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Dioner Navarro helped John Danks stop tipping his pitches

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White Sox starter John Danks was hit hard in his March 13 start against the Diamondbacks, surrendering eight runs on six hits and two walks with three strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings. He had a conversation with catcher Dioner Navarro, who told him that he was tipping his pitches by holding his glove in a different position based on whether he was throwing a fastball or breaking ball, Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports.

“Dioner has been around awhile,” Danks said. “He has seen me and faced me. If he says something, I don’t need to look at it on video. He told me exactly what I was doing. We fixed it and it has not been an issue since.”

He’s right. In his next start, last Friday against the Cubs, he threw five scoreless innings, yielding only one hit and two walks with seven strikeouts. He started again on Wednesday against the Padres and threw six scoreless innings on seven hits and a walk with six strikeouts.

Navarro is optimistic about Danks going forward.

“I noticed it against the Diamondbacks,” Navarro [said]. “That is my job as a catcher — to see those things. I think his last two outings have been great. I know he will continue to do it the whole season.”

Danks, 30, has had a rough go of things over the last five seasons. He has compiled an aggregate 4.71 ERA over 120 starts in that span of time. The White Sox inked him to a five-year, $65 million extension prior to the 2012 season and he’s now in the final year of that deal.

Astros, Nationals set to face off in the World Series starting Tuesday

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Saturday night’s wild ALCS finale will live in the mind of Astros and Yankees fans for a long, long time, but the Astros only have two days to bask in it because they have other business to attend to: the Washington Nationals, who they will host Tuesday evening in Game 1 of the World Series.

For the Astros, this year’s World Series presents the chance to forge a dynasty. To carry on a journey in which they’ve risen from a three-time 100-loss club to a three-years-straight 100-win club with not just one, but two World Series titles in the space of those three seasons.

For the Nationals, the World Series presents an opportunity to complete a pretty compelling narrative in which they’ve grown stronger as the year has gone on: from a near disastrous 19-31 start, to a late, come-from-behind victory in the Wild Card Game, to beating the favored Dodgers in the NLDS to simply dominating the Cardinals in the NLCS. The Nats are nobody’s Cinderella, but a win over the Astros would certainly make them one of the more notable giant-killers in recent memory. And, of course, would give them their first World Series title in franchise history and the city of Washington its first World Series winner since the Senators won it in 1924.

We’ll break down this Series in greater detail over the next couple of days, but for now it’s worth noting that this matchup presents us with, arguably, the best possible group of starting pitchers in the game. Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Zack Greinke, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin are six of the top — what? — 15 starting pitchers going right now? And Aníbal Sanchez has been pitching pretty dang good for Washington of late as well. Bullpenning is all the rage these days — and Houston’s Game 6 win was a bullpen affair — but there is something classic and compelling about a handful of aces facing off in October.

The difference-maker could very well be an Astros offense that — last night’s José Altuve walkoff blast notwithstanding — has, somehow, gone relatively quiet this postseason. Postseason pitching is always tough — and in beating the Rays and Yankees they faced two of the best bullpens going — but their collective 3.7 runs per game and .645 team OPS is very un-Astro-like. To beat the Nats, they’ll definitely want to see those numbers go higher.

For Washington, it’ll be about figuring out how to beat Gerrit Cole, Game 1’s starter, and Justin Verlander, who will likely go in Game 2. They’ll have to face each of those 20-game winners/Cy Young contenders twice if this series goes long. That seems daunting, but so too did climbing out of the hole they found themselves in in late May and beating the Dodgers in a five-game series. The Nats have dealt pretty well with “daunting” thus year and, at the moment, they’re playing their best baseball of the season.

So the stage is set. Washington vs. Houston in the 115th edition of the Fall Classic. Things get underway just after 8PM Eastern on Tuesday evening when Gerrit Cole fires in a near-100 m.p.h. fastball to Trea Turner. Stay with us over the next three days for our breakdown of what looks to be an epic matchup.