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Junior Guerra is the Brewers’ Opening Day starter

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Right-hander Junior Guerra will make his first Opening Day start for the Brewers next month, according to a team announcement on Saturday. The veteran righty pitched his first full season of big league ball in 2016 and continued to impress in camp with a 1.80 ERA and a working split-finger fastball.

Guerra, 32, spent the better part of the last decade working his way through various farm systems and independent leagues before landing a major league gig with the White Sox in 2015. He was thrust into the bullpen for a three-game stint, then converted to a starting role in the Brewers’ rotation after getting picked up on waivers in the fall of 2015.

In 2016, he surprised the Brewers with a 2.81 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 121 2/3 innings, emerging as one of the steadier arms on their pitching staff and making a compelling case for an encore performance in 2017. According to Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell, some of the right-hander’s success hinged on the split-finger fastball that he’d been developing over the last several years. Via FOX Sports Wisconsin:

The split-finger, which is really the pitch that makes him dangerous, it by nature that pitch takes a while to get going. It’s a difficult pitch, that’s why a lot of guys don’t throw it,” Counsell said. “In the age of trying to get a swing-and-miss, it’s a big swing-and-miss pitch if you can master it, if you can get a feel for it and get a handle on it.

Guerra is set to take the mound for the Brewers during their home opener against the Rockies on April 3.

Yankees acquire A.J. Cole from the Nats

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The New York Yankees have acquired reliever A.J. Cole from the Washington Nationals for cash considerations.

Cole was supposed to be the Nats’ fifth starter this year but that didn’t work out too well. He pitched in four games for the Nats, starting two, to the tune of a 13.06 ERA, having given up six home runs in 10.1 innings. That’s . . . something.

Don’t get too used to Cole on the New York roster, as this seems like one of those “give us an arm” for a couple of days deals, after which Cole will be DFA’d and will either accept an assignment to Scranton or be cut loose. Such is life at the fringes for a guy who is out of minor league options.