– Francisco Liriano will attempt to build on a strong effort against the Royals when he faces the AL wild card-leading Rangers in Texas. It will be his second start in Arlington in a month, as he allowed three runs — two earned — in six innings in a no-decision on July 19. The Rangers will counter with Tommy Hunter, who just shut out the Indians for 7 2/3 innings last time out. The 2007 supplemental first-round pick is 5-2 with a 2.26 ERA.
– Ted Lilly will rejoin the Cubs’ rotation tonight after missing four starts due to left shoulder inflammation and a knee injury that required minor surgery. It looks like he’ll be able to ease back into action against a Padres team that has been especially weak against left-handers (.229/.300/.368). Lilly is 5-2 with a 3.55 ERA against San Diego in his career.
Game of the Night
St. Louis vs. Los Angeles – The NL’s two winningest teams will begin a three-game series with a rather lopsided pitching matchup. Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter is 12-3 with a 2.27 ERA that ranks second in the majors. Dodgers knuckleballer Charlie Haeger is 1-2 with a 6.35 ERA in a career that includes one start and 18 relief appearances. It will be his debut for the team after he went 11-6 with a very impressive 3.55 ERA for Triple-A Albuquerque. Away from the offensive paradise the Isotopes play in half of the time, he had a 2.44 ERA.
Free agent third baseman Mike Moustakas is drawing interest from at least four clubs, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported Friday. The Brewers are the presumed frontrunners to land the infielder, but Heyman adds that the Angels may take the inside edge as Moustakas hails from the San Fernando Valley and has invested in charity efforts in California over the last year. The Phillies and Padres, on the other hand, have been involved to a lesser degree as they’re both thought to be in hot pursuit of fellow free agent third baseman/shortstop Manny Machado, though their interest in the veteran Moustakas could ramp right back up should they lose out on Machado in the weeks to come.
Moustakas, 30, declined a $15 million mutual option with the Brewers at the end of the 2018 season, and like many others left on the market, has yet to find a landing spot in advance of spring training. While he’s several years removed from his last All-Star performance, he ran a decent campaign with the Royals and Brewers last year, slashing a combined .251/.315/.459 with 28 home runs, a .774 OPS, and 2.4 fWAR across 635 plate appearances.
He certainly appears to be a fit in Anaheim, where he could supplant Zack Cozart at the hot corner and balance out the Angels’ right-heavy lineup alongside Kole Calhoun, Justin Bour, and Tommy La Stella. Even if the Angels have serious interest in the third baseman, however, they’re likely to wait and see what kind of contract Machado (and the as-yet unsigned Bryce Harper) fetches before extending any serious offers of their own. They’re far from the only club to use the four-time All-Star as a litmus test this offseason, which has only fueled a growing unrest among MLB players who believe that more serious action — such as a midseason walk-out or a league-wide strike — will need to be taken over the next few months.