It’s a pitching duel between a 23-year-old rookie and a 30-year-old veteran in Game 2 of the ALDS between the Athletics and Tigers. A’s rookie Sonny Gray has shut out the Tigers through four innings, using a mid-90’s fastball and a knee-bending curve to keep Tiger hitters at bay. Thus far, he has struck out five while surrendering just two hits: one to Miguel Cabrera in the first, and an infield single to Don Kelly in the second. As of this posting, he has retired seven consecutive Tigers in a row. One thing to keep an eye on: he has thrown 63 pitches thus far.
Verlander, however, has been even better. He ended the regular season on a high note and appears to have brought it with him into the post-season. Through four frames, he has allowed just one hit — a two-out single up the middle by Josh Donaldson. Prior to that hit, Verlander retired the first 11 Athletics he faced. Overall, Verlander has struck out seven (and six of the seven A’s to have struck out have gone down looking). He is at 69 pitches through four innings.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that the Giants were “sniffing around” on Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco at the recently completed Winter Meetings.
Franco, 25, would be a nice buy-low candidate for the Giants, who don’t have a reliable third baseman yet. Currently, Pablo Sandoval would get the lion’s share of starts at the hot corner. Franco was a consensus top-100 prospect going into the 2014 and ’15 seasons, but hasn’t lived up to the hype over the last two seasons. In 2017, he hit .230/.281/.409 with 24 home runs and 76 RBI in 623 plate appearances.
Moving Franco wouldn’t necessarily solve any problems for the Phillies. After signing first baseman Carlos Santana, Rhys Hoskins is expected to play in the outfield full-time. As a result, the Phillies have too many outfielders with Odubel Herrera, Nick Williams, and Aaron Altherr. Technically, the Phillies could move Santana to third base as he has experience there, but he hasn’t played the hot corner since 2014.
Franco is arbitration eligible over the next four seasons, which might be the most attractive thing about him to other teams.