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What’s on Tap: Previewing Thursday’s action

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Phillies right-hander Alec Asher will make his 2016 debut on Thursday night in a 7:05 PM EDT start opposite the Nationals A.J. Cole at Nationals Park.

Asher, 24, was suspended 80 games on June 16 earlier this year after testing positive for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, a performance enhancing drug. Which really goes to show that simply taking a PED alone doesn’t make you a good athlete. Asher never had the most impressive minor league numbers, posting an aggregate 3.97 ERA last year in 24 starts between Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock in the Rangers’ minor league system as well as Triple-A Lehigh Valley after the Phillies acquired him in the Cole Hamels trade. In seven major league starts last year, he had an ugly 9.31 ERA.

A lot of people — fans and sportswriters alike — have this idea that PEDs are like Popeye’s spinach where you take the substance and it instantly makes your muscles bigger and your reflexes faster, leading to undeniably improved on-field performance. Asher is a good reminder that that’s not the case.

The rest of Thursday’s action…

Cincinnati Reds (Dan Straily) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Ivan Nova), 7:05 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays (Alex Cobb) @ New York Yankees (CC Sabathia), 7:05 PM EDT

Milwaukee Brewers (Junior Guerra) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Jaime Garcia), 7:15 PM EDT

Colorado Rockies (Jeff Hoffman) @ San Diego Padres (Clayton Richard), 10:10 PM EDT

Texas Rangers (Derek Holland) @ Seattle Mariners (Taijuan Walker), 10:10 PM EDT

Giants sign Drew Smyly to one-year deal

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The Giants announced on Thursday that the club inked pitcher Drew Smyly to a one-year contract. As Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area notes, the contract is of the major league variety.

Smyly, 30, split last season between the Rangers and Phillies with a stint with the Brewers in between. He did not appear in a major league game with the Brewers. In aggregate, Smyly posted a 6.24 ERA with 120 strikeouts and 55 walks over 114 innings.

Smyly will vie for a spot at the back of the Giants’ starting rotation. If he doesn’t make the cut, he could work out of the bullpen. Pitching in the spacious confines of Oracle Park should help Smyly, who gave up 19 homers in Texas and 13 in Philly last season in more hitter-friendly parks.