Nationals express interest in Astros' Oswalt

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oswalt sitting.jpgBill Ladson of MLB.com reports that the Nationals have expressed interest in trading for Astros right-hander Roy Oswalt, who requested a trade last week.

The Nats are off to their best start since 2005 with a 22-22 record, but that might not be enough to attract the 32-year-old Oswalt.  He’s aiming to hook up with a contender and try for a World Series ring, and his no-trade clause will allow him to pick and choose from a variety of interested teams.  It would be a shock if he’s traded before the end of May (or even June) and plenty of other contending clubs are expected to dial the number of Nats GM Mike Rizzo before this saga is through.

That said, it does make some sense.  Stephen Strasburg is shooting his way through the Nationals’ farm system and it would be fantastic to have a stand-up veteran like Oswalt in the clubhouse to keep the kid grounded and focused. 

Oswalt has a lousy 2-6 record this season through nine starts despite an ERA of 2.66 and a WHIP of 1.07.  He has also fanned 60 batters in 61 innings for the Astros, who are in last place in the NL Central.

Dodgers plan to tab Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of World Series

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.

Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.

Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.

Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.

The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.