What’s on Tap: Previewing Thursday evening’s action

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Thursday treated us to some day baseball, but we still have six evening games left on the docket. The pitching match-ups aren’t too exciting — there’s no Greinke/Bumgarner like Wednesday night — but I’ll be watching reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta take on a Reds lineup that has been surprisingly decent to begin the season. And that’s with Joey Votto carrying a .524 OPS. Eugenio Suarez, Brandon Phillips, and Jay Bruce each have an OPS in the deep .800’s and Zack Cozart is over .900.

Arrieta enters play Thursday with a perfect 3-0 record in three starts along with a 1.23 ERA and a 20/2 K/BB ratio in 22 innings. It’s amazing how severe his turnaround was after leaving the Orioles’ organization and joining the Cubs. Arrieta carried a 5.46 ERA in 63 starts and six relief appearances in Baltimore, went to the Cubs in early July 2013, and compiled a 3.66 ERA in the new league. He followed that up with a 2.53 ERA in 2014 and a 1.77 ERA last year en route to winning the Cy Young. Sometimes a change of scenery really is just what a player needs.

That game, at Great American Ball Park, starts at 7:10 PM EST. Arrieta will be opposing Brandon Finnegan.

The rest of Thursday’s action…

Oakland Athletics (Rich Hill) @ New York Yankees (Luis Severino), 7:05 PM EST

Toronto Blue Jays (Marco Estrada) @ Baltimore Orioles (Chris Tillman), 7:05 PM EST

Detroit Tigers (Mike Pelfrey) @ Kansas City Royals (Edinson Volquez), 7:15 PM EST

Houston Astros (Dallas Keuchel) @ Texas Rangers (A.J. Griffin), 8:05 PM EST

Pittsburgh Pirates (Gerrit Cole) @ San Diego Padres (James Shields), 9:10 PM EST

Free agent slugger José Abreu signs 3-year deal with Astros

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

HOUSTON — Jose Abreu and the World Series champion Astros agreed to a three-year contract, adding another powerful bat to Houston’s lineup.

Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, spent his first nine major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The first baseman became a free agent after batting .304 with 15 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .824 OPS this year.

With the Astros, he replaces Yuli Gurriel at first base in a batting order that also features All-Star sluggers Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker.

Gurriel became a free agent after Houston defeated the Philadelphia Phillies this month for its second World Series championship.

The 35-year-old Abreu becomes the biggest free agent to switch teams so far this offseason. Born in Cuba, the three-time All-Star and 2014 AL Rookie of the Year is a .292 career hitter in the majors with 243 homers, 863 RBIs and an .860 OPS.

The Astros announced the signing. Abreu is scheduled to be introduced in a news conference at Minute Maid Park.