Astros recall Lance McCullers for Sunday finale against the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw

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Astros right-hander Lance McCullers was optioned to Double-A Corpus Christi on August 3 after failing to make it out of the first inning in a disastrous start against the Rangers. Houston’s braintrust wanted the 21-year-old to take a breather and come back ready to assist in the club’s final push for its first ever American League West title. That push is now on.

McCullers — owner of a cool 3.17 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 79 strikeouts over his first 76 2/3 major league frames — has been recalled from the Double-A level and will start against Clayton Kershaw in Sunday’s series finale against the visiting Dodgers.

Houston got to Zack Greinke on Saturday for a 3-1 victory and Mike Fiers threw a no-hitter on Friday. This is coming together as a statement series for the ‘Stros here in late August.

As of Sunday morning, they hold a four-game lead in the AL West.

In the NL West, the Dodgers’ lead over the Giants is just 1 1/2.

Mariners, Indians and Rays make a three-way swap

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The Indians, Mariners, and Rays are working toward finalizing a three-team trade. The full details have not been revealed yet, and there are conflicting reports as to who is going where, but we know that Carlos Santana and Edwin Encarnacion are involved.

Initial reports have the Mariners getting Edwin Encarnacion from the Indians in exchange for Carlos Santana, with Cleveland also receiving first baseman Jake Bauers from the Rays. Outfielder/third baseman Yandy Diaz will reportedly head to Tampa Bay along with a player to be named later. There has been a conflict in the past few minutes, however as to where Encarnacion is actually going: Seattle or Tampa Bay. Mark Feinsand of MLB.com says it’s Seattle, Bob Nightengale says it’s Tampa Bay. We’ll know soon enough, I suppose.

Santana played for the Phillies last year and was traded to Seattle just a couple of weeks ago. He’ll never have a chance to wear a Mariners uniform and, instead, will go back to Cleveland, where he played his entire career until 2018. Encarnacion has spent the last two years in Cleveland. Santana is owed $35 million over the next two seasons and has a 2021 buyout. Encarnacion is owed $24 million in 2019 if you include the buyout on his 2020 club option.  If Encarnacion is going to Seattle, you have to figure that the Mariners will flip him in mid-season if possible.