Orioles name Jason Hammel as Opening Day starter

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Jason Hammel had the most effective season of his career after being traded to Baltimore, posting a 3.43 ERA in 20 starts, and the Orioles announced that he’ll get the Opening Day start this season.

Hammel missed nearly the entire second half with a knee injury, but he’s healthy now and was a pretty easy choice for the Game 1 assignment.

Last year’s Opening Day starter was Jake Arrieta, who ended up going 3-9 with a 6.20 ERA. So if nothing else Hammel doesn’t exactly have big shoes to fill.

Yankees, Mariners expressing interest in J.A. Happ

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Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the Yankees and Mariners are both expressing interest in Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ.

Happ is posting a 3.48 ERA and a 94/25 K/BB ratio in 82.2 innings across 14 starts and has been stingy with the hits as well. Between that, the Blue Jays’ lack of contention and the fact that Happ is in the walk year of his three-year, $36 million deal, all signs point to the Jays trading them.

In normal circumstances you might not expect the Jays to make a trade with the Yankees, but at this point it sort of doesn’t matter, does it? It’s not like Happ in New York on a couple month rental will impact the 2018 Jays too much. And, given his pending free agency, it’s not extraordinarily likely that he’d haunt the Jays from the Bronx long term either.

There’s not a ton of elite pitching currently available, but as the trade deadline approaches — a little over a month to go on that score — the talk about Happ, Cole Hamels, Francisco Liriano and others will heat up. Figure the Yankees will be linked with any and all available starters.