Kenshin Kawakami is the unluckiest pitcher in the world

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Braves right-hander Kenshin Kawakami is providing this season’s best example of why wins and losses for individual pitchers are so often misleading (or worse). He lost to the Rays yesterday, falling to 0-9 despite a decent 4.42 ERA, six Quality Starts in 13 tries, and zero outings with more than five runs allowed.
To put that in some context, consider: Johnny Cueto is 6-1 with a 4.50 ERA. John Lackey is 7-3 with a 4.54 ERA. Dan Haren is 7-4 with a 4.61 ERA. Freddy Garcia is 7-3 with a 4.94 ERA. Nick Blackburn is 6-3 with a 4.96 ERA. Brian Bannister is 6-4 with a 5.40 ERA.
Even his rotation-mate Derek Lowe is 8-5 with a 4.81 ERA. In fact, a total of 20 pitchers have at least five wins despite an ERA higher than Kawakami. Not surprisingly Kawakami has received terrible support from the Braves’ lineup, bullpen, and defense.
He ranks ninth-worst in run support, third-worst in bullpen support, and errors behind him have also accounted for six unearned runs. It always bothers me when announcers talk about pitchers who “know how to win” because their win-loss record is better than their other numbers would suggest, and unfortunate guys like Kawakami at the other end of the spectrum are why.

Tigers sign Edwin Espinal to minor league deal

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Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.

Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.

Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.