Tagged in: bullpen

Royals bullpen clutch in holding off fast-fading Twins 5-2

MJ Melendez homered for the second consecutive day, the Royals bullpen pitched five innings of two-hit ball and Kansas City beat the fast-fading Minnesota Twins 5-2 on Wednesday night to put a positive finish on a difficult day.

The Royals clinched their first winning series in nearly a month just hours after owner John Sherman fired longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, who led the franchise to two American League pennants and a World Series title.

Daniel Lynch allowed two runs on four hits over four shaky innings before giving way to the Kansas City bullpen, which was solid for the second consecutive night. 

Anthony Misiewicz (1-1) and three other relievers got the ball to Scott Barlow, pitched around an error in the ninth for his second save in as many nights and 23rd on the year.

Bailey Ober (1-3) permitted three runs on seven hits and a walk over five innings for Minnesota, which was in an AL Central race two weeks ago but has lost six of seven to start an eight-game trip that’s dashed its playoff hopes.

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The Royals opened the game the same way they finished the previous night: with production at the top of the order.

Melendez, who hit a two-run homer in the series opener, homered leading off the game for the third time this season, driving a 3-1 pitch an estimated 437 feet to center field. And after Bobby Witt Jr. reached on a base hit, Salvador Perez blooped an RBI double to right that was sneakily reminiscent of his two-out, go-ahead double on Tuesday night.

Minnesota got one back in the second on Matt Wallner’s base hit, and when the Royals answered on Edward Oliveras’ two-out single in the third, the Twins again closed within a run thanks in part to a two-bag error by Vinnie Pasquantino.

That was it for the Twins, though, because the stars of the night came out of the Kansas City bullpen.Collin Snider worked around a two-on, no-out jam in the fifth. Misiewicz retired four of the five he faced in the sixth and seventh. 

Dylan Coleman handled the rest of the seventh and the first two outs of the eighth. And Amir Garrett finished that one off before Barlow wrapped up the Twins’ 13th loss in their last 16 games.

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Milwaukee Brewers bolster bullpen, acquire reliever Matt Bush from Texas Rangers

The NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers got hard-throwing reliever and former No. 1 draft pick Matt Bush from the Texas Rangers on Monday night for infielder Mark Mathias and a top pitching prospect.

Bush is 2-1 with a 2.95 ERA and one save in 40 games this campaign, including five starting in an opener role. He hasn’t allowed an earned run over his past 12 appearances.

He was brought in to help fortify the Brewers’ bullpen on the same day they traded All-Star closer Josh Hader to San Diego for reliever Taylor Rogers and three other players.

“A little shocked, definitely wasn’t expecting it, but I guess just a bittersweet moment,” Bush said. “It’s also really exciting to go to the Brewers, a team that’s really winning right now and has a chance of going to the playoffs and doing big things.” Texas got Mathias and left-handed pitcher Antoine Kelly. Mathias will be added to the 40-man roster with the Rangers, and Kelly will be assigned to their minor league system.

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Bush, 36, has spent all five of his big league seasons with the Rangers (2016-18, 2021-22). He was the first pick in the 2004 draft as a shortstop by his hometown San Diego Padres.

Bush was a 30-year-old rookie when he made his major league debut with Texas in 2016.

That first game came nearly 12 years after he was drafted, the longest gap for a No. 1 pick to make his debut.

hat first game came nearly 12 years after he was drafted, the longest gap for a No. 1 pick to make his debut.

In 180 big league games as a pitcher, he is 12-7 with a 3.34 ERA and 188 strikeouts in 177⅔ innings

“It’s really hard to say goodbye here. This has been home for me for quite a while,” Bush said. “My family and I have been treated so well here, and I feel like the organization’s always taken care of myself first and then baseball.”

While with the Tampa Bay Rays organization in 2012, Bush had a DUI crash during spring training that seriously injured, and nearly killed, a 72-year-old man on a motorcycle. Bush spent 3½ years in prison.

The Rangers scouted Bush in the parking lot of a restaurant where he was employed while in a work-release program for the final months of his prison sentence in the fall of 2015.

Bush twice had surgery on his right elbow while with the Rangers. After a procedure in 2018 to repair and reinforce the partially torn ulnar collateral ligament didn’t work, Bush needed Tommy John surgery in 2019.

It was the second time he had had that ligament replacement surgery since converting from shortstop to pitcher not long after getting drafted.

After missing all of 2019 and 2020, his only appearance for Texas last year was a scoreless inning in the season finale.

Mathias, who turns 28 on Tuesday, has started five games at second base for the Brewers this season. He made his big league debut playing 16 games for Milwaukee in 2020 before missing all of last season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Kelly, who is 22 and was a selection for the All-Star Futures Game, was a second-round pick by the Brewers in the 2019 draft. He was 2-4 with a 3.86 ERA in 19 starts at Class A Wisconsin this season.

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Jansen, Guerrero homer, Blue Jays beat Cardinals 8-1

Danny Jansen hit a three-run homer and a solo shot, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. also went deep and the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 8-1 on Tuesday night.

“It was my first time to be in the stadium here and obviously it’s a really cool stadium,” Jansen said. “It was fun. It was nice for us to get some breathing room. Guys were putting great swings on the ball and getting hits. Hitting is contagious. It always is.”

Kevin Gausman (4-3) threw six scoreless innings with eight strikeouts and no walks. He allowed four hits and beat the Cardinals for the first time in eight appearances.

“For us to get our mojo back and have that high energy and everybody talking in the dugout, that was nice to see,” Gausman said. “Any one of these guys can hit a home run at any given moment.”

Toronto split the two-game series and ended the Cardinals’ winning streak at four.

“It was a great day,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo stated. “We needed this day. Gausman gave us what we needed. We rest the bullpen. It was great to see the offense come alive.”

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Jordan Hicks (1-4) pitched three-plus innings in his first career start versus the Blue Jays. He permitted four runs on four hits with five walks.

“The whole game I felt like I didn’t have command of my fastball,” Hicks said. “The fastball is the game changer for me. I can’t be out there throwing slider or curveball every pitch. It’s frustrating.”

Alejandro Kirk led off the fourth with a single and Matt Chapman walked before Jansen hit a 3-2 slider from Hicks off the foul pole in left to make it 4-0.

“I was just hoping it wouldn’t hook too much,” Jansen said. “That was really cool. I’ve talked about getting out of my own way. I’m good at pulling the ball.”

Jansen led off the seventh with a blast estimated at 427 feet for his fifth homer this season and third multi-homer game of his career.

The Blue Jays added three runs in the sixth. 

George Springer hit a sinking line drive to right field for a triple to score Raimel Tapia and chase reliever Nick Wittgren. A sacrifice fly drove home Springer.

Guerrero then greeted reliever Drew VerHagen with a homer to left. He had singled in the first inning to snap an 0-for-14 drought.

“Obviously if I tell you that I didn’t enjoy it, I would be lying to you guys,” Guerrero said through a translator. “When you hit a homer, you’ve got to enjoy it.”

It was Guerrero’s second homer of the month and his first in 15 games.

“Before he did that, he was talking in the dugout that for the first time he feels locked in,” Montoyo. “Like he can see the ball right. That bomb he hit, that was good to hear.”

Rookie Brendan Donovan had an RBI single in the seventh for the Cardinals.

“Game got away from us,” St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said. “Gave up some extra outs. Not our best baseball.”

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Free agent Corey Kluber to throw bullpen session for interested teams next week

Free agent Corey Kluber, the two-time Cy Young Award winner who has been derailed by injuries over the past two years, is on calendar for a normal spring training and will throw for interested suitors next week.

Kluber will conduct a 30-pitch bullpen on the morning of Jan. 13 at Cressey Sports Performance in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, where the 34-year-old right-hander has spent half his offseason, his agent, B.B. Abbott of Jet Sports Management, told ESPN on Monday.

Kluber established himself among the game’s most dominant starting pitchers while with the Cleveland Indians from 2014 to 2018, winning 83 games, posting a 2.85 ERA and averaging 218 innings per season.

But he suffered a fractured ulna bone in his right arm on a comebacker in early May 2019, then strained his oblique as he neared a return in late August.

The Texas Rangers traded for him four months later, then watched him suffer a season-ending strain of his teres major muscle — near his right shoulder — 18 pitches into his Rangers debut on July 26, 2020.

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The Rangers declined their $18 million option on Kluber’s contract near the end of October.

Kluber was cleared to resume throwing shortly thereafter and has since thrown three bullpen sessions, Abbott said. He is expected to throw off the mound once more and receive a final MRI within the next nine days.

Kluber’s showcase comes amid a slow-moving offseason, particularly for pitchers.

Of the 30 starters who made up Kiley McDaniel’s top 120 free agents in early December, only seven have committed to teams for 2021 — two of whom did so by taking the qualifying offer.

In a time when teams are especially concerned about pitcher workloads coming off a shortened season and owners are hesitant to spend with another season without fans in attendance, Kluber can provide an established track record at a discount rate.

The risk, however, is obvious — Kluber has accumulated only 36⅔ innings over the past two years.

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Milwaukee Brewers reliever Devin Williams named NL Rookie of the Year

Milwaukee Brewers reliever Devin Williams won the National League Rookie of the Year award on Monday night.

Featuring a devastating changeup and a four-seam fastball that gets into the upper 90s, Williams was practically unhittable during the pandemic-shortened campaign. The 26-year-old right-hander went 4-1 with a microscopic 0.33 ERA, striking out 53 in just 27 innings.

Williams is the first pitcher to gain the award without recording a save or making a start during his award-winning season — reflecting the increased importance of the bullpen in today’s game. He is the first reliever to take home the honor in either league since Craig Kimbrel did so for Atlanta in 2011, and the first Rookie of the Year for Milwaukee since Ryan Braun in 2007.

“I don’t really think that saves are the end-all be-all,” Williams said on a conference call during a vacation in Jamaica. “If I come up in the seventh inning and I go through one through five, I think that that can be pretty valuable, as well.”San Diego Padres second baseman Jake Cronenworth and Philadelphia Phillies infielder Alec Bohm ended tied for second in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

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Williams permitted just one run in 27 innings in the shortened season and struck out 53% of the batters he faced, the highest percentage in MLB history by a pitcher with at least 20 innings pitched.

His changeup was arguably the most dominant pitch in all of baseball in 2020. Opponents batted 2-for-62 (.032) against it, the lowest opponent average on a single pitch this season (minimum 50 plate appearances against).

Williams missed Milwaukee’s loss to the champion Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs because of shoulder soreness.

“I’m doing a little bit of rehab still, but it’s feeling good,” Williams said.

Williams, a St. Louis native, was selected by Milwaukee in the second round of the 2013 draft. Williams teamed with closer Josh Hader to form a shutdown tandem at the back end of the Brewers’ bullpen.

Williams broke into the majors last year, finishing with no record and a 3.95 ERA in 13 relief appearances. He struck out 14 in 13⅔ innings. Cronenworth hit .285 in 54 matches for San Diego, helping the Padres reach the playoffs for the first time since 2006. Bohm, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 amateur draft, batted .338 with four homers and 23 RBIs in 44 games for the Phillies.

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