Evan Meek not close to beginning a throwing program

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Pirates setup man Evan Meek posted a 2.14 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 80 innings last season, vaulting himself into the rung of baseball’s elite relievers.

This year, he’s fallen back to earth in a big way.

Meek has made only 17 relief appearances and is on the 15-day disabled list currently for the second time this season due to shoulder inflammation.

Some might say the Bucs overused him in 2010 and that his throwing shoulder is fatigued from the career-high innings total. Whatever the case, he’s not close to getting back to 100 percent.

According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Meek is still in the “strengthening phase” of his recovery and is not close to gaining clearance to begin a throwing program. He will continue working out at the Pirates’ spring training complex until team trainers feel his shoulder is ready. That may take until August.

Astros name Justin Verlander ALCS MVP

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Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, the team crowned ace Justin Verlander the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.

“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”

Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.

The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.