Clay Buchholz on track for September 4 return

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Boston’s rotation is about to get a massive boost.

According to beat writer Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, right-hander Clay Buchholz is slated to make his first minor league rehab start on Sunday afternoon with Low-A Lowell and a second rehab start on Friday night. If both of those outings go well, he will likely be cleared to rejoin the Red Sox five days later — on September 4 — for the series finale of a big three-game set against the Detroit Tigers.

Buchholz opened the 2013 season with a 9-0 record, 1.71 ERA and 1.02 WHIP over his first 84 1/3 innings (12 starts), but he hasn’t pitched in a major league game since June 8 due to neck and shoulder issues.

The Red Sox are currently tied with the Rays atop the American League East standings.

Astros talking to Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole about extensions

Justin Verlander
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It’s extension season and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros — who already agreed to an extension with Alex Bregman — are discussing contract extensions with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Funny thing about Verlander, by the way: when he got his current $180 million deal, most people fell into the “oh, there’s an overpay!” column. What’s more, this past winter, when everyone was talking about how bad it is to give guys big long term deals, Verlander’s name was notably absent in the conversation despite the fact that his deal has turned out to be quite good. I suppose that says something about how good the anti-long-term deal folks are at cherrypicking.

That being said, Rosenthal says “it would be an upset” if either Verlander or Cole signed extensions. I can see that. Verlander is locked up this year and has a vesting option for 2020, and a lot can happen in a year or two. Cole is a Scott Boras client and Boras clients tend to hit the market rather than sign extensions. Perhaps their former teammate, Dallas Keuchel‘s, terrible experience on the free agent market this winter will alter that calculus. Hard to say.