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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

Padres will try to lock up Fernando Tatís Jr. to a long term deal

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The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will try to get Fernando Tatís Jr. locked up in a long-term deal before the start of the 2020 season.

It’d be a wise move from the team’s perspective, of course. Tatís showed in 2019 that he’s the future of the franchise, hitting .317/.379/.590 with 22 homers and 16 stolen bases through 84 games while playing spectacular defense at short. He was a serious contender for the Rookie of the Year Award before going down to injury and still finished third despite playing just a tad over half a season.

That talent and promise means that, in all likelihood, Tatís stands to make massive money in arbitration and free agency once he gets there. If he gets there, that is. Because as we’ve seen so often in recent years, teams have been aggressive in their efforts to lock up young stars like Tatís, buying out their arbitration and at least a couple of their free agency years. These deals tend to be team-friendly, with multiple team options aimed at getting maximal value out of such players before they hit the open market. Of course, the players get much more up front money than they would in the three seasons in which teams can and do set their salaries unilaterally, usually at less than $1 million per year. It’s a standard now vs. later tradeoff, even if the value of the “now” is far less than the value of “later” and even if it pays these guys far less than they’re worth overall.

But that’s the system. And it’s one which will force Tatís to make a tough choice: either take a deal at a time when the team has most of the leverage or else turn down millions in hand now in order take a shot at many more millions later. In his case, he’ll have a rookie season with multiple injuries to think about too. Does that portend future injury issues? Could he, like some players who have been in his shoes before, end up damaged goods by the time he expected to get paid?

We’ll see how both he and the Padres calculate all of that between now and February, it seems.