Tagged in: reliever

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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Mets, reliever Dellin Betances agree to one year deal

The New York Mets have reached an agreement with free-agent reliever Dellin Betances on a one-year contract with a player option for 2021.

The Mets announced the deal with the four-time All Star on Tuesday. The deal is worth $10.5 million, but Betances could earn $13 million if he appears in 70 games. There is a player option in 2021 and a vesting player option for 2022, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

The 31-year-old, who is from New York, is staying in his hometown after spending his first eight seasons in the majors with the Yankees.

He missed most of 2019 because of injuries. Betances’ season ended after just eight pitches. He tore an Achilles tendon in his first appearance back from a lat injury that had sidelined him since spring training.

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Betances was the first reliever in baseball history to have 100 or more strikeouts in five consecutive seasons (2014-2018). The right-hander led all major league relievers in strikeouts in each year from 2014-2016.

“Dellin is one of the elite relievers in the game with an incredible track record of pitching on the biggest stage and in playoff games,” Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said in a statement.

In 2018, Betances made 66 appearances, with a 2.70 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings. He has made nine career playoff appearances, with a 3.27 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 11 innings.

“I love New York,” Betances said. “I grew up in Manhattan. Went to high school in Brooklyn. Played minor league ball in Staten Island. Made it to the big leagues in the Bronx. Now, I’m excited to go win a World Series with the Mets in Queens.”

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Mets designated infielder Sam Haggerty for assignment.

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