Gomes' walkoff homer wins a pitchers' duel for the Reds

Leave a comment

Jason Motte.jpgI spent the last 20 minutes reading Masters coverage in which sportswriters talk about how wonderful it is that Player X is leading Player Y because we know a lot about Player Y’s sex life and disapprove of it.  Thank God for day baseball.

Best game of the early going today: Reds-Cardinals.  It was a pitcher’s duel, with Bronson Arroyo and Brad Penny looking sharp. The former have up one run over eight innings, the latter one run over seven.  I am obligated to report that Bronson Arroyo “helped his own cause” by knocking in an RBI single, which means that this pitcher has been just as productive as the second richest team in baseball’s designated hitter this season.

The kicker, though was Jonny Gomes hitting a homer to left in the bottom of the ninth off Jason Motte to end it. Jason Motte, by the way, throws really hard. Unfortunately he throws really straight and thus gives up a lot of home runs. He threw six straight hard ones to Gomes. Gomes is a dead-red hitter.  Maybe not the best matchup in the history of La Russaville.

Silver lining for Cardinals fans? Brad Penny. While the line score was nice, even nicer was the fact that he got 13 ground ball outs and only four fly ball outs. If that pattern holds, he’s going to have a nice season.

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

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.