Rookie hurlers Cahill, Porcello having interesting seasons

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A’s rookie Trevor Cahill set a new team record for most home runs allowed at home by serving up his 20th bomb at the Oakland Coliseum last night. Cahill has allowed 20 homers in 100.2 innings at home, but just six homers in 57.2 innings on the road, which is odd given that Oakland’s ballpark typically suppresses power.
Cahill leads all rookies with 158.1 innings, but is just 8-12 with a 4.66 ERA and sub par 79/64 K/BB ratio as a 21-year-old. He’s also served up 26 total homers in 28 starts despite inducing the ninth-most ground balls in the league. One out of every seven fly balls hit against Cahill have gone over the fence, which is the third-worst rate in the AL ahead of only Josh Beckett and fellow rookie Rick Porcello.
And speaking of Porcello, he tossed seven strong innings yesterday for this 12th victory, becoming just the 13th pitcher in the last 50 years to win a dozen or more games as a 20-year-old. Dwight Gooden sits atop that list with an amazing, Cy Young-winning 1985 season that saw him go 24-5 with a 1.53 ERA, 268 strikeouts, .201 opponents’ batting average, 16 complete games, and eight shutouts. As a 20-year-old!
Porcello’s numbers obviously pale in comparison, but he’s been very solid with a 12-8 record and 4.18 ERA in 25 starts. He’s managed just 72 strikeouts in 135.2 innings, but has succeeded while pitching to contact because no pitcher in the league has induced as many ground balls. Porcello is at 56 percent grounders, and Roy Halladay, Felix Hernandez, and Ricky Romero are the only other guys above 50 percent.

Shohei Otani may come to the United States after 2017

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Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?

Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.

It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.

Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.

Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.

The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.