It’s about a month and a half too late, but the Cubs added some additional pitching depth on Thursday, picking up Rodrigo Lopez from the Braves for Ryan Buchter.
After failing to make the Braves out of spring training, Lopez, 35, was 6-1 with a 2.59 ERA in nine starts for Triple-A Gwinnett. Pitching for a Diamondbacks team that needed someone to soak up innings, he went 7-16 with a 5.00 ERA last year. He led the NL in losses and in homers allowed with 37, but he did exactly what Arizona needed him to.
The Cubs certainly could have used some of his six-inning and three- or four-run starts with Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner on the shelf the last two months. Their replacement have been terrible: Casey Coleman is 2-4 with a 7.32 ERA in eight starts, and James Russell came out of the pen to go 0-5 with a 9.33 ERA in his five starts. He’s since been replaced by veteran Doug Davis.
Wells is finally back for the Cubs this week, but with Matt Garza down, Lopez figures to go right into the rotation. He’ll battle Davis for the right to stay there after Garza returns.
Buchter, a 24-year-old lefty, had pitched 10 1/3 scoreless innings for Single-A Daytona this season, striking out 17 and walking three. The caveat is that those numbers came after he was demoted from Double-A Tennessee, where had a 6.55 ERA and a 13/11 K/BB ratio in 11 innings. He’s a long shot to have a career as a reliever.
Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.
The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.
For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.
Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.
The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.
Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.
It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.