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What’s on Tap: Previewing Monday’s action

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Did you know that the Indians are in first place in the AL Central? The club just swept the Royals in a four-game series at home. Meanwhile, the White Sox were swept by the fourth-place Tigers, continuing a trend of Pale Hose incompetence dating back to nearly a month ago. And the Twins are, well, the Twins. So, the Central is thoroughly mediocre and seemingly up for grabs.

The Indians, seven games above .500, are slightly above average across the board. Their .324 weighted on-base average (wOBA) as a team ranks 10th in baseball despite Yan Gomes and 169 plate appearances of .578 OPS and Juan Uribe (155, .634). This is also despite Michael Brantley taking only 43 PA this season, and carrying Michael Martinez on the active roster.

Their rotation ERA of 3.98 is 11th-best in baseball, thanks in large part to Danny Salazar, whose 2.24 ERA over 11 starts isn’t quite representative of how he’s pitched thus far. And their bullpen ERA of 3.43 is 10th-best even with closer Cody Allen and set-up man Bryan Shaw owning mediocre ERA’s of 3.70 and 4.70, respectively.

In a tougher division, the Indians might not even be at .500 and could very well be in last place. But they’ve lucked out thus far as the Central has been a hot mess and the Twins have been siphoning wins to everybody. (To the White Sox and Tigers, six; to the Royals, five; to the Indians, two.)

Tonight, the Indians will match up with another surprisingly-good team in the Mariners. Trevor Bauer will face off against James Paxton at 10:10 PM EDT.

The rest of Monday’s action…

Chicago Cubs (Jon Lester) @ Philadelphia Phillies (Adam Morgan), 7:05 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals (Danny Duffy) @ Baltimore Orioles (Mike Wright), 7:05 PM EDT

Los Angeles Angels (Matt Shoemaker) @ New York Yankees (Masahiro Tanaka), 7:05 PM EDT

New York Mets (Steven Matz) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Jonathon Niese), 7:05 PM EDT

Toronto Blue Jays (J.A.  Happ) @ Detroit Tigers (Michael Fulmer),  7:10 PM EDT

Houston Astros (Mike Fiers) @ Texas Rangers (Colby Lewis), 8:05 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays (Chris Archer) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (Robbie Ray), 9:40 PM EDT

Atlanta Braves (Williams Perez) @ San Diego Padres (Christian Friedrich), 10:10 PM EDT

Colorado Rockies (Tyler Chatwood) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Mike Bolsinger), 10:10 PM EDT

Reds sign Nicholas Castellanos to a four-year deal

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The Cincinnati Reds have signed outfielder Nicholas Castellanos to a four-year deal worth $64 million. The contract includes opt-outs after both 2020 and 2021, which is certainly good for Castellanos, allowing him to go back out on the market if he has a big year. Odd that the Reds would agree to that, but on an annual basis it’s kind of a bargain for them so you figure that has something to do with it.

With Castellanos in the fold the Reds are going to have a lot of outfielders when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton already on the roster. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps taking over short from Freddy Galvis, who could be dealt. Alternatively, the Reds could trade from their newfound outfield surplus.

Castellanos, however, will have left field to himself. While he’s shaky at best with the glove, he had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power.

Now that he’ll be playing in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.