Daily Dose: Great Greinke

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Perhaps sick of watching the lowly Royals cost him victories with poor support from the bullpen and lineup, Zack Greinke took matters into his own hands Sunday with a complete-game, one-hit shutout against the Mariners. Kenji Johjima’s second-inning single was the lone hit allowed by Greinke, who struck out five and walked one while lowering his league-leading ERA to 2.32.
Greinke ranks just fifth in the AL with 13 wins and has lost eight times despite giving up more than three earned runs only four times in 27 starts, but there’s no doubt that he’s been the league’s best pitcher. He leads the AL with a 2.32 ERA, six complete games, three shutouts, and a 1.08 WHIP while ranking behind only Justin Verlander with 202 strikeouts and second to only CC Sabathia with 190.1 innings.
If ever there was a time to ignore a pitcher’s win-loss record, this is it. Kansas City’s lineup ranks second-worst in the AL and Greinke has received less run support than any starter in the league. Beyond that the Royals’ bullpen ranks dead last in the AL with a 5.15 ERA and the team has gone just 37-66 when Greinke isn’t on the mound, which is a 104-loss pace. Don’t let his team’s awfulness mask his greatness.
While the Cy Young voters hopefully take notice of Greinke’s amazing year, here are some other notes from around baseball …


* Chad Qualls has been solid as Arizona’s closer, posting a 3.63 ERA and 45/7 K/BB ratio in 52 innings, and converted his 24th save in 29 tries Sunday. Unfortunately it may be his final save of the year, as he suffered a dislocated kneecap while twisting to deflect a ground ball up the middle on the game’s last play. Qualls collapsed into a heap on the mound before the trainer popped his knee back into place. Not pretty.
He’s scheduled to undergo an MRI exam Monday, at which point the Diamondbacks should know whether he’ll be able to pitch again this year. Jon Rauch had been the primary setup man in Arizona all season and would’ve been in line for saves, but the Diamondbacks dealt him to the Twins on Friday. Juan Gutierrez seems likely to get the nod despite being a rookie with a 4.29 ERA and 55/27 K/BB ratio in 57 innings.
* After taking three weeks to get his 38-year-old arm back into pitching shape, Paul Byrd made his Red Sox debut Sunday with six shutout innings against the Blue Jays. While he was using just 83 pitches to record 18 outs, Daisuke Matsuzaka struggled in a rehab start at Double-A, giving up five runs in two innings. Matsuzaka appeared on track to rejoin the rotation on September 9, but those plans may have changed.
* Jake Peavy’s eventual White Sox debut has been delayed further after he departed a minor-league rehab start over the weekend with elbow soreness. Peavy is on the disabled list because of an ankle injury, but his elbow became a bigger concern after he was hit by a line drive during a rehab outing last week. He lasted just 3.1 innings while trying to pitch through the discomfort and will be examined further Monday.
AL Quick Hits: Roy Halladay lost Sunday for the sixth time in his last 10 starts … As planned, Joba Chamberlain was removed from Sunday’s start after just three innings and 35 pitches … Fresh off the disabled list, Akinori Iwamura went deep Sunday off Justin Verlander for his first homer in 155 at-bats … John Lackey allowed just an unearned run over eight innings Sunday, slicing his ERA below 4.00 … Brian Matusz turned in his first gem Sunday, striking out eight and walking one in seven innings of one-run ball … Mark Teixeira homered Sunday to become the first AL player to crack 100 RBIs … Ryan Rowland-Smith took a tough-luck loss Sunday, striking out seven in eight innings of three-run ball … Kendry Morales smacked his 10th homer of the month and 30th homer of the season Sunday … Jorge Posada returned to the lineup Sunday and plans to play through his finger injury.
NL Quick Hits: Adam Wainwright notched his MLB-best 16th victory with six innings of one-run ball Sunday … Edgar Renteria hit a go-winning grand slam Sunday as the Giants tied the Rockies for the Wild Card lead … Nelson Figueroa had a career-high 10 strikeouts Sunday, allowing just one run in seven innings … Troy Tulowitzki went 4-for-5 and matched a career-high with his 24th homer Sunday … Washington dealt Ronnie Belliard to Los Angeles for Single-A reliever Luis Garcia and a player to be named later … Randy Johnson (shoulder) has been playing catch from flat ground and could return in September as a reliever … Justin Upton homered Sunday and is now 9-for-20 with four extra-base hits since returning from the disabled list … Carlos Zambrano gave up 10 singles and a triple before being chased after just 3.1 innings Sunday … Garrett Jones homered again Sunday, giving the minor-league veteran 16 long balls in 51 games … Clayton Kershaw racked up 11 strikeouts in a no-decision Sunday, giving him 164 on the season.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.

For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.

Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.

Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.

The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.