Cubs closer Carlos Marmol piling up strikeouts at historic rate

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Carlos Marmol picked up his 16th save of the season last night by striking out five of the seven batters he faced, giving him an amazing 77 strikeouts in 40.2 innings on the year. To put that in some context, consider that Nick Blackburn, John Lannan, and Brad Bergesen have combined for 78 strikeouts this season … in 234 innings.
Not only is 77 strikeouts in 40.2 innings by far the best rate of Marmol’s career–which is saying something given that he’s had double-digit strikeouts per nine innings in each of the past three years–it would be the highest strikeout rate in baseball history among pitchers with at least 50 innings in a season.
Here’s how Marmol would fit into the current leaderboard:

                    YEAR      SO/9
CARLOS MARMOL       2010     17.04
Eric Gagne          2003     14.98
Billy Wagner        1999     14.95
Brad Lidge          2004     14.93
Armando Benitez     1999     14.77
Billy Wagner        1998     14.55
Billy Wagner        1997     14.38

No pitcher in baseball history has ever managed to crack 15 strikeouts per nine innings, yet Marmol is currently at 17.04. Amazing.

Video: Andrew Toles hammers grand slam in Cactus League win

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Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.

Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).

Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.

David Price’s season debut could be pushed back to May

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David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.

Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.

The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.