Tagged in: pitching

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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De La Cruz homers in 10th, Marlins beat Nationals again

Bryan De La Cruz hit a two-run homer off the foul pole in the 10th inning to keep the Miami Marlins’ domination of the Washington Nationals going with a 3-2 triumph Monday.

The Marlins won the rare 11:05 a.m. start by defeating the Nationals for the 12th time in 13 games this year, including seven in a row. They extended their winning streak to five and moved two games back of .500 at nearly the halfway point.

De La Cruz became the latest Miami player to come up with a big hit during this run, after Jesús Sánchez hit a go-ahead two-run home run in the ninth Sunday and Jesús Aguilar homered and doubled Saturday. His fifth homer this season came off Tanner Rainey (1-3), who also gave up Sánchez’s shot to right less than 24 hours earlier.

It’s the first time De La Cruz had homered in the ninth inning or later in his major league career.

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Miami’s Braxton Garrett cruised through seven innings on 61 pitches before things got away from him in the eighth.

His first and only walk proved costly when Ehire Adrianza stole second and scored on Luis Garcia’s RBI single that sent Garrett to the showers.

With top relievers Anthony Bass, Steven Okert and Tanner Scott unavailable after each pitching three days in a row, manager Don Mattingly pieced together eight outs with Zach Pop, Jimmy Yacabonis and Dylan Floro. Yacabonis (1-1) got the win after pitching a scoreless ninth, and Floro picked up his second save in as many days — his first two this season.

Washington’s Patrick Corbin made quick work of the Marlins for much of his seven innings, scattering eight hits and striking out four with one walk.

The only run he gave up came in the third, when Luke Williams reached on a bunt single, advanced on Billy Hamilton’s sacrifice and scored on Jesús Aguilar’s single. Corbin, one of baseball’s worst pitchers earlier this campaign, has a 2.37 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 19 innings over his past three starts.

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Colorado Rockies’ Tyler Kinley likely out for season because of tear in right elbow

Colorado Rockies setup man Tyler Kinley will likely miss the remaining of the season due to a flexor tear in his right elbow.

Manager Bud Black stated Wednesday that an MRI revealed the tear and a sprain in Kinley’s pitching elbow. He’s scheduled to undergo a procedure soon, and Black did not rule out the need for Tommy John surgery.

“That answer will probably be clearer when he has the procedure, but I’m thinking this is probably going to cost him this season,” Black said.

Kinley, 31, was off to the best start of his career, sporting a 0.75 ERA over 25 appearances. He permitted just two earned runs and 21 hits in 24 innings, while striking out 27 and walking six.

He had earned the setup role ahead of closer Daniel Bard.

Right-hander Alex Colome, who has a 2.22 ERA in 25 games, is a candidate to take over that role.

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“It’s frustrating for Tyler first and foremost because he was thrown the ball so well and he was in such a good place fundamentally with his mechanics and mentally with his confidence,” Black said.

“His place on the team was trending upward, his career path. And a lot of that had to do with what he did this winter with some subtle changes to his delivery. So to have this happen, it’s such a bummer, man.”

Kinley, a 16th-round draft pick of Miami in 2013, is in his third season with Colorado after also pitching for the Marlins and Minnesota. He had nerve issues in the elbow a year ago, but Black said it’s unrelated to this injury.

Kinley last pitched on June 8 and was placed on the 15-day injured list Sunday.

“From talking to Tyler there wasn’t a one-pitch event or a one-game event [that caused the injury],” Black said.

“I’ve seen that over my career with pitchers where they throw one pitch and something tragic happens. But that was not the case.”

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Noah Syndergaard, Los Angeles Angels reach 1-year, $21 million deal

Right-hander Noah Syndergaard and the Los Angeles Angels have agreed to a one-year, $21 million deal, pending a physical, sources told ESPN on Tuesday.

Syndergaard, 29, spent the first seven campaigns of his career with the New York Mets, making one All-Star team and displaying perhaps the nastiest array of pitches for a starter in the major leagues.

Having pitched only two innings since 2019 because of Tommy John surgery, Syndergaard will join an Angels rotation that was among the worst in the big leagues last season.

The Angels’ pursuit of starting pitching this winter was their top priority, with two-way star Shohei Ohtani coming off a season that will end with the American League MVP award and outfielder Mike Trout returning from an injury-plagued 2021.

The cost is hefty: Beyond the $21 million, the Angels will forfeit their second-round draft pick in 2022 because Syndergaard had been tendered a one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer by the Mets. They will receive a pick after the draft’s competitive balance Round B (around 70th overall).

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While some in the industry expected Syndergaard to take the qualifying offer, the market proved healthier. The Angels, Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees were among the teams that showed the greatest interest in Syndergaard, sources told ESPN.

All of them saw enough in Syndergaard’s late-September return, which involved a pair of one-inning outings in which he didn’t throw his slider or curveball. Though Syndergaard’s average fastball velocity during the outings was down more than 3 mph from his 2017 peak, the promise of plenty more prompted the Angels to pay a premium.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Syndergaard’s deal, by average annual value, is the largest doled out by the franchise for a pitcher. C.J. Wilson signed a five-year, $77.5 million deal ($15.5 million AAV) prior to the 2012 season.

The Angels’ need for pitching is no secret.

Ohtani led the team with 130.1 innings; no other Angels pitcher exceeded 100. Syndergaard has never pitched 200 innings in a season; he’s made 30 or more starts in a season twice (2016 and 2019).

However, a rotation that includes Ohtani, Syndergaard and left-hander Patrick Sandoval has the makings of something good — particularly if general manager Perry Minasian can complement it with a top-of-the-rotation arm like free-agent right-hander Max Scherzer.

Syndergaard, a 6-foot-6 leviathan nicknamed Thor, looked superheroic early in his career, constantly ripping off 100-mph fastballs and pairing them with 93-mph sliders.

During the Mets’ run to the 2015 National League pennant, Syndergaard was among their best pitchers, and the next year he was even better, posting a 2.60 ERA, striking out 218 in 183.2 innings and looking every bit a star.

When Syndergaard was healthy, he was typically excellent, pairing his strikeout stuff with a tendency to generate groundballs. Over 718 career innings, he has a 3.32 ERA and has struck out 777, walked 166 and permitted just 64 home runs.

His return from elbow reconstruction in March 2020 hit roadblocks and culminated with the September showcases, during which he allowed two runs in two innings. That was enough for the Angels to see — and pay.

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Baltimore Orioles’ John Means pitches no-hitter vs. Seattle Mariners, misses perfect game with wild pitch on strikeout

John Means was almost perfect for the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday, but he will happily settle for a no-hitter and one of the greatest pitching performances in team history.

Means retired all 27 batters he faced in a 6-0 triumph over the Mariners at T-Mobile Park in Seattle, but he did allow a baserunner when Sam Haggerty reached on a third-strike wild pitch in the third inning. The Orioles then caught Haggerty attempting to steal second base, but the wild pitch nullifies the perfect game bid.

Means is believed to be the first pitcher in major league history to lose a perfect game on a third-strike wild pitch. According to Elias Sports Bureau research, he is the first pitcher to throw a non-perfect no-hitter with no walks, no hit batters and no errors. Instead, Means pitched the first individual no-hitter for the Orioles since Jim Palmer in 1969 — the longest stretch for any team in the majors without an individual no-hitter (the Orioles had a four-pitcher combined no-hitter in 1991).

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Means had never pitched more than seven innings in a match, but he had the Mariners confused all day with his arsenal of a low-90s mph sinker, a curveball and a terrific changeup.

He struck out 12 and induced 26 swings and misses. He threw first-pitch strikes to a remarkable 26 of the 27 batters he faced — the highest percentage of first-pitch strikes in a complete game in the pitch-tracking era (since 1988).

Means stated his biggest pitch on Wednesday was his inside fastball.

“I have to be able to do that to get the changeup working. Sevvy (catcher Pedro Severino) called a great game. Those fastballs saved me,” he said.

The closest ball to a hit was J.P. Crawford’s flare to center field with two outs in the sixth inning, but Cedric Mullins made a sliding grab. That blooper had a chance to drop with a .480 expected batting average via Statcast measurements, but Mullins got a good jump and handled it easily.

Means ended with a game score of 99, the highest in Orioles history for a nine-inning game. Erik Bedard and Mike Mussina shared the record at 98, both in 15-strikeout shutouts.

Means improved to 4-0 with a 1.37 ERA in 2021. It’s the first time since 1969 there have been three complete game no-hitters this early in the season.

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Texas Rangers reliever Jonathan Hernandez shut down from pitching at least 4 weeks with UCL sprain

The Texas Rangers will be without one of their top relievers to initiate the season after hard-throwing Jonathan Hernandez was shut down from pitching for at least four weeks because of a ligament sprain in his right elbow.

Rangers general manager Chris Young stated Tuesday that an MRI revealed a low-grade ulnar collateral ligament sprain after the right-hander felt something when throwing his last batting practice session.

Hernandez had a breakout season last year, when he was 5-1 with a 2.90 ERA in 27 appearances in the pandemic-shortened 60-game season. He had 31 strikeouts and eight walks in 31 innings, relying heavily on a sinker that averaged nearly 98 mph.

“The good news on him is that this [injury] is one that normally recovers and responds well with some rest,” Young said from the team’s spring training camp in Surprise, Arizona. Young also stated that outfielder/designated hitter Willie Calhoun is dealing with some mild groin tightness after playing Monday.

The team planned to be cautious with Calhoun for a few days but didn’t initially plan an MRI.

That game came exactly one year after Calhoun was hit in the face by a fastball that broke his jaw during a spring training game.

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Young said the Rangers would re-evaluate Hernandez after four weeks, and determine then if the 24-year-old’s ulnar collateral ligament has healed enough to begin a throwing program. He hadn’t yet pitched in a spring training game and will need significant time to build back up once he can throw again.

“Jonathan is obviously one we were counting on,” said Young, who expects the reliever to be out at least a couple of months. “This one hurts a little bit. But there’s still a chance he pitches this year.”

While Hernandez didn’t have any save opportunities last season, he pitched in some high-leverage situations. The Rangers expected to use him in a similar role this year, with maybe some opportunities as the closer.

“We kind of anticipated him being obviously one of our back-end guys, a multiple inning-type pitcher as well,” manager Chris Woodward said. “He’s an eighth-, ninth-inning guy that we can pitch for the eighth and the ninth if we wanted to. We don’t have that option with some of our other guys.”

Jose Leclerc is coming back from a shoulder injury the closer sustained a week into last season, when pitched in only two matches. Left-handed Joely Rodriguez, who had a 2.13 ERA and struck out 17 in his 12⅔ innings last season, is still behind in spring training because of a sprained ankle before getting to camp. He is expected to throw his first bullpen session Friday.

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