Jerry Sands got off to a rough start after the Dodgers called him up from Triple-A in mid-April, going 8-for-47 (.190) with 13 strikeouts through 11 games.
They stuck with the 23-year-old top prospect, trusting that he’d eventually get on track and live up to the promise he showed while destroying minor-league pitching, and Sands has responded by going 14-for-50 (.280) with seven extra-base hits and more walks (11) than strikeouts (9) in 19 games so far this month.
That includes his first career grand slam last night, which came just a couple days after his first career homer Sunday, and suddenly his .756 OPS ranks fourth on the team behind Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Casey Blake. James Loney, who Sands figures to eventually replace at first base, has a measly .579 OPS after posting a .723 mark last season.
The Mets signed left-hander Matt Purke to a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Purke will also receive an invitation to spring training, where he could presumably beef up the club’s left-handed relief options alongside Jerry Blevins and Josh Smoker.
Purke has not appeared in the majors since 2016, when he was used in a dozen relief appearances by the White Sox. The 27-year-old racked up a 5.50 ERA, 6.0 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 in his first 18 innings with the team, and was demoted to Triple-A Charlotte in June to finish out the season. He spent the entire 2017 season in Triple-A as well, showing more promise with a 3.84 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 11.0 SO/9 in 48 appearances.
While Purke may not amount to much more than a depth piece in New York’s ‘pen, the veteran lefty figures to be part of the Mets’ new bullpen-first strategy next year. Reports from MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo indicate that the club will be focusing on improving their relief options in order to ease the workload of their starting pitchers, and will likely add a few more arms before the offseason comes to a close.