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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

Oakland Athletics reverse course: will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.