Randy Wolf served up five homers to the Cubs yesterday, joining Justin Lehr as the only NL pitchers to allow five homers in a game during the past five seasons.
Marlon Byrd and Geovany Soto both took him deep twice and Derrek Lee blasted his 300th career homer off Wolf, who has now allowed 15 long balls through 13 starts in the first season of a three-year, $30 million contract.
Afterward the 33-year-old southpaw was pretty tough on himself:
This is awful. It’s one of those times when you feel like you’ll wake up and it’s a bad dream. But it’s not. It’s reality. I have to deal with it and try to get better. I’m making a lot of mistakes out there and I’m not getting away with any of them. I’m better than that. I’ve just got to find a way to get better than that. I haven’t pitched well yet in my mind. It’s frustrating because I don’t feel any different than I did last year. The results definitely aren’t there. I’ve got to do something to get better results than I’m getting right now.
Wolf is now 4-6 with a 5.31 ERA and 49/39 K/BB ratio in 78 innings overall this season, which can’t make the Brewers feel good about owing him another $9.5 million in both 2011 and 2012 with a $10 million option or $1.5 million buyout for his age 36 season in 2013. Not quite Jeff Suppan territory yet, but he’s going in that direction and the Brewers may want to take a little break from signing non-elite, over-30 free agent starters.
Amid the din and clatter of the Cubs’ National League championship on Saturday night, one member of the 2016 squad found himself celebrating 1,710 miles away in Mesa, Arizona. Kyle Schwarber, whose remarkable recovery from torn ligaments in his left knee appears to be fast-tracking him toward a World Series appearance, was showered in champagne by his fellow Arizona Fall League teammates following the Cubs’ clinch.
According to FanRag Sports’ Tommy Stokke, the celebration wasn’t a total surprise: Schwarber had been following the Cubs-Dodgers action on an iPad from the dugout of Sloan Park.
Schwarber appeared in the Mesa Solar Sox’ 7-2 loss to the Salt River Rafters on Saturday, giving Cubs’ brass another look before they decide whether or not to assign him an active role on the World Series team. The 23-year-old batted second in the DH spot, going 0-for-3 with a walk and lining out sharply to Rockies’ center fielder Noel Cuevas in his third and final at-bat. While his knee did not appear to be ailing him (if anything, Stokke noted, the outfielder was dealing with a number of blisters on his hands), Schwarber took it easy on the basepaths and was not exercised in the field. He’s expected to fill the same role if he makes it into the Cubs’ lineup next week.
With their 2016 season and 11-game playoff run in the books, the Dodgers are refocusing their attention on the upcoming 2017 season. Two outstanding performers, third baseman Justin Turner and right-handed closer Kenley Jansen, are on the cusp of free agency heading into the offseason. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the Dodgers intend to make qualifying offers to both Turner and Jansen, but may not be prepared to go the distance to keep both of them on the 2017 roster.
Turner finished his third season in Los Angeles with a .275/.339/.493 batting line and a career-best 27 home runs, riding a hot streak that made him one of the most productive players on the Dodgers’ squad this October. He started in all 11 games of the NLDS and NLCS, engineering a .286 average and two home runs — one of which was the difference-maker in a 4-3 win during Game 1 of the NLDS. His glove has become a much-needed asset within the Dodgers’ organization as well, as he currently ranks sixth among qualified third basemen with seven Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and second with a 14.1 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) in 2016.
While Turner’s production rate suggests that he’s made a full recovery from the microfracture procedure he underwent in 2015, the Dodgers appear to have reservations about the 31-year-old’s age. Heyman indicated that the veteran infielder prefers to stay in Los Angeles, but the chances of the Dodgers jumping into a fierce bidding war appear to be low for the time being.
Jansen, on the other hand, is expected to incur more interest from the club. The right-hander commanded a 1.83 ERA and 9.45 K/BB rate through 68 2/3 innings in the regular season and was instrumental in closing the door on five wins during the postseason. His 3.2 fWAR performance in 2016 made him the most valuable reliever in the major leagues, eclipsing fellow standouts like the Indians’ Andrew Miller and the Cubs’ Aroldis Chapman. Assuming the Dodgers are as serious about retaining Jansen as they were about pursuing Chapman during the 2015 offseason, the 29-year-old closer should stand a decent chance of returning to Los Angeles for another season.
Should the Dodgers fail to match an offer levied to either Turner or Jansen, they’ll receive compensation in the form of unprotected draft picks.