Darren Oliver tossed a scoreless inning last night in his 59th appearance of the season, which is the number needed for the Rangers’ 2011 team option on the 39-year-old reliever to vest at $3.25 million.
Texas will be glad to have Oliver back at that price, as he’s quietly gone from being a mediocre and then seemingly washed-up starter to one of the better left-handed relievers in baseball for the past five seasons. Oliver has a 2.50 ERA and 63/14 K/BB ratio in 57.2 innings this season, producing the second-highest strikeout rate ever for a 39-year-old with at least 50 innings:
Randy Johnson 2003 9.87
Darren Oliver 2010 9.83
Nolan Ryan 1986 9.81
Mariano Rivera 2009 9.77
Roger Clemens 2002 9.60
That’s quite a list. Four of the greatest pitchers of all time and Darren Oliver, who in his five seasons prior to moving to the bullpen full time in 2006 went 33-39 with a 5.83 ERA in 573 innings spent primarily as a starter. Since becoming a full-time reliever he’s thrown 348 innings with a 3.08 ERA and is doing the best work of his career in his 17th season.
The Yankees probably have the best minor league system in baseball right now and the best player in that system is, without question, shortstop Gleyber Torres. Now that top prospect is a step closet to the Bronx: he has been promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The Yankees don’t rush their prospects anywhere nearly as fast as a lot of teams do, but Torres, who is only 20, proved himself to be ready for the promotion. In 32 games at Double-A Trenton this year he hit .273/.367/.496 in 139 plate appearances. That OPS is almost 100 points higher than that which he posted in high A-ball in 2016.
Torres came over to the Yankees from the Cubs organization in the Aroldis Chapman trade last summer. At this rate he’ll be playing shortstop behind Chapman in New York before too long.
Dodgers outfielder Brett Eibner came into yesterday’s game against the Marlins as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning. He hit a single scoring Joc Pederson and Kiké Hernandez and then advanced to second on the throw home. Overall on the year he’s 5-for-16 with a walk, two homers and six driven in eight games. Admirable work for a guy whose job is to be a bench bat and outfield depth.
As Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports, however, he could possible provide some bullpen depth too:
Eibner has thrown several bullpen sessions at Dodger Stadium and at Oklahoma City, working on building arm strength and developing secondary pitches to accompany a fastball he said hit 95 mph in college.
The idea, still in its theoretical stages, would be for Eibner to remain, primarily, a backup outfielder, but to possibly serve as an extra arm during periods when the Dodgers pen gets worked hard. Something less than an everyday reliever but something more than the gimmick of using a position player to save the real pitchers in a blowout.
In an age when teams have cut their position player depth down to the bone in the service of adding more relief pitchers, finding a guy who can do both could provide a nice little boost, no?