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.

Erik Johnson likely to open 2016 in the White Sox rotation

DENVER, CO - APRIL 09:  Starting pitcher Erik Johnson #45 of the Chicago White Sox delivers against the Colorado Rockies during Interleague play at Coors Field on April 9, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the White Sox 10-4.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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With the White Sox losing Jeff Samardzija to free agency, Erik Johnson will likely get a shot to contribute out of the rotation to open up the 2016 season, GM Rick Hahn said in a conference call on Wednesday, per a report from MLB.com’s Scott Merkin.

“As we sit here today, I think it will be an opportunity for Erik Johnson to convert on sort of the return to form he showed back in 2015 when he was International League pitcher of the year for [Triple-A] Charlotte,” Hahn said. “Obviously, he got some starts in September and continued to show the progress in Chicago he had shown in the Minor Leagues over the course of the last season.

“So if Opening Day were today, then I think Johnson is penciled in to that spot in the rotation right now. In all probability, once we get closer to spring, there will be some competition for him to earn that spot. But if we were strictly looking at today, then I would think Johnson has the inside track on filling Samardzija’s innings.”

Johnson was called up from Triple-A Charlotte in September and made six starts, allowing 14 runs (13 earned) on 32 hits and 17 walks with 30 strikeouts in 35 innings. That followed up an impressive five months in the minors where he compiled a 2.37 ERA and a 136/41 K/BB ratio across 132 2/3 innings.

Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB.com each included Johnson on their top-100 prospect lists, ranking him 63rd, 67th, and 70th, respectively. The right-hander was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2011 draft.

Major League Baseball will investigate Yasiel Puig for his role in Miami nightclub brawl

Yasiel Puig
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

It was reported on Friday afternoon that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was involved in a brawl at a Miami nightclub. Details were scant at the time, but he reportedly left with a bruise on his face.

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Major League Baseball plans to investigate Puig under the league’s new domestic violence policy for his role in the brawl. Citing a report from TMZ, Hernandez notes that Puig shoved his sister, “brutally sucker-punched” the manager of the bar, and instigated the brawl.

The Dodgers and Puig’s agent have thus far refused to comment on the situation.

Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes was the first player to be investigated under the league’s new domestic violence policy earlier this month, as he allegedly assaulted his wife. Reyes has pleaded not guilty after he was charged with domestic abuse in Hawaii.

As our own Craig Calcaterra pointed out, commissioner Rob Manfred does not need to wait for Puig to plead guilty or to be found guilty to levy a punishment.

Dayan Viciedo close to signing with Japan’s Chunichi Dragons

Dayan Viciedo
AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
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Patrick Newman is reporting that the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and outfielder Dayan Viciedo are close to an agreement on a contract. Newman notes that the Dragons are close to signing pitcher Jordan Norberto as well.

Viciedo, 26, has struggled since making his major league debut in 2010 with the White Sox, batting an aggregate .254/.298/.424 with 66 home runs and 211 RBI in 1,798 plate appearances. He spent the 2015 season with Triple-A Charlotte (White Sox) and Nashville (Athletics), hitting a composite .287/.348/.450. While Viciedo can hit the occasional home run, he hasn’t shown the ability to do much else at the big league level. Given his age, he could prove himself in Japan and parlay that into a renewed shot in the majors in the future.

The White Sox signed Viciedo out of Cuba in December 2008, agreeing to a four-year, $10 million deal. The club re-signed him to one-year deals in 2013 and ’14 for $2.8 million each and $4.4 million ahead of the 2015 season.

Blue Jays sign J.A. Happ to a three-year, $36 million contract

J.A. Happ
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Update (8:45 PM EST): Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Happ will get $10 million in 2016 and $13 million each in 2017 and ’18.


MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the Blue Jays have signed lefty J.A. Happ to a three-year deal worth $36 million.

Happ, 33, had a rebirth as a member of the Pirates last season after starting the season with 20 subpar starts with the Mariners. He made 11 starts for the Buccos, boasting a 1.85 ERA with a 69/13 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported this past August that Happ’s newfound success had to do with a delivery tweak suggested by Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. The Blue Jays are certainly hoping that adjustment is the full explanation for his success.

The Jays’ signing of Happ most likely signifies they won’t be pursuing free agent lefty David Price.

This will be Happ’s second stint with the Blue Jays. The Astros dealt him to Toronto in a July 2012 trade. He posted a 4.39 ERA with a 256/113 K/BB ratio in 291 innings with the Jays, then went to the Mariners in a trade this past December that brought outfielder Michael Saunders to the Jays.