If they can’t keep Carlos Ruiz, the Phillies may go after A.J. Pierzynski

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Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports that the Phillies are making A.J. Pierzynski their top target if they can’t reach a deal with Carlos Ruiz.

Which isn’t going to make a ton of Phillies fans happy given how popular Ruiz is and how polarizing a figure Pierzynski is. Still, he’s not horrible as fallback options go. Pierzynski hit .272/.297/.425 with 17 home runs and 70 RBI in 134 games this past season and at age 37 would not likely be looking at a long term deal. He’d be the catching Marlon Byrd, right?

This would also be a good signing for Fox. They like to use Pierzynski for their postseason coverage and, if he signs in Philly, they can be guaranteed that he’ll be free come the first of October. Total win-win.

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.