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What’s on Tap: Previewing Saturday’s action

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There’s no better way to start off a Saturday than with a match-up of aces, which is exactly what the Giants and Cubs have planned for this afternoon when Madison Bumgarner and Jake Arrieta square off at 2:20 PM EDT at Wrigley Field. Bumgarner has the second-lowest ERA among qualified major league pitchers, at 2.49, but, since you asked, it’s been about two weeks since he hammered a ball out of the park:

Arrieta, on the other hand, hasn’t driven a ball into the stands since June 27, but with an offense that averages 5.09 runs per game, that hasn’t really been an issue this season. By comparison, the Giants’ offense sits at league average with 4.49 runs per game, a number that rises ever so slightly to an average of 4.88 runs when Bumgarner takes the mound.

While the Cubs have all but secured a postseason berth, and the Giants currently lead the pack of National League wild card contenders, the same cannot be said for the Angels and Mariners. The Angels, who will send out lefty Tyler Skaggs for a 9:10 PM EDT nightcap at Safeco Field, are sunk 14 games out of a wild card spot and 21.5 games back of the division lead.

The Mariners look a little closer to the playoffs, with just a four-game gap to close in the wild card race, but they still have to contend with the Astros, Yankees, and Royals — all of whom, through some stroke of luck or fate, dropped their series openers on Friday. Facing the Angels on Saturday night is right-hander Taijuan Walker, who has given up four or more runs in each of his starts dating back through July 5 and is still waiting to hit his first career home run.

You can find more from Saturday’s action below.

Houston Astros (Joe Musgrove) @ Texas Rangers (Derek Holland), 4:05 PM EDT, Globe Life Park in Arlington

St. Louis Cardinals (Jaime Garcia) @ Cincinnati Reds (Dan Straily), 4:10 PM EDT, Great American Ball Park

Toronto Blue Jays (Marco Estrada) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Blake Snell), 6:10 PM EDT, Tropicana Field

New York Yankees (CC Sabathia) vs. Baltimore Orioles (Kevin Gausman), 7:05 PM EDT, Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Atlanta Braves (John Gant) @ Philadelphia Phillies (Vince Velasquez), 7:05 PM EDT, Citizens Bank Park

Milwaukee Brewers (Jimmy Nelson) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Ivan Nova), 7:05 PM EDT, PNC Park

Chicago White Sox (James Shields) @ Minnesota Twins (Hector Santiago), 7:10 PM EDT, Target Field

Miami Marlins (Jose Fernandez) @ Cleveland Indians (Trevor Bauer), 7:10 PM EDT, Progressive Field

Washington Nationals (Tanner Roark) @ New York Mets (Robert Gsellman), 7:10 PM EDT, Citi Field

Detroit Tigers (Michael Fulmer) @ Kansas City Royals (Yordano Ventura), 7:15 PM EDT, Kauffman Stadium

Arizona Diamondbacks (Braden Shipley) @ Colorado Rockies (Tyler Chatwood), 8:10 PM EDT, Coors Field

Boston Red Sox (Rick Porcello) @ Oakland Athletics (Daniel Mengden), 9:05 PM EDT, Oakland Coliseum

San Diego Padres (Luis Perdomo) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Rich Hill), 9:10 PM EDT, Dodger Stadium

Report: Yankees, Reds finalizing trade for Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray
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Barring physicals and roster reshuffling, the Yankees and Reds are all but ready to finalize a deal involving right-hander Sonny Gray, Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported Saturday. The exact return has not been confirmed, but Heyman hears that the Yankees will receive top infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick in exchange for Gray, with an as-yet unnamed third player possibly involved as well.

According to several reports earlier in the day, negotiations came down to the wire as the Yankees first had their eye on the Reds’ no. 6 prospect, 22-year-old catcher Tyler Stephenson. The Reds ultimately elected to hang on to Stephenson and send Long to New York, as they currently have a greater need for catching depth and weren’t expected to be able to provide a full-time role for the infielder in 2019. Long, 23, is ranked seventh in the Reds’ system and appears to be nearing his MLB debut after batting .261/.353/.412 with 12 homers and a .765 OPS across 522 PA at Double-A Pensacola last year.

Gray figures to step into a prominent role within the Reds’ rotation, which is likely to be a mix of recently-acquired left-hander Alex Wood and right-handers Tanner Roark, Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, and Tyler Mahle, among several others. Despite Gray’s struggle to remain productive on the mound — he’s three years removed from his only All-Star campaign and turned in a disappointing 4.90 ERA and 2.16 SO/BB rate in 2018 — he might yet help stabilize a team that trotted out the fifth-worst rotation in the majors last season. If, on the other hand, the veteran righty finds the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park a little too unforgiving this year, the Reds can take some comfort in the fact that he’s due to enter free agency in 2020.