Having scored five runs while losing their last four games, the Royals opted for a lineup shakeup on Wednesday against the Rangers and right-hander Alexi Ogando:
1. Alex Gordon – LF
2. Melky Cabrera – CF
3. Eric Hosmer – 1B
4. Jeff Francoeur – RF
5. Billy Butler – DH
6. Wilson Betemit – 3B
7. Matt Treanor – C
8. Chris Getz – 2B
9. Alcides Escobar – SS
It seems worth a try, even though Gordon is slumping badly at the moment. Coincidence or not, he’s batting .191 in 68 at-bats since the Royals decided to shift him from left field to first base for a couple of games.
Primarily batting sixth, Hosmer is hitting .270/.349/.568 in 37 at-bats since his callup earlier this month. He did bat third once before when Gordon was getting a night off, and he homered in that one to help the Royals beat the Yankees.
The questionable choice is to bat Francoeur in the cleanup spot against a righty. He’s hitting .220 in his last 11 games and his OPS is 400 points higher against lefties this season. Butler is struggling as well, but he has a .386 OBP against righties this year, compared to Francoeur’s .323 mark. With only one major league hitter behind him, it’s hard to like his chances of scoring after a double or a walk.
According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, free agent reliever Joba Chamberlain has a deal with the Brewers. No confirmation or terms of the contract have been confirmed by the team yet.
Chamberlain, 31, had a promising resurgence in the Indians’ bullpen during 2016. He shaved his ERA down to a modest 2.25 mark over 20 innings with Cleveland, paired with an 8.1 SO/9 and less-than-stellar 5.0 BB/9 rate. Over a decade in the major leagues, the right-hander holds a career 3.81 ERA, 8.8 SO/9 and 3.7 BB/9 rate.
The veteran righty was released by the Indians in July after refusing re-assignment. He’s expected to compete for a major league role this spring.
After letting rumors of the deal percolate for the last week, the Athletics officially announced their two-year, $11 million contract with right-hander Santiago Casilla on Friday (and threw a little bit of shade at the Giants, too). As previously reported, the contract includes an extra $3 million in performance bonuses.
Casilla, 36, got his major league start with Oakland back in 2004, racking up a 5.11 ERA and four saves over six seasons in the A’s bullpen. After picking up a minor league deal with the Giants in 2010, the righty flitted in and out of the closing role with varying degrees of success. Notwithstanding a slight downturn in his production rate during the 2016 season, he earned 123 saves and a 2.42 ERA during the past seven years in San Francisco. Securing another closing role might be a little tougher across the Bay, however, with a bullpen that includes fellow closers Ryan Madson, Ryan Dull and Sean Doolittle.