LEADING OFF: Traded players join new teams, Salazar returns
A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
NEW FACES AND PLACES
Following a flurry of deals just before Wednesday’s trade deadline, players all over the majors will be joining their new teams. Zack Greinke (Astros), Shane Greene (Braves) and Nicholas Castellanos (Cubs) were among the notable names who got moved on a dizzying day that featured two dozen trades. But perhaps most surprising was the fact the AL East-leading Yankees — and World Series champion Red Sox — didn’t make any additions to their major league rosters.
Cleveland starter Danny Salazar makes his first big league appearance since the 2017 playoffs when the Indians host Houston in the rubber match of a three-game series between AL pennant contenders. Salazar, an All-Star in 2016, missed last season because of arm trouble and had shoulder surgery. All-Star Gerrit Cole (12-5, 2.94 ERA) looks to continue his dominant stretch for the Astros. He’s 7-0 with a 1.88 ERA in 11 starts since June 1, piling up 100 strikeouts in 72 innings.
After combining for all of five runs over the past two days, the Cubs and Cardinals decide their three-game set in St. Louis. The longtime rivals are tied for first place in the NL Central at 57-50 after Kyle Hendricks pitched Chicago to a 2-0 victory Wednesday night. Jon Lester (9-6, 3.63 ERA) starts the series finale for the Cubs against Jack Flaherty (4-6, 4.17), who has permitted two runs or less in each of his last four outings.
Still with the Mets, right-hander Zack Wheeler (7-6, 4.71 ERA) starts in Chicago as they try to extend their longest winning streak since April 2018 to seven games. Hoping this recent surge leads to a legitimate playoff push, New York held onto Wheeler and several other trade candidates at Wednesday’s deadline. Wheeler, who can become a free agent after the season, beat Pittsburgh last time out after returning from the injured list. Rookie right-hander Dylan Cease (1-3, 6.86) pitches for the White Sox in the series finale.
The Pirates and Reds are waiting to hear about probable suspensions from Major League Baseball following Tuesday’s brawl between the teams. Cincinnati manager David Bell certainly faces discipline for coming back onto the field an inning after being ejected for arguing balls and strikes, and seven other players and coaches were thrown out of the game.