Cliff Lee loses to Twins, falls to 2-5 with 4.50 ERA for Rangers

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Francisco Liriano held up his end of the bargain in last night’s marquee pitching matchup, taking a shutout into the seventh inning in Texas, but Cliff Lee turned in his third straight ugly start and dropped to 2-5 with a 4.50 ERA in 10 total outings since being traded to the Rangers.
Lee continues to post a ridiculously good strikeout-to-walk ratio, racking up 67 strikeouts compared to just six walks in 76 post-trade innings, but he’s served up nine homers after allowing just five in 104 innings before the move and has been knocked around for 23 runs in his last 24.2 innings.
There’s some bad luck at play here, because someone with a 67/6 K/BB ratio in 76 innings simply shouldn’t have a 4.50 ERA unless they’re giving up tons and tons of long balls, but that doesn’t change how disappointing Lee has been for the Rangers so far. Last night’s struggles were particularly interesting, because the Twins were among the teams in the mix for Lee and now probably feel pretty good about not emptying the farm system for him.
Texas is 3-7 in games started by Lee, although it looks like they’ll still cruise into the playoffs and the success of the trade will ultimately hinge on what happens in October. If he leads them deep into the postseason few people will remember that Lee had a losing record down the stretch. Lee went 2-4 with a 6.13 ERA in his final seven starts for the Phillies last season before going 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA in the playoffs.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.