Bill Baer

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 10:  Ryan Howard #6 of the Philadelphia Phillies follows through on a 3 RBI double in the ninth inning off of Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on August 10,  2016 in Los Angeles, California. Phillies won 6-2.  (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Phillies’ Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz cleared waivers

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ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and catcher Carlos Ruiz have both cleared waivers, which means the club can attempt to trade either player unimpeded. Stark adds that two teams are mulling a pursuit of Ruiz, but Howard is “virtually certain” to stay with the Phillies.

Howard, 36, has unimpressive overall stats, as he’s carrying a .198/.252/.445 triple-slash line with 19 home runs and 43 RBI in 286 plate appearances. The Phillies have limited Howard to right-handed pitching by platooning him with Tommy Joseph.

Shockingly, Howard has been one of the best hitters of the second half, as Corinne Landrey explains at FanGraphs. Using wRC+, an all encompassing offensive statistic that sets 100 at average, only Joey Votto has been a more productive hitter since the All-Star break, owning a 226 wRC+ to Howard’s 191. Howard is trailed by Freddie Freeman (179), Adrian Gonzalez (149), and Paul Goldschmidt (140).

Howard is owed the remainder of his $25 million salary for the 2016 season as well as a $10 million buyout for ’17. Despite Howard’s productive second half and even if the Phillies were to cover all of the remaining money owed, there won’t be much of a market for an inconsistent 1B/DH in his mid-30’s who can’t field, can’t run, and can’t hit left-handed pitching.

Ruiz, 37, has had a solid season, batting .261/.368/.352 in 193 plate appearances. Like Howard, Ruiz has lost playing time at his primary position to a younger player — Cameron Rupp, in this case. Ruiz is owed the remainder of his $8.5 million salary and is under contract next season if his controlling club picks up his $4.5 million option. That option may make him even more attractive to interested clubs, as Ruiz is still a valuable catcher. He has accrued 1.3 Wins Above Replacement despite limited playing time and has a reputation for working well with his pitchers. A playoff-bound club could do a lot worse.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Wednesday’s action

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 7:  Rich Hill #18 of the Oakland Athletics pitches in the second inning during game one of a double header baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 7, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
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Rich Hill will come off of the disabled list and make his Dodgers debut on Wednesday evening in a home start against the Giants at 10:10 PM EDT. The Dodgers acquired Hill along with outfielder Josh Reddick from the Athletics ahead of the August 1 non-waiver trade deadline, sending Frankie Montas, Jharel Cotton, and Grant Holmes to Oakland. Hill, however, was bothered by a severe blister on his throwing hand, which has kept him out of action since July 17.

Prior to the injury, the 36-year-old Hill compiled a 2.25 ERA with a 90/28 K/BB ratio in 76 innings spanning 14 starts. He has continued a late-career rebirth. After battling injuries and ineffectiveness from 2008-15, which even took him to the independent Atlantic League, Hill popped back up on the map with four strong September starts for the Red Sox last season, yielding just five runs on 14 hits and five walks with 36 strikeouts in 29 innings.

Hill, if he can remain healthy, will be important rotation insurance for the Dodgers, who have been ravaged by injuries all season. Hill will become the 14th different starter and the 30th pitcher overall the club has used this season along with 22 position players. With starter Scott Kazmir landing on the disabled list recently, the Dodgers tied a major league record with 27 different players on the disabled list this season.

Despite the injuries, the Dodgers go into tonight’s game against the second-place Giants with a two game lead in the NL West.

The rest of Wednesday evening’s action…

Baltimore Orioles (Wade Miley) @ Washington Nationals (Tanner Roark), 7:05 PM EDT

Los Angeles Angels (Matt Shoemaker) @ Toronto Blue Jays (Marco Estrada), 7:07 PM EDT

Boston Red Sox (Rick Porcello) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Matt Andriese), 7:10 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals (Dillon Gee) @ Miami Marlins (Jose Fernandez), 7:10 PM EDT

Texas Rangers (Yu Darvish) @ Cincinnati Reds (Tim Adleman), 7:10 PM EDT

Detroit Tigers (Matt Boyd) @ Minnesota Twins (Tyler Duffey), 8:10 PM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies (Jerad Eickhoff) @ Chicago White Sox (James Shields), 8:10 PM EDT

New York Mets (Jacob deGrom) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Carlos Martinez), 8:15 PM EDT

Atlanta Braves (Julio Teheran) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (Zack Greinke), 9:40 PM EDT

Diamondbacks expect to activate A.J. Pollock by the end of the week

PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 15:  A.J. Pollock #11 of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits a three-run home run against the San Diego Padres during the seventh inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on September 15, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
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Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said the club expects to activate outfielder A.J. Pollock by the end of the week, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports.

Pollock, 28, has been out all season with a fractured elbow suffered in an exhibition game against the Royals just before the start of the regular season. He also dealt with an oblique injury during his rehab this month. The 51-73 Diamondbacks don’t have any hope of reaching the postseason, but Pollock can still get back into the swing of things in preparation for the 2017 season.

Last season, Pollock was an All-Star, batting .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, 111 runs scored, and 39 stolen bases in 673 plate appearances.