Orioles bring in Millwood to head young rotation

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It was a prerequisite to the Rangers’ signing of Rich Harden; Kevin Milllwood’s $12 million salary simply had to be stricken from the books.
To make it happen, the Rangers ate $3 million and sent the veteran to the Orioles for former closer Chris Ray and a player to be named.
Millwood is coming off his best season in his four with Texas, as he went 13-10 with a 3.67 ERA in 31 starts. It seems like he’s frequently dealt with leg problems in recent years, but he still averaged 31 starts per year as a Ranger. He’s at that same 31 even if you go back eight years.
And that’s the kind of stability the Orioles were looking to add to a rotation that’s only other sure thing is Jeremy Guthrie. They’ll accept a return to 4.00+ ERA from Millwood if he stays on 200-inning pace. And if some other young starters come along as hoped, he could be traded again at the deadline, most likely at a profit.
The key here is that the Orioles kept all of their promising young starters and instead parted with Ray, who will still intriguing but was also arbitration eligible and no longer prized by the team. The soon-to-be 28-year-old Ray saved 33 games in his first full season in the majors in 2006, but he required Tommy John surgery in Aug. 2007, missed all of 2008 and failed to bounce back as hoped last season. He ended up with a 7.27 ERA in 43 1/3 innings for the club.
The good news is that Ray didn’t leave much velocity on the table. He still throws 92-95 mph consistently. However, AL batters typically had a very easy time lining up his fastball last season, and his decision to rely more and more on his slider did him little good. A new pitching coach in Mike Maddux might be just what he needs to turn his career around and reemerge as a quality late-game reliever. Still, it’s at least as likely that he’ll be off the 40-man roster by June 1 as it is that he’ll be a major asset in the Texas pen.
In the end, both teams are getting what they wanted here. The Orioles identified Millwood as more desirable than the free agent options and got him without surrendering a key piece. The Rangers viewed Harden as a potential upgrade for their rotation and still saved $1.5 million with the rotation switch. Sounds like a good trade to me.

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.”