And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Padres 3, Dodgers 2:
Oscar Salazar had a pinch-hit walkoff single. During the game they
traded for Miguel Tejada and got $1 million in the deal from Baltimore.
Tejada is “meh” but I hope they went out for a party on that million
bucks after the game. I also hope they continued to wear the awesome
throwback mustard and brown jerseys after the game ended, because that
would make the party really hop.

Marlins 5, Giants 0: Anibal Sanchez was almost untouchable: CG, SHO 1 H, 1 BB, 8K.  Buster Posey’s hitting streak ends. The Giants should totally protest this one, though. Jorge Cantu reached twice and scored twice even though he was basically traded already as the game was going on. Let’s create an unwritten rule about that, in fact, shall we?

Nationals 5, Braves 3: I only made up that rule above so we can somehow include Adam Dunn and Matt Capps in it. I mean, sure, I know they weren’t traded during the game or anything, but Capps was traded a mere seven or eight hours after the game ended and there have been a moderate amount of rumors about Dunn, so the Nationals should have sat them out of an abundance of caution. Why no, it has nothing to do with the fact that Dunn hit a homer and Capps got the save in a game in which my rooting interest was on the losing end. Why do you ask?

Mets 4, Cardinals 0: R.A. Dickey shuts down the Cards. Where the hell has this season come from for this guy?  He couldn’t get anyone out in his previous big league stints and wasn’t even all that sharp in the minors, and now he’s 7-4 with a 2.32 ERA. I love guys like this.

Phillies 3, Diamondbacks 2: On a day they get Roy Oswalt for a song in terms of both talent and cash, they get a walkoff win in the 11th inning too. Phillies get everything they want [kicks at stuff, pouts]. For the Dbacks, Joe Saunders had a better start than any Dan Haren has had since July 4th.

Yankees 11, Indians 4: It’s pretty telling when your most effective pitcher of the night is an infielder. That was the case for Cleveland, who pressed Andy Marte into service in ninth inning of a rout. Dude threw a scoreless inning, striking out Nick Swisher. He’s had about 100 chances to stick as a third baseman in various places. Why not try to make a career out of being a mop-up man?

Rays 4, Tigers 2: The Tigers are skidding out of control. David Price gets his 14th win.

Rockies 9, Pirates 3: Ubaldo Jimenez gets his 16th win to help the Rockies snap their eight-game skid.  One more win and he ties the Rockies’ franchise record.

Orioles 6, Royals 5: Kansas City has lost 14 of 17. This bad stretch began at almost the exact moment everyone started talking about how Ned Yost had the team turned around and flying right and all that jazz. Damndest thing.

White Sox 9, Mariners 5: I was on 950 KJR in Seattle last night as this game was going on. Before they called me, I did a quick brushup on the Mariners because, hey, you never know. As soon as my spot started the host said “Mariners are playing the White Sox, but we are NOT going to talk about them because no one wants to hear anything that depressing,” or words pretty close to that. I can see that.  Two home runs for Raul Castro, by the way.

Rangers 7, Athletics 4: The Rangers complete a nice 5-2 homestand against the two teams who think they can challenge them. Only disappointment: Jorge Cantu didn’t hop a flight and pull the “two games in one day for two different teams” stunt. Because that woulda been cool.

The Yankees are paying $86 million for a one-inning reliever

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OXON HILL, MD — The Yankees signing of Aroldis Chapman late Wednesday night came as something of a surprise. And the money — $86 million — was something of a shock. Yes, we knew that Chapman was going to break the bank and likely set a record as the highest paid relief pitcher in history, but seeing it in black and white like that is still rather jarring.

In the coming days, many people who attempt to analyze and contextualize this signing will do so by pointing to the 2016 playoffs and the unconventional use of relievers by Terry Francona and the Indians and Joe Maddon of the Cubs. They’ll talk about how the paradigm of bullpen use has shifted and how relief pitchers have taken on a new importance in today’s game. Chapman’s astronomical salary, therefore, will be described as somehow more reasonable and somewhat less shocking than it first seems.

Don’t buy that jive for a second.

Yes, Andrew Miller and, to some extent, Chapman himself were used unconventionally in the 2016 playoffs, but not long into the 2017 season we will see that as an exception, not the rule. And not just because Chapman showed himself unable to hold up to that level of use in the playoffs. It will be the excaption because the Yankees have shown no inclination whatsoever to deviate from traditional bullpen usage in the past and there is no reason to expect that they will do so with Chapman in the future.

As you no doubt remember, the Yankees had Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller for the first half of 2016. Such an imposing back end of a bullpen has rarely been seen in recent history. All of them, however, were used, more or less, as one-inning-a-piece guys and no real effort was ever made to break any bullpen usage paradigms or to shorten games the way many applauded Terry Francona for doing in the playoffs.

Miller pitched 44 games for the Yankees, totaling 45.1 innings. He pitched more than a single inning on only three occasions. Chapman pitched 31 games for the Yankees, amassing 31.1 innings. He was used for more than one inning only twice. Betances worked in 73 games, totaling 73 innings. On 11 occasions he pitched more than one inning.  It was unconventional for a team to have three relievers that good, but they were not, in any way, used unconventionally. Nor is there any reason to expect Chapman to be used unconventionally in 2017, especially given that Miller is not around and Chapman has shown no real ability to be stretched for multiple innings for a sustained period.

None of which is to say that having Chapman around is a bad thing or that he is any less of a closer than his reputation suggests. It’s merely to say that the Yankees paying Chapman unprecedented money for a closer should not be justified by the alleged new importance of relief pitchers or that changing role for them we heard so much about in the playoffs. Indeed, I suspect that that changing role applies only to pitcher use in the playoffs. And I do not suspect that this transaction alone pushes the Yankees into serious playoff contention, making that temporary unconventionality something of a moot point in New York for the foreseeable future.

It is almost certain that the Yankees are paying $86 million for the same one-inning closer Aroldis Chapman has been for his entire seven-year career. His contract may or may not prove to be a good one for New York based on how he performs, but don’t let anyone tell you now, in Decemeber 2016, that it’s better than you think because Chapman will somehow transform into a 1970s-style relief ace or something.

Report: Yankees sign Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million deal

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Update (12:02 AM EST): Rosenthal adds that Chapman’s contract includes an opt-out clause after three seasons, a full no-trade clause for the first three years of the contract, and a limited no-trade clause for the final two years.

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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees have signed closer Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million contract. Mark Melancon recently set the record for a contract earned by a reliever at $62 million over four years. Chapman blew that out of the water and many are surprised he didn’t fetch more.

Chapman, 28, began the 2016 season with the Yankees but he was traded to the Cubs near the end of July in exchange for four prospects. The Cubs, of course, would go on to win the World Series in large part due to Chapman. The lefty finished the regular season with a 1.55 ERA, 36 saves, and a 90/18 K/BB ratio in 58 innings between the two teams.

Chapman was the best reliever on the free agent market and, because he was traded midseason, he didn’t have draft pick compensation attached to him.

The Yankees don’t seem to be deterred by Chapman’s domestic violence issue from last offseason, resulting in a 30-game suspension to begin the 2016 regular season.