UPDATE: Party’s over, folks. With one out in the ninth, Joe Mauer broke up the no-hit bid with a hard hit single up the middle, just beyond the outstretched glove of Elvis Andrus. It was the only hit the Rangers would allow in a 4-0 win over the Twins.
It spoiled what would have been the first combined no-no since six Astros no-hit the Yankees on June 11, 2003. It’s a bummer, but Rangers fans have to be highly encouraged by what they saw from Harden tonight.
10:26 PM: Darren O’Day just sat down the Twins 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth, including back-to-back strikeouts of Danny Valencia and J.J. Hardy. O’Day, Matt Harrison and Rich Harden have combined for eight no-hit innings against the Twins. Neftali Feliz will come on in the ninth for a chance at history.
10:06 PM: Rich Harden left tonight’s start against the Twins after tossing 6 2/3 hitless innings. The Rangers played it safe and we ended up seeing a situation very similar to Kevin Slowey being pulled after seven hitless innings earlier this month.
Harden, who was just activated from the disabled list after a recent bout with shoulder tendinitis, was at 111 pitches at the time. Never the most efficient of pitchers, Harden struck out six and walked five before exiting the ballgame.
Harden threw 101 pitches in a rehab start with Triple-A Oklahoma City last Wednesday, so he was certainly stretched out, but remember that the Rangers have designs on the postseason. Harden has been a major bust this season, but it’s hard to question his upside when healthy. It’s for the greater good.
On the bright side for Rangers fans, Matt Harrison got Jim Thome to line out to center field to end the inning, so they still have the no-hitter going. Stay tuned for more.
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.