A pitcher is approaching strikeout history — again — and a former MVP is getting paid in this week’s MLB Weekly.
The Red Sox traded for SP Chris Sale in December hoping he could be the team’s ace, and he has not only lived up to but exceeded any expectations the team had for him. Pitching against the Rays on Saturday, he struck out 12 batters, the seventh-straight game in which he has racked up at least 10 strikeouts. That puts him one shy of the record of eight-straight games of 10-plus strikeouts, set by SP Pedro Martinez in 1999 — and matched by Sale in 2015 when he was with the White Sox. Other than Martinez and Sale, only two other pitchers in Major League Baseball history have had seven games in a row of at least 10 strikeouts, SPs Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan.
Overall for the season, Sale has a MLB-best 85 strikeouts in 58.2 innings over eight starts. His ERA stands at 2.15 and a 0.77 WHIP. Opponents are hitting just .177 against him. With those numbers, the Red Sox seem to be getting a good return on their investment, which sent four players to the White Sox, highlighted by 3B Yoan Moncada. Sale is next scheduled to pitch on Thursday at the A’s as he tries to tie the record currently held by Martinez and himself.
Nationals OF Bryce Harper, the 2015 National League MVP, is eligible to hit free agency after the 2018 season, at which time he is likely to get the biggest contract in MLB history. He had one year of arbitration left before then, following this season, but the Nationals apparently didn’t want to have to go through the arbitration process so the team locked Harper up for 2018 this week, inking him to a one-year deal worth $21.65 million, which will probably look like a bargain compared to what he gets on his free-agent contract. That contract is the largest one-year contract signed by an arbitration-eligible player in MLB history. And he can get another $1 million on top of that if he is named NL MVP next season.
After a down season last year in which he hit .243 with 24 home runs, Harper is hitting .368 this season with a 1.220 OPS and 11 home runs entering Sunday, putting him on pace to potentially set a new career high in home runs, which currently stands at 42 in 2015.
As has been the case pretty much every week so far this season, several more name players were placed on the disabled list this week. Perhaps the most significant of the group is Mets RP Jeurys Familia, who underwent surgery to remove an anterior blood clot in his right shoulder. While he’ll be out for a while, the timeline isn’t as bad as the team expected. The Mets were initially concerned that Familia would be out for the season, but the surgery wasn’t as extensive as originally expected and he could be able to throw in about six weeks. That means he may miss three to four months, which means — even though that’s a significant portion of the season — he could be back in August or September if the recovery process goes as expected.
Familia, who recorded 51 saves last season. was suspended for the team’s first 15 games this season for a domestic-violence issue and hasn’t pitched particularly well since being reinstated. He has a 3.86 ERA in 11 appearances in which he is 1-1 with 3 saves in 4 chances. He has 10 strikeouts and 8 walks in 9.1 innings. RP Addison Reed is expected to get the bulk of the save opportunities in Familia’s absence.
The injury report for the Mariners’ starting rotation got worse this week. With SPs James Paxton and Felix Hernandez already on the DL, SP Hisashi Iwakuma was also placed on the DL as he deals with inflammation in his right shoulder. He is expected to miss four to six weeks. And the news on Hernandez got worse this week as he suffered a setback in his rehab. He has been sidelined since April 25 with bursitis in his right shoulder and now is not expected to rejoin the Mariners after he felt just “so-so” after a throwing session on Friday. And SP Ryan Weber, who was called up from Triple-A to start Saturday’s game, had to leave the game after four innings with tightness in his right shoulder.
Other notable players hitting the DL this week include Blue Jays C Russell Martin (shoulder) and SP Francisco Liriano (shoulder), Dodgers SP Kenta Maeda (hamstring) and OF Andrew Toles (ACL), Giants RP Mark Melancon (elbow), Phillies RP Jeanmar Gomez (elbow), White Sox C Geovany Soto (elbow), Marlins SS Adeiny Hechavarria (oblique), Rockies SS Trevor Story (shoulder), Brewers OF Ryan Braun (calf) and Yankees RP Aroldis Chapman (shoulder).
The Week Ahead
Some series to look forward to this week include the Dodgers and Giants starting a three-game series in San Francisco on Monday. A day later, the Orioles head to Detroit for three games with the Tigers and the Cardinals host the Red Sox for the first of two games. Division leaders battle with the AL Central-leading Twins hosting the NL West-topping Rockies Tuesday through Thursday. The Indians head to Houston for a series with the Astros starting Friday, and the Brewers-Cubs series gets underway at Wrigley Field that day. Friday also sees the Reds start a series at home against the Rockies.
The week opens with a matchup of aces in Cleveland on Monday with SP Chris Archer going for the Rays and SP Carlos Carrasco taking the mound for the Indians. Dodgers SP Brandon McCarthy is scheduled for his first start since April 29 on Monday when he opposes Giants SP Matt Cain in a battle of veterans. Red Sox SP Eduardo Rodriguez and Cardinals SP Lance Lynn, who are both pitching well with sub-3.00 ERAs this season, face off in St. Louis on Tuesday. Dodgers SP Clayton Kershaw takes the mound in San Francisco on Wednesday against Giants SP Johnny Cueto, and Twins SP Jose Berrios — one of the team’s top prospects — gets his second start of 2017 on Thursday at home against the Rockies and SP Tyler Chatwood. Sale gets a shot to tie the aforementioned record on Thursday, when he is scheduled to face the A’s in Oakland.