Report: The Cubs have made signing right-hander Masahiro Tanaka a “top priority”

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We already know the Yankees are interested in Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, but they are going to have plenty of competition.

Phil Rogers of MLB.com was told by sources that Tanaka has become a “top priority” for the Cubs’ front office. The club is expected to have a large contingent in attendance to watch him pitch in the Japan Series, which begins this weekend.

Regarded as the best pitcher in Japan, Tanaka has been on an incredible run this season, going 24-0 with a a 1.27 ERA and 183/32 K/BB ratio over 212 regular season innings. The 24-year-old has remained undefeated during the postseason, including a seven-hit shutout earlier this month.

Tanaka’s team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, are expected to make him available via the posting process once the Japan Series is over. The thought is that the bidding could rival the $51,703,411 fee the Rangers paid to secure exclusive negotiating rights with Yu Darvish two offseasons ago. The two sides eventually agreed to a six-year, $56 million contract.

Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal to be examined for arm tightness

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Cardinal closer Trevor Rosenthal was taken out of last night’s game against the Red Sox after he gave up a big homer and a walk. He velocity was down as well, and Mike Mathney said after the game that he didn’t look right. Now the Cardinals are going to take a closer look at him, and he’ll be examined today for what is being described as “tightness” in his right arm.

Rosenthal is 3-4 with a 3.40 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 76/20 in 47.2 innings. He has 11 saves after regaining the closer’s job from Seung Hwan Oh. Now some combination of Oh, Tyler Lyons, and John Brebbia will fill in for Rosenthal to the extent he needs to miss time.

Aaron Judge broke a dubious record last night

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Aaron Judge hit a monster home run in last night’s win over the Mets, but he also set a dubious record. Judge struck out for the 33rd consecutive game, setting a new mark for a position player in a single season.

Yes, that’s qualified. No pitchers, of course, as I assume many of them have struck out in more than 33 straight games. Also,  Adam Dunn once struck out in 36 straight games, but that straddled two seasons: he struck out in the final four games of 2011 and the first 32 games of 2012. Still, Judge’s feat is impressive, and given the nature of his game and the state of baseball these days, it’s not hard to imagine him striking out in three or four more straight games anyway.

None of which, by the way, should be all that much of a slight on Judge. The guy is still hitting .291/.420/.614, even with his second half slump. If I was a manager I’d happily accept his whiffs in exchange for everything else he brings to the table. It’s not 1959 anymore, and strikeouts are not the worst thing that can happen.