What’s on Tap: Previewing Thursday’s action

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There were two afternoon games today which I totally didn’t realize were happening or else I would’ve done this earlier. What am I, a baseball media professional or something? Oh well. As I write this the Mariners are about to beat the Orioles and the Brewers are holding a lead against the Cubs.

Most of the games go down tonight. Because I’m traveling tomorrow I gave Bill the night off and he’s going to cover the day tomorrow. If something newsy happens this evening I’ll pop in to write about it. I just hope it happens after, say, 9pm because I’m going out to dinner. I’ll do what I have to do, of course, because I am nothing if not a blogging professional, but I know from experience that women just LOVE It when you interrupt a date for a “blogging emergency.” In other news, I’m going to probably die alone, surrounded by cats.

Unless I get married, in which case it’ll be a lot like this. Gotta be yourself, you know. Hi, Kevin!

The matchups tonight include a nice Steven StrasburgMatt Harvey tilt, assuming Matt Harvey remembers that he’s Matt Harvey. Chris Sale goes for win number 9 against zero losses. I want him to win 30 this year. Not because I care about how he or the White Sox do but because I really want to spend all of August and September talking about what pitcher wins really mean. That’s always a fun discussion filled with nuance and insight. Both Jeff Samardzija and Jhoulys Chacin pitch tonight which is significant mostly because I hate spelling “Samardzija” and “Jhoulys.” If my recent run of cosmic luck holds, each will pitch a no-hitter tonight and my Ctrl, C, and V keys will break down from overuse. But like I said: I’m nothing if not a professional.

Atlanta Braves (Mike Foltynewicz) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Jeff Locke), 7:05 PM EDT, PNC Park

Cleveland Indians (Josh Tomlin) @ Cincinnati Reds (Tim Adleman), 7:10 PM EDT, Great American Ball Park

Washington Nationals (Steven Strasburg) @ New York Mets (Matt Harvey), 7:10 PM EDT, Citi Field

Colorado Rockies (Jon Gray) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Michael Wacha), 7:15 PM EDT, Busch Stadium

Houston Astros (Collin McHugh) @ Chicago White Sox (Chris Sale), 8:10 PM EDT, U.S. Cellular Field

Toronto Blue Jays (Marco Estrada) @ Minnesota Twins (Ervin Santana), 8:10 PM EDT, Target Field

San Francisco Giants (Jeff Samardzija) @ San Diego Padres (James Shields), 9:10 PM EDT, Petco Park

Los Angeles Dodgers (Ross Stripling) @ Los Angeles Angels (Jhoulys Chacin), 10:05 PM EDT, Angel Stadium of Anaheim

New York Yankees (Ivan Nova) @ Oakland Athletics (Kendall Graveman), 10:05 PM EDT, Oakland Coliseum

Phillies sign Francisco Liriano and Neil Walker to minor league deals

Francisco Liriano
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
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Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.

Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.

Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.