consider that no other pitcher in MLB has more than 14 of them right now. With a 2.84 ERA and 175 strikeouts over 158 1/3 innings, Scherzer is looking like the early leader in the clubhouse for the AL Cy Young Award.
The Indians had designs on making their move in the AL Central this week, but they were so thoroughly beaten down that Indians manager Terry Francona let position player Ryan Raburn pitch the ninth inning tonight. He actually delivered a 1-2-3 inning, including a swinging strikeout of Matt Tuiasosopo, but that was a minor highlight in an otherwise disappointing week for Cleveland.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.