Daniel Schlereth set to take on bigger role in Tigers’ bullpen

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Part of the reason why the Tigers are moving Phil Coke from the bullpen to the rotation following a fantastic year as a setup man in 2010 is that they feel confident about replacing him with rookie Daniel Schlereth, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com.

Schlereth is slated to take over for Coke as the Tigers’ primary left-handed setup man after the 2008 first-round pick tossed 19 innings with a 2.89 ERA and 19/10 K/BB ratio last season. He also had a 2.37 ERA and 60/34 K/BB ratio in 49 innings at Triple-A, and the 25-year-old southpaw has the potential to be more than simply a left-handed specialist if his control improves.

Here’s what general manager Dave Dombrowski had to say about his role in 2011 and beyond:

I think Daniel Schlereth can do that. We liked what we saw last year. Now, he can do more than that. He can get righties and lefties. He’s got a left-handed breaking ball and an above-average fastball. But he can get out anybody, really.

Schlereth, whose father Mark played in the NFL and is now a football analyst for ESPN, averaged 92 miles per hour with his fastball and also features a low-80s curveball. He’ll join Ryan Perry and free agent signing Joaquin Benoit in setting up closer Jose Valverde, with Joel Zumaya possibly joining the mix depending on his health.

Astros advance to the World Series with 4-0 finale against Yankees

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The Astros punched their ticket to the World Series on Saturday, shutting out the Yankees 4-0 to take their first Game 7 victory at home. Charlie Morton was nearly untouchable on the mound, holding the Yankees to two hits, a walk and five strikeouts en route to his first career postseason win.

Morton and Sabathia carried their duel through three solid innings. Morton struck out three batters and allowed just one baserunner. Sabathia worked in and out of jams in the second and third innings, supplying and stranding two runners in scoring position.

Evan Gattis was the first to strike. In the fourth inning, he punched a 2-2 slider from Sabathia into the left field wall, where it registered a projected 405 feet and broke a homer-less streak of 115 at-bats by designated hitters in the 2017 postseason. The home run signaled the beginning of the end for the Yankees’ starter. He induced a groundout from Marwin Gonzalez, then walked Brian McCann on six pitches and allowed Josh Reddick his first base hit of the playoffs. That was enough for Joe Girardi, who pulled Sabathia for righty Tommy Kahnle and an inning-ending double play to close out the fourth.

Even with Sabathia gone, there was still some hope that the middle of the order could bail the Yankees out. Greg Bird led off the fifth with a first pitch double and Aaron Hicks took a four-pitch walk. A wild pitch from Morton allowed Bird to reach third base, but Alex Bregman and Brian McCann weren’t about to let the Yankees spoil their starter’s shutout. Todd Frazier bounced a ball toward third base, where Bregman grabbed and fired it to home plate, catching Bird just as McCann put his glove down.

The bottom of the inning wasn’t any easier for Sabathia’s successors. Jose Altuve went oppo-taco on a 1-1 changeup from Kahnle, postmarking it 364 feet into the right field stands. Kahnle labored through the next four at-bats, handing out a pair of singles to Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel before sending Gattis down swinging. The next at-bat was even more troublesome. McCann roped a two-out, two-RBI double to the warning track in right field, clearing the bases and boosting the Astros’ to a cushy 4-0 lead.

The excitement fizzled a little over the next few innings. Brett Gardner muscled a leadoff single off of Lance McCullers, but was later caught at second on a force play to end the sixth. McCullers didn’t let go of the ball again. He was lights-out through the end of the game, scattering a walk and six strikeouts over four innings and clinching the pennant with a 1-2-3 performance in the ninth.

Whatever confidence the Astros had coming off of their three-game sweep in the Division Series was tested and tested again in their pennant run. They battled through three tough losses in Games 3 through 5, staved off elimination with a gem from Justin Verlander in Game 6, and finally emerged victorious tonight. Three days from now, when they enter Dodger Stadium for Game 1 of the World Series, they’ll have the chance to do it all again.