Clint Hurdle, Marlon Byrd, Dusty Baker, Mark Carlson, Gerry Davis

National League Wild Card Game: Reds-Pirates lineups

21 Comments

Here are the lineups for tonight’s National League Wild Card Game between the Reds and Pirates, in Pittsburgh:

Reds:
CF Shin-Soo Choo
LF Ryan Ludwick
1B Joey Votto
2B Brandon Phillips
RF Jay Bruce
3B Todd Frazier
SS Zack Cozart
C Ryan Hanigan
SP Johnny Cueto

Ryan Ludwick only drew three starts as the No. 2 hitter all season, but they were in the final three games of the year and with left-hander Francisco Liriano on the mound manager Dusty Baker no doubt wanted a right-handed bat with some pop between lefties Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto. Zack Cozart, who was the primary No. 2 hitter for the Reds this season despite a ghastly .284 on-base percentage, is now hitting seventh.

Pirates:
LF Starling Marte
2B Neil Walker
CF Andrew McCutchen
1B Justin Morneau
RF Marlon Byrd
3B Pedro Alvarez
C Russell Martin
SS Clint Barmes
SP Francisco Liriano

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle is going with his standard late-season lineup, which includes Starling Marte starting in left field and leading off and trade pickups Justin Morneau and Marlon Byrd in the 4-5 spots. Overall this season the Pirates’ most-used cleanup hitters were Garrett Jones and Pedro Alvarez, but Jones is on the bench in favor of Morneau and Alvarez is down in the sixth spot.

Shohei Otani may come to the United States after 2017

shohei-otani
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?

Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.

It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.

Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
1 Comment

Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.

Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.

The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.