Dodgers sign Russ Ortiz, for some reason

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According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, the Dodgers have signed right-hander Russ Ortiz and outfielder Michael Restovich to minor league contracts with invites to Spring Training.

Ortiz, 35, was 3-6 with a 5.57 ERA and 1.67 WHIP in 23 games (13
starts) with the Astros in 2009, his first full season back from Tommy
John surgery, but was released by the club in July. The Dodgers have
lost Randy Wolf, Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla this winter, so he
should get a chance to win a rotation spot, according to Gurnick.

How Ortiz keeps getting major league opportunities is positively
baffling. He has averaged 4.7 BB/9 during his career, led the league in
walks twice, and worst of all, he has tallied a 6.56 ERA since 2005.
We’re talking about the Dodgers here, the same team who gave Eric
Milton and Jason Schmidt shots in their rotation last season, but not
promising left-hander Scott Elbert. I’d like to think they wouldn’t be
this silly again, but don’t be surprised to see Elbert get similarly
shafted this season.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.