The Cubs sign Ryan: low risk, potentially high reward, still kind of depressing

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The Cubs made it official and signed B.J. Ryan to a minor league deal:

Left-handed reliever B.J. Ryan’s loss of velocity and command might
be the Cubs’ gain if he can regain his form in the minor leagues. The
Cubs signed the two-time All-Star to a minor-league contract Thursday
after the Toronto Blue Jays released him last week. Ryan had 1½ years
remaining on his five-year, $47 million contract. That’s a sign of how
far Ryan’s stock has fallen during his second season after having Tommy
John surgery on his left elbow. His velocity is said to be in the low
80s. But for a Cubs team that needs left-handed bullpen depth, the move
represents a no-risk, potentially high-upside signing if Ryan can
regain some level of major-league form.

Definitely a low-risk move for the Cubbies that, if it pays off, will
pay off handsomely. I mean, it’s not too long ago that Ryan was a
fantastic pitcher and stranger rebounds have happened. Even with the
Cubs very recently: remember how bad Jim Edmonds was with the Padres at
the beginning of last year (.178/.265/.233) and remember how good he
was after coming to Chicago following his release (.256/.369/.568)?
That’s certainly the analogy/wish smart Cubs fans I know are making today.

Another analogy: this is the Cubs trying once again to solve a problem
they didn’t need to have. Just as they signed Ryan Freel and then Jeff
Baker in an effort to fill the hole left by the absence of Mark DeRosa,
the Ryan move, among others, is aimed at filling a bullpen hole created
by the absence of Kerry Wood. Which isn’t to suggest that the Cubs
should have kept those guys — they would have been really expensive to
keep around — but it must be disheartening for Cubs fans to see the
team continuing to shovel dirt into the same holes, over and over
again.

Anthony Alford to miss 4-6 weeks following wrist surgery

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Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.

Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.

Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.

Stephen Strasburg hit a new career high today

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Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.

It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.

While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.

The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”