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Sergio Romo to make first start after 588 relief appearances

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According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays will give Sergio Romo his first major league start Saturday, though the plan is to have him work just the first and maybe part of the second inning.

The key here is that the Rays are facing an Angels team that stacks a bunch of right-handers at the top of the lineup. Shohei Ohtani pitches Sunday, so he’s probably not going to start Saturday. The other two lefties the Angels play fairly regularly, Kole Calhoun and Luis Valbuena, have both struggled and are hitting in the bottom half of the order. The Angels could move someone up in response to the Rays starting Romo, but the Rays probably wouldn’t care overly much. If the Angels use their normal lineup, Romo would face Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton and, if necessary, Albert Pujols in the first.

The plan is for lefty Ryan Yarbrough to relieve Romo, perhaps to start the second or the first time a lefty is due up. Yarbrough has started his last three times out and could pitch as many as 5-6 innings in relief against the Angels.

Romo, who broke into the majors with the Giants 10 years ago, has made 588 relief appearances without a start. He has made a few one- and two-inning starts in rehab appearances in the minors through the years, but he was last a regular starter in A-ball in 2006.

The Nationals have inquired about Kris Bryant

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The Washington Nationals, fresh off signing Stephen Strasburg to a $245 million deal, are now turning their attention to their third base hole. Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that they have made inquiries to the Chicago Cubs about trading for Kris Bryant.

Emphasis on the word “inquiry” because it’d be premature for the Cubs to trade Bryant at the moment, even if they are reported to be considering the possibility.

Bryant and the Cubs are awaiting word from an arbitrator about Bryant’s years-old service time grievance. If Bryant wins, he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season. If the Cubs win they control him for two more years. The team may or may not choose to trade him in either case as they are reportedly trying to cut payroll, but the price for him will vary pretty significantly depending on whether or not the acquiring club will receive one or two years of control over the former MVP.

For Washington, this would be a means of replacing free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon. Or, perhaps, the inquiries are a means of creating a tad more leverage for the Nats as they talk to Rendon’s agent about re-signing him.

Which, in the past, the Nats said they could not do if they also re-signed Strasburg, though I suspect that’s just posturing too. They may not want to spend big money to keep their World Series core together, but they can afford it. They’re going to see, I suspect, an eight-figure uptick in revenue by virtue of being the defending World Series champs. They are poised to receive a significant payout as a result of recent rulings in their own multi-year dispute with the Orioles and the MASN network. They are, of course, owned by billionaire real estate moguls. All of that taken together means that, if they choose to, they can bring back Rendon. Assuming he chooses to come back too.

But, if that doesn’t happen, they appear to be giving themselves options at the hot corner.