Last week various reports surfaced that the Diamondbacks don’t plan to exercise the $8.5 million option on Brandon Webb for 2010 and would instead attempt to work out a new, incentive-laden deal for the injured right-hander.
Those plans hit a major snag Tuesday when Webb said that he’s not willing to take a discount to remain in Arizona “if it comes down to that and they ask me to do something like that.”
While paying $8.5 million for Webb next season is a huge risk for the Diamondbacks given that he hasn’t pitched since Opening Day thanks to a shoulder injury, it doesn’t make much sense for him to accept a below-market deal when big-payroll teams like the Yankees and Red Sox would definitely take fliers on him being healthy. As he put it: “I’d have to see what else is out there and see if there’s something better.”
While the Diamondbacks learn that declining the $8.5 million will likely mean the end of Webb’s time in Arizona, here are some other notes from around baseball …
* Zack Greinke moved one step closer to the Cy Young award by picking up his 15th victory with six shutout innings Tuesday. Greinke has clearly been the league’s best pitcher this season, but it remains unclear if Cy Young voters will look past a modest win total due largely to horrendous teammates. Fifteen victories and an MLB-leading 2.08 ERA will hopefully do the trick, and he likely has a couple more starts left.
* Already sidelined by a strained calf, Kevin Kouzmanoff is now suffering from a sore back and may not be able to return this season. Chase Headley has looked good at third base in his absence, hitting .349 with seven extra-base hits in 11 games back at the spot he played in the minors. Kouzmanoff has long been linked to various trade rumors and the Padres seem more likely than ever to pull the trigger this winter.
* Three months ago the Cardinals signed 16-year-old outfielder Wagner Mateo out of the Dominican Republic for $3.1 million, but the contract was voided Tuesday based on the “pre-existing injuries and physical defects” clause relating to a vision problem. Wagner is now free to sign with any team and will surely land somewhere for a solid chunk of change, but won’t get the second-largest Latin American bonus ever again.
AL Quick Hits: Bobby Jenks may be done for the year after aggravating his calf injury Tuesday … Michael Young (hamstring) had trouble simply jogging Monday and is no sure thing to play again this season … Denard Span missed Tuesday’s game with the side effects from being plunked on the helmet Monday, so Carlos Gomez played center field and led off in his place … Edwin Jackson tossed seven shutout innings Tuesday amid speculation that he’s been tipping pitches recently … Glen Perkins will get a second opinion on his injured shoulder from Dr. Lewis Yocum … Brian Roberts smacked his MLB-leading 55th double Tuesday, tying Lance Berkman’s record for a switch-hitter … Matt LaPorta exited Tuesday’s game after injuring his hip sliding into home plate … Josh Hamilton (glute) may return as soon as this weekend after taking batting practice and shagging fly balls Tuesday … Billy Butler’s batting average has dipped below .300, but he’s still close to some big-time company.
NL Quick Hits: Jair Jurrjens is 4-0 with a 1.60 ERA against the Mets this season after Tuesday’s gem … Joe Blanton threw seven shutout innings Tuesday, allowing three or fewer runs for the 14th time in 15 starts … Chris Snyder will undergo back surgery Wednesday, but should be ready for spring training … Aaron Cook (shoulder) is set to rejoin the rotation Friday after missing over a month … Angel Guzman (triceps) has been shut down for the year after posting a 2.95 ERA and 47/23 K/BB ratio in 61 innings … Brian McCann left Tuesday’s game with a bruised wrist … Despite leaving his last outing after just three innings, J.A. Happ will make his scheduled Thursday start … Carlos Gonzalez left Tuesday’s game after straining his hamstring on a triple, with Seth Smith replacing him … Gary Sheffield said Tuesday that he plans to play in 2010 at the age of 41 … Brett Myers (shoulder) will be shut down for one week after an MRI exam showed a Grade 1 strain … Willy Taveras returned from the disabled list Tuesday after missing over a month.
The Cubs obliterated the Dodgers in Game 6 of the NLCS, riding nine shutout innings to their first pennant win since 1945. Here’s what you should know about their historic finish:
- By virtue of the Cubs’ 71-year World Series drought, Jon Lester and Javier Baez became the club’s first and only postseason MVPs in franchise history. The World Series MVP award was first distributed in 1955, while the NLCS MVP awards have been issued since 1977.
- Lester and Baez are also the first co-MVPs of the Championship Series since the 1990 Reds celebrated left-hander Randy Myers and right-hander Rob “Nasty Boy” Dibble following the team’s ninth pennant win (per MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch).
- Anthony Rizzo’s fifth inning solo shot in Game 6 tied him with Miguel Cabrera, Alex Gonzalez, and Kyle Schwarber for the most postseason homers hit at Wrigley Field, with three (per Comcast SportsNet’s Christopher Kamka).
- Rizzo and Willson Contreras’ home runs were the first Clayton Kershaw had given up in the playoffs since Game 4 of the 2015 NLDS. The twin blasts also accounted for a fifth of the total home runs Kershaw had given up in 2016.
- Clayton Kershaw’s Game Score of 33 was not only the lowest the left-hander had put up since the start of the 2015 season, but the lowest the Cubs had seen from an opposing pitcher in the postseason since 1989. During Game 4 of the 1989 NLCS, Giants’ right-hander Scott Garrelts pitched 4 2/3 innings with eight hits, four runs, and two homers en route to a 6-4 loss and a 33 Game Score.
- By contrast, Kyle Hendricks’ Game Score of 86 was the third-highest among Cubs’ postseason starters, ranking just below Jake Arrieta’s 11-strikeout complete game during the 2015 wild card tiebreaker and Orval Overall’s three-hitter in Game 5 of the 1908 World Series.
- The last major league season to feature an ERA leader on the Cubs’ roster was 1945, also the last season in which the Cubs rode to the World Series. In 2016, the MLB ERA leader is Game 6 winner Kyle Hendricks (2.13 ERA); in ‘45, it was left-hander Ray Prim (2.40 ERA), who capped a dominant year with a loss against the Tigers in Game 4 of the World Series and blown save in Game 6.
- Not to be overlooked in the lefty’s gem on Saturday night: Hendricks and Aroldis Chapman combined to face the minimum number of batters, at 27. According to MLB Stat of the Day, only the 1956 Yankees had also faced the minimum batters in a postseason game, though they did it with just a bit more panache.
- With Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, Albert Almora Jr., Javier Baez, and Addison Russell penciled into the lineup, the Cubs became the first MLB team to utilize five starters under 25 years old to clinch the NLCS (also via MLB Stat of the Day).
- If you want to talk postseason drought, the Cubs-Indians World Series will set a precedent for combined championship-less streaks, at 174 years between the two clubs (per ESPN Stats & Info).
- Speaking of unpleasant streaks, there’s this: with the Dodgers’ loss in the NLCS, they’ve now gone to the postseason four consecutive times without participating in a World Series showdown. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, that’s a first in major league history.
After 71 years, the Cubs are headed back to the Fall Classic.
The dominance with which Clayton Kershaw attacked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS was nonexistent in Game 6 as the Dodgers’ ace loaded the bases to start the first inning and scattered five extra bases and five runs over five frames. By the time Dave Roberts pulled his starter in the sixth inning, Kershaw was sitting on a Game Score of 33, the lowest he’s mustered since the start of the 2015 season. Only one of his strikes came via curveball, and whether he was having difficulty locating his off-speed stuff or felt more confident with the fastball-slider combo, it was the fewest curves he’d seen land for strikes all year (per David Adler).
Where the Dodgers were able to give Kershaw the edge in Game 2, they found themselves powerless against opposing hurler Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks turned out 7 1/3 scoreless frames with two hits and six strikeouts, preserving the Cubs’ second shutout of the postseason and the first since they bested the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. After his 1-0 loss to the Dodgers early in the NLCS, seeing the MLB ERA leader turn out a gem was a relief for the Cubs, especially one as spectacular as an 88-pitch two-hitter.
With Hendricks effectively stymieing the Dodgers’ best attempts to get on base, the Cubs played to their strengths at the plate. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist cleared the bases in the first inning for a two-run lead, followed by a Dexter Fowler RBI single in the second. Willson Contreras came through in the fourth inning for the Cubs, lifting an 87 m.p.h. slider to left field for his first home run of October, while Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth.
Neither bullpen allowed a single run from the sixth inning onward. Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen took the ball from Kershaw in the sixth, scattering four strikeouts over three innings and denying the Cubs so much as a single baserunner through the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, meanwhile, issued just one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless frames, inducing a Yasiel Puig double play to clinch the Cubs’ 17th franchise pennant.
With the win, the Cubs will face off against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8 PM EDT. And, in case you needed a reminder: