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Phillies address bullpen, get Aaron Loup from Blue Jays

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The Phillies have acquired lefty reliever Aaron Loup from the Blue Jays, Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. The Jays will receive minor league pitcher Jacob Waguespack in return, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. Loup is a free agent after the season, so this is purely a rental for the Phillies.

Loup, 30, has been in the league seven years, putting together a 3.47 ERA over 318 2/3 innings. This year has been among the worst of his career, as he stands with a 4.54 ERA and a 42/13 K/BB ratio in 35 2/3 innings. Loup certainly handles lefties better than righties, so Phillies manager Gabe Kapler will almost certainly use him in situations that give the team the platoon advantage.

The Phillies already have two lefties in the bullpen in Austin Davis and Adam Morgan. The Phillies designated infielder Trevor Plouffe for assignment to make room on the 25-man roster for Loup.

Waguespack, 24, has split his season between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Combined, he put up a 4.68 ERA with 79 strikeouts and 36 walks in 82 2/3 innings across 15 starts and six relief appearances.

Cardinals tab Miles Mikolas for Opening Day start

Miles Mikolas
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The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.

The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.

Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.