Tagged in: reliever

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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Los Angeles Dodgers add reliever Dellin Betances on minor league deal

The Los Angeles Dodgers, looking to deepen their pitching staff with low-risk, high-reward signings, have agreed to a minor league contract with four-time All-Star Dellin Betances, a source confirmed to ESPN on Tuesday.

Betances, 34, can earn a prorated portion of a $2.75 million base salary if he reaches the major leagues, with an additional $500,000 in performance bonuses, according to the New York Post.

Betances was one of the sport’s most dominant relievers while with the New York Yankees from 2014 to 2018, posting a 2.22 ERA with 607 strikeouts in 373⅓ innings. But the 6-foot-8, 265-pound right-hander has made only 17 appearances over the past three years, and there’s no set timetable for his return to the major leagues.

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Betances has been off a mound this offseason, but the Dodgers need a longer look to determine how far he is from tapping back into some of his prime form.

Betances spent the first 5½ months of the 2019 campaign rehabbing a right shoulder impingement and a strained lat, then returned on Sept. 15 and tore his left Achilles tendon on his eighth pitch, ending his season for good.

He then struggled through a 7.71 ERA in 11⅔ innings with the New York Mets during the COVID-shortened 2020 season and made only one major league appearance in 2021, opting for season-ending shoulder surgery at the end of June.

Betances joins a handful of rehabbing pitchers who might evolve into major contributors in the Dodgers’ bullpen later this season, involving Danny Duffy and Dustin May, traditional starting pitchers who probably won’t be stretched out enough to reenter the rotation in 2022.

The Dodgers also employ Tommy Kahnle, who is nearing his return from Tommy John surgery, and have re-signed Jimmy Nelson, who will spend most of this campaign recovering from Tommy John surgery but could factor into the mix in 2023.

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Seattle Mariners acquiring utility player Adam Frazier in trade with San Diego Padres

The Seattle Mariners have got second baseman/outfielder Adam Frazier in a trade with the San Diego Padres. Going to San Diego will be hard-throwing left-handed reliever Raymond Kerr and outfielder Corey Rosier.

Frazier, who turns 30 in December, was an All-Star last season for Pittsburgh, which dealt him to the Padres. He’s in line to play in a super-utility role, especially if Seattle signs a big-name free-agent infielder.

“We thought we were at the goal line to acquire Adam at trade deadline last year,” Mariners president Jerry Dipoto stated.

“Obviously we missed out and we stayed in touch with the Padres as we headed into the offseason knowing that they had a pretty robust roster. And we just liked the player so we stuck with it.”

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The Mariners revealed the move on Twitter with a nod to the TV show “Frasier.”

Frazier is under contract for $7.5 million this season and can enter free agency after the 2022 season. He finished fifth in the National League last season in hits (176) and batting average (.305) and added five home runs and 43 RBIs.

“Adam, to me, is one of the better strike-zone managers in baseball,” Dipoto said. “He’s got great contact skills. In an era where strikeouts are prevalent, he doesn’t strike out. His strikeout rates would be good in any era, really.”

“That’s how I feel I can impact the team; play good defense and try to hit the baseball. Get on base any way I can,” Frazier said.

Dipoto stated the club is having conversations with multiple free agents and made contract offers to a couple of them, one of whom he called “notable.”

“We felt like adding Adam made us a deeper team without stopping us from doing anything else we would have wanted to do,” Dipoto said. “That’s double the fun. We can continue to add to our team because Adam is so versatile.”

In six MLB seasons, Frazier has a career .281 average with 313 runs scored and 215 RBIs.

Kerr, 27, is a power lefty who can hit 100 mph. Rosier, 22, had an excellent debut in 2021.

Kerr was added to the Mariners’ 40-man roster just last week. He split time between Double-A Arkansas and Triple-A Tacoma last season. Rosier was a 12th-round pick in the 2021 amateur draft out of UNC Greensboro. He spent last season at Single-A Modesto.

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Kansas City Royals reliever Wade Davis announces retirement

Reliever Wade Davis, a three-time All-Star selection who has 141 saves in 13 major league seasons, is retiring, the Kansas City Royals revealed Wednesday.

The 36-year-old Davis, who led the National League with 43 saves in 2018, clinched the World Series title for the Royals in 2015 with a game-ending strikeout versus the New York Mets.

Davis returned to the Royals in 2021, going 0-3 with two saves in 40 appearances.

“Wade will forever be remembered by our fans, his teammates and our organization as an elite competitor and a very classy person,” Royals president of baseball operations Dayton Moore said in a statement.

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The Royals acquired Davis from Tampa Bay in December 2012, converted him to a full-time reliever in 2013 — he had 47 saves over four seasons with Kansas City — and then traded him to the Chicago Cubs after the 2016 season.

He spent one season in Chicago, completing a four-year, $12.6 million contract with three options that wound up totaling $35.1 million in salary.

He then signed a three-year, $52 million contract with the Colorado Rockies.

Davis was 63-55 with a 3.94 ERA and 141 saves in 161 chances over 88 starts and 469 relief appearances for Tampa Bay (2009-12), Kansas City (2013-16, 2021), the Chicago Cubs (2017) and Colorado (2018-20). He was an All-Star from 2015-17.

The right-hander was 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA and eight saves in the postseason, counting 3-0 with a 0.36 ERA and four saves for the Royals in 2014 and ’15.

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Chicago White Sox considering Craig Kimbrel trade after picking up reliever’s option

The Chicago White Sox are open to moving reliever Craig Kimbrel days after picking up his $16 million contract option for 2022.

“We view him as a potentially impactful reliever as he’s been for the vast majority of his career,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn stated Tuesday on Day 1 of the GM meetings in Southern California. “We’re not alone in that opinion.

“What we have to figure out is if it makes the most sense to have Craig in a White Sox uniform going forward or is there a better use of that spot and him perhaps via trade.”

Kimbrel, 33, stands ninth all-time with 372 career saves but was asked to pitch in the eighth inning for the White Sox after he was acquired in a midseason trade with the crosstown Cubs.

The move backfired as Kimbrel’s ERA ballooned from 0.49 with the Cubs to 5.09 with the White Sox.

“It didn’t work out the way we wanted last year so perhaps there’s a better use of his skills than how we were doing it,” Hahn said. “So we have to reconsider his usage with us versus a potential trade.”

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The White Sox had an all-star closer in Liam Hendriks when they gave up injured second baseman Nick Madrigal along with reliever Codi Heuer to get Kimbrel at the end of July. At the time, Kimbrel said he had no problem pitching in the eighth inning and blamed his struggles on mechanical issues.

Hahn said Kimbrel continues to express the desire to do what’s best for the team.

However, his return to the White Sox is in doubt and he’s more than likely to pitch back in the ninth inning for another team in 2022.

“He’s as good as gone,” one rival executive said Tuesday.

Hahn admitted Kimbrel’s performance wasn’t great but said he doesn’t regret the decision to trade for him. White Sox brass decided he was the best reliever on the market, and they went out and got him.

“I don’t know if we’re ever going to have an exact answer why he didn’t work out over those eight weeks but certainly if we’re going to include him in our plans for the future we have to find a way to maximize his abilities,” he said.

“It’s easy to look at the results and work your way backwards for an explanation and say, ‘Well the role wasn’t what he was used to, so it must be the role.’ He approached it the same way he would approach closing opportunities.”

If, by chance, the White Sox don’t move him, Hahn is confident the White Sox will get a team-first player in whatever role they put him in. “I’ve had multiple conversations with him since the season ended,” Hahn said. “He wants to win.”

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Two-time All-Star Luis Severino returns to New York Yankees, works two innings in 7-1 victory

Luis Severino took the mound in a major-league game for the first time since the 2019 American League Championship Series on Tuesday.

The two-time All-Star, who has battled myriad injuries since re-signing with the Yankees, entered in the unfamiliar role of reliever, working the final two innings of New York’s 7-1 victory over the Texas Rangers.

“Proud moment for him and for his teammates and for all of us who have seen him go through a lot,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone stated. “He’s battled different things, and has worked his tail off to get to this moment.”

He worked a quick eighth, authoring two strikeouts and a groundout to go along with a double. In the ninth, he permitted a single before ending it with a double play and a flyout.

“I was feeling a lot of different emotions. But I’m happy to be back, happy to finally help the team,” Severino told the YES Network. “I knew after the first pitch, that it was going to come back to normal.”

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He concluded with 30 pitches, 19 of which were strikes.

“There’s got to be rust, nerves, all of that, going out there,” Boone said. “And I thought he executed, and hopefully this is a step forward for him to help us here down the stretch.”

Severino was activated before Monday’s 4-3 victory over the Rangers, with Boone clearly saying he wanted to start him out as a reliever. Where he goes from here, an optimistic Boone wouldn’t say.

“I’m not going to cap what that can be. We’ll see,” he said. “That’s a talented person and a great pitcher. I’m not going to limit what he’s capable of.”

Giancarlo Stanton hit his 31st home run in the victory, while Joey Gallo added his 38th and Aaron Judge launched his 36th as New York’s offense woke up. It indeed was a feel-good night in The Bronx, despite the fact that the Yankees did not gain any ground in the American League wild-card race.

“He felt great to be a part of it,” Boone said of Severino. “There was some emotion in his voice, and you can imagine the hard work he’s put in to get to this point. It was a good night for him.”

The 27-year-old right-hander had Tommy John surgery on Feb. 27, 2020. He made four minor league appearances totaling 10⅔ innings for Tampa, Hudson Valley and Somerset, permitting four runs, five hits and one home run with three walks and 15 strikeouts.

His rehabilitation was slowed when he injured his right groin on June 12 in his second minor league appearance for Hudson Valley at Brooklyn.

Severino returned to pitch for Somerset on Aug. 3 and Aug. 8, then was scratched from an Aug. 13 outing for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre because of shoulder tightness.

“The fans always help me, every time I’m out there, and I knew we scored seven runs,” Severino said. “So, I was pretty calm out there.”

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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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Los Angeles Dodgers, Tommy Kahnle reach 2-year, $4.75 million deal

The Los Angeles Dodgers have reached a two-year deal with reliever Tommy Kahnle that is worth $4.75 million guaranteed, sources told ESPN on Wednesday, confirming multiple reports

The hard-throwing right-hander had Tommy John surgery on Aug. 4 with New York Yankees head physician Christopher Ahmad and is likely to return in late 2021 or at the start of the 2022 campaign.

He will make $750,000 this season as he rehabs as well as a $550,000 signing bonus, sources said, and his base salary for 2022 will be $3.45 million.

Kahnle’s absence was a factor in the Yankees’ loss to Tampa Bay in the AL Division Series, when Aroldis Chapman gave up a go-ahead home run to Mike Brosseau in the eighth inning of Game 5.

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Kahnle, 31, had been one of five key relievers in the bullpen, joining Chapman, Zack Britton, Chad Green and Adam Ottavino.

Manager Aaron Boone’s late-inning options became limited by Kahnle’s injury and Ottavino’s ineffectiveness.

Kahnle struck out 88 in 61⅓ innings and walked 20 in 2019, averaging 96.8 mph with his fastball. He had a 3.67 ERA.

He threw a 20-pitch eighth inning at Washington this year in his season debut on July 26 with three strikeouts, a hit and a walk, then felt discomfort while working out on July 28 and stopped a planned throwing session the following day. He didn’t pitch again this year.

The veteran reliever had declined an outright assignment to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and elected to become a free agent, Kahnle’s right as a player with at least three years of major league service. Kahnle is 9-9 with four saves and a 3.52 ERA in 285 appearances over seven major league seasons.

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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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Yankees’ Zack Britton escapes with only wrist bruise after being hit by line drive

Yankees reliever Zack Britton prevented a more serious injury Wednesday morning, after being hit by a liner to his non-pitching wrist.

A key lefty setup man, Britton was diagnosed with a bruised right wrist according to the Yankees. 

Exactly when Britton might be able to return to the mound was unknown as of early Wednesday afternoon. 

Britton received a CT scan and X-rays, which came back negative. He’d been pitching live batting practice at Steinbrenner Field when the injury occurred. 

Tossing his second simulated inning Wednesday, Britton was hit by a line drive off the bat of Erik Kratz, a veteran non-roster catcher.

“It’s a bad feeling,’’ Kratz said. “It’s especially worse when it’s your teammate.’’

And it’s just the latest issue to hit a Yankees camp beset by injuries to key players since early February.

Kratz spoke briefly with Britton before the pitcher exited the stadium. “One of those things,’’ Kratz said. Britton was not instantly available for comment.

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Like many Yankees pitchers in live BP drills, Britton was pitching without the protective netting in front of him.

Pitchers feel the screen impedes the follow through of their deliveries, but it naturally exposes them to risk from batted balls. 

Steinbrenner Field was otherwise empty on Wednesday. 

Manager Aaron Boone took a team of Yankees across the state to play the first of two exhibition matches on Florida’s east coast.

Next week, Aaron Judge will go for new tests on his first right rib.

Discovered to have suffered a stress fracture, Judge was prescribed two weeks of rest before taking another CT scan.

If the bone has properly healed, Judge could resume some baseball activity.

In the worst-case scenario, a surgical option could be discussed.

On Wednesday, catcher Gary Sanchez left Yankees camp and was diagnosed with the flu, possibly delaying his return from a sore back.

Sanchez hasn’t played in an exhibition game since March 6, but had been anticipated to return to the lineup this weekend.

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