Francisco Liriano and his filthy slider are dominating again

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Francisco Liriano followed up his Comeback Player of the Year-winning campaign with the Pirates last year with some rough patches this season, but now the 30-year-old left-hander is once again dominating lineups.

Liriano shut out the Phillies for eight innings Thursday night, racking up 12 strikeouts and totaling 25 swinging strikes on 106 pitches. He also shut out the Cubs for six innings in his last start and, dating back to May 30, he’s got a 2.49 ERA with 103 strikeouts in 87 innings while holding opponents to a .192 batting average.

Liriano’s win-loss record remains ugly and his ERA is about a half-run higher than last season, but he’s actually striking out more batters (10.0 vs. 9.1 per nine innings) and allowing a lower batting average against (.222 vs. .224). His control comes and goes, but that slider remains wicked at all times and few pitchers can miss bats quite like Liriano.

Cardinals option Aledmys Diaz to Triple-A

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The Cardinals announced on Wednesday that shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been optioned to Triple-A Memphis and infielder Alex Mejia’s contract has been purchased from Memphis.

Diaz, 26, impressed last season when he posted an .879 OPS and finished fifth in National League Rookie of the Year balloting. This year has been rough on Diaz, as he’s batting .260/.293/.396 with seven home runs and 20 RBI in 288 plate appearances. He’s the second major Cardinals player to get sent down to the minors along with Randal Grichuk.

Diaz was surprised by the demotion. Via MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch:

Mejia, 26, opened the season with Double-A Springfield but was promoted to Triple-A two weeks ago. With Springfield, he hit .251/.305/.366 in 251 PA. In 42 PA with Memphis, he hit .263/.333/.289.

Report: Red Sox, Yankees have contacted Marlins about Martin Prado

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With just over a month to go before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, trade rumors are beginning to crop up. According to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports, the Red Sox and Yankees have each reached out to the Marlins about infielder Martin Prado.

The Marlins enter play Wednesday 35-40 and in third place in the NL East. They are expected to continue to sell after trading shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria to the Rays. However, as the club itself is in the middle of rumors with a handful of prospective new owners, major pieces like Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich probably won’t be moved until that is settled.

Prado, 33, is hitting .277/.299/.398 with two home runs and nine RBI in 87 plate appearances. He has played in only 21 games due to calf and hamstring injuries. When he’s healthy, though, he is typically productive and he can play all four infield positions as well as the outfield corners. Prado is under contract for the next two seasons as well, at $13.5 million and $15 million.

With either the Red Sox or Yankees, Prado would likely assume third base. The Red Sox have gotten a major league-worst .562 out of its third basemen while the Yankees have gotten a .678 OPS, 24th out of 30 teams.