Daily Dose: Braun ruins Hanson's debut

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Tommy Hanson’s much-anticipated MLB debut was a bust Sunday as
Milwaukee got to the 22-year-old right-hander for seven runs, including
three homers. Ryan Braun took Hanson deep twice, as the NL’s top
pitching prospect discovered that big-league hitters can do plenty of
damage on 95-mph fastballs. Despite the poor outing, Hanson actually
looked impressive between the long balls.

He struck out five and walked one in six innings, regularly working
at 93-95 miles per hour with his fastball and throwing his breaking
ball for strikes quite a bit. His pitches also had far more movement
than most mid-90s fastballs, although that got Hanson into trouble a
few times when the ball sliced back over the plate. His debut obviously
didn’t go as planned, but Hanson remains an ace in waiting.

Prior to being called up he posted a 1.50 ERA and 90/17 K/BB ratio
in 66 innings at Triple-A, and Hanson had a 2.41 ERA and 163/53 K/BB
ratio over 138 innings between high Single-A and Double-A last season.
Put it together and he’s racked up 253 strikeouts while allowing just
125 hits over 204 innings since the start of 2008, with the only real
blemish being–as shown Sunday–a high fly-ball rate.

While the Brewers and Braun welcome Hanson to the show, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* San Diego and Arizona played a crazy game Sunday afternoon, as the
Padres forced extra innings by scoring five runs in the bottom of the
ninth only to see the Diamondbacks’ bullpen toss a no-hitter for nine
innings during extra frames. San Diego eventually turned to utility
infielder Josh Wilson to pitch the 18th and Mark Reynolds took him deep
for a three-run homer as Arizona prevailed 9-6.

Amusingly, Wilson pitched for Arizona in a blowout earlier this year
before being claimed off waivers by San Diego. “When he pitched for us
he threw all fastballs, so you figure he has some kind of wrinkle,”
Reynolds said. “He threw a curveball up there and I laid off some high
fastballs, and he left one out over the plate and I was able to barrel
it up.”

* Vince Mazzaro debuted last week with 6.1 shutout innings against
Chicago and followed that up by holding Baltimore scoreless for 7.1
innings Sunday. Mazzaro used some smoke and mirrors in his debut,
managing just one strikeout with four walks, but totaled five
strikeouts with zero walks Sunday. Despite his great start, I’m still
skeptical about his missing enough bats to be a mixed-league asset now.

* Ricky Nolasco rejoined the Marlins’ rotation Sunday after a brief
demotion to Triple-A and pitched well versus the Giants, allowing three
runs in seven innings. He earned the trip back to the minors by going
2-5 with a hideous 9.07 ERA over nine starts, but with a 37/13 K/BB
ratio he pitched much better than that and was hurt by some awful
defense behind him. That may not change, but he’ll be solid.

AL Quick Hits: Roy Halladay improved to 10-1 with his third
complete-game win of the season Sunday … J.D. Drew missed both weekend
games with a shoulder injury that required a cortisone shot … Miguel
Cabrera left Sunday’s game after aggravating his hamstring injury and
replacement Clete Thomas ended up hitting a game-winning grand slam …
Kevin Slowey served up three homers Sunday to snap his streak of five
straight Quality Starts … Nelson Cruz missed the cycle by a single
Sunday and is now tied for the AL lead with 17 homers … Rich Hill had
seven shutout innings in his last start, but failed to make it out of
the first inning Sunday while walking four … Marcus Thames (ribs) came
off the disabled list Sunday and should get regular starts … Evan
Longoria (hamstring) pinch-hit Sunday with a game-ending ground out off
Mariano Rivera.

NL Quick Hits: Chipper Jones went 4-for-4 with a pair of homers
Sunday, driving in five runs … Livan Hernandez shut out the Nationals
for seven innings Sunday and is now 5-1 with a 3.88 ERA after last
season’s 6.05 mark … Ubaldo Jimenez had eight innings of two-run ball
Sunday, whiffing nine and walking one … Casey Kotchman (shin) went on
the disabled list Sunday, leaving Martin Prado to start at first base …
Rich Harden (back) was scratched from Sunday’s rehab start due to a
stomach virus … Stephen Drew had four hits Sunday and has boosted his
batting average from .190 to .248 over the past 11 games … Tim Lincecum
took a one-hitter into the eighth inning Sunday before giving up two
runs … Andrew McCutchen notched three hits Sunday, making him 6-for-16
with four RBIs …Out since Wednesday with a strained hamstring, Willy
Taveras pinch-hit Sunday and then stayed in the game defensively.

The stats show the Pirates as an outlier in throwing “headhunter” pitches

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 5: Reliever Arquimedes Caminero #37 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh inning at Busch Stadium on September 5, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Last week at ESPN Sweetspot’s Inside the Zona, Ryan Morrison looked into the data and found that the Pirates stand out among the rest when it comes to throwing “headhunter” pitches. Those are defined as fastballs 3.2 feet or higher and 1.2 feet towards the batter from the center of the plate.

The research was prompted because Diamondbacks second baseman Jean Segura was hit in the helmet by Pirates reliever Arquimedes Caminero last Tuesday in the seventh inning. The next inning, Caminero hit shortstop Nick Ahmed in the jaw with a pitch and was instantly ejected.

Morrison illustrated the data in a nice chart, which you should check out. The Pirates have thrown 93 of those pitches, which is way more than any other team. The next closest team is the Reds at 68 pitches. The major league average is approximately 48 pitches.

The Pirates have had an organizational philosophy of pitching inside since at least 2013, as MLB.com’s Tom Singer quoted manager Clint Hurdle as saying, “We’re not trying to hurt people, just staying in with conviction.”

Morrison goes on to suggest that the Diamondbacks should have forfeited last Wednesday and Thursday’s games against the Pirates in protest, out of concern for their players’ safety. As it happened, the D-Backs lost both games anyway, suffering a series sweep. The two clubs don’t meet again this season.

D-Backs manager Chip Hale said after last Tuesday’s game that Caminero “shouldn’t be at this level”. Caminero responded to those comments today, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. “I’m actually glad you asked me about that,” Caminero said. “The only thing I’ve got to say about (Hale) is that he is a perfect manager. And he was a perfect player, too. That’s it. I know what I did wasn’t good, but it happens in baseball. I wasn’t trying to hit anyone.”

I realize I’m late on pointing out Morrison’s terrific article and the whole debacle between the two teams, but I felt it was worth highlighting.

Jose Bautista: “I’d be stupid to leave” Toronto

TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 29: Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jayshits a two-run home run in the fifth inning during MLB game action against the Boston Red Sox on May 29, 2016 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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Also included in a recent report on Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista by Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated — along with his belief that Rougned Odor was the only bad guy in the May 15 debacle — was the slugger’s desire to remain a Blue Jay. Per Verducci, Bautista said, “I love the city. I’d be stupid to leave” Toronto.

Bautista, 35, is in the final year of a five-year, $65 million extension signed in February 2011. Back in November, the Jays exercised their 2016 club option for $14 million. Bautista isn’t willing to discuss contract details during the season, so the two sides will have to wait until at least October to come to an agreement.

Entering Tuesday’s game against the Yankees, Bautista is hitting .237/.371/.489 with 11 home runs, 37 RBI, and 40 walks, the latter of which leads the American League.

Jose Reyes to begin a rehab assignment on Wednesday

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 18:  Jose Reyes #7 of the Colorado Rockies advances to second base on a wild throw from Starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann of the Washington Nationals during the first inning at Coors Field on August 18, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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Rockies shortstop will join Triple-A Albuquerque to begin a rehab assignment, manager Walt Weiss said on Tuesday, per MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. Reyes was suspended through May 31 for an offseason domestic violence incident, effectively a 51-game suspension.

During the offseason, Reyes allegedly grabbed his wife by the neck and shoved her into a sliding glass door in the midst of an argument. Reyes pled not gulity and the charges against him were eventually dropped because his wife was uncooperative with authorities. It is not uncommon for an abuser’s significant other to be uncooperative with authorities due to the fear of further retaliation if the abuser suffers any consequences, such as losing his job.

Reyes has spent the last two weeks getting into baseball shape at the Rockies’ spring training complex in Arizona and he’ll likely need another couple of weeks in the minors. Rookie shortstop Trevor Story has cooled off significantly since a blistering hot start to the season, but has still played well enough to warrant the Rockies not forcing him to concede his starting role to Reyes.

The Rockies acquired Reyes from the Blue Jays on July 28 last year along with Miguel Castro and two minor leaguers in exchange for Troy Tulowitzki and LaTroy Hawkins.

Padres catcher Christian Bethancourt just pitched, and he reached 96 MPH

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 26:  Catcher Christian Bethancourt #12 of the San Diego Padres poses for a portrait during spring training photo day at Peoria Sports Complex on February 26, 2016 in Peoria, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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The Mariners’ offense ran roughshod over Padres starter James Shields on Tuesday afternoon, knocking him out after 2 2/3 innings. The right-hander surrendered 10 runs.

It didn’t get much better for the Padres from there. The Mariners would score twice more in the fourth and four times in the fifth to take a commanding 16-0 lead. The Padres clawed back for a trio of runs in the sixth and one more in the seventh, but the lead was essentially insurmountable.

Unsurprisingly, the Padres opted to use a position player to soak up at least one inning, so catcher Christian Bethancourt took the mound to begin the eighth. Bethancourt had trouble finding the strike zone, but he was consistently hitting the mid-90’s with his fastball, which was impressive. He sandwiched a pair of fly outs with a walk, but then he lost all semblance of control. He walked Norichika Aoki, then hit Seth Smith with a 59 MPH knuckleball. Yes, you read that right: a knuckleball.

Manager Andy Green relieved Bethancourt with infielder Alexi Amarista, and Bethancourt moved to second base. Amarista got Shawn O’Malley to ground out with the bases loaded to end the inning.

Though Bethancourt’s results weren’t the greatest, it was still fun to watch him pitch.