Orioles relief pitcher Michael Gonzalez falls off the mound after delivering a pitch against the Red Sox in Baltimore

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Red Sox 15, Orioles 10: Of course. The night after Boston took 16 innings to score one run, they unload for 15 against the O’s. That after getting almost no sleep due to the late night. I said yesterday that the Orioles had their worst series of the season against Boston before the All-Star break, but this one could end up being uglier.

Cubs 6, Phillies 1The heat got to Halladay. I can only assume that at certain temperatures and humidity levels his hydraulic limbs and positronic net start to experience some sort of interface malfunction with the organic components, resulting in cyborg failure.  I’m sure that after a level 2 diagnostic and a purge of his short term memory he’ll be back to work, doing the jobs that we can’t depend on Man to do as reliably, all the while biding his time until he leads the other machines — who have since become self-aware — in a bloody revolt against their creators.

Pirates 2, Reds 0: Charlie Morton didn’t pitch the most efficient game in baseball history — he threw 87 pitches in five innings — but the Reds did nothing against him during that time. Didn’t help that there was an hour and a half delay during the first inning. The Reds did nothing against the rest of the Pirates staff either. Pittsburgh is in first place.

Indians 5, Twins 2, Indians 6, Twins 3:  David Huff throws seven scoreless innings in the first one. The thinking was that he was only making the spot start for the doubleheader and would only be up with the big club for a minute and a Huff, but he may have won himself a job with that outing. You know, he hasn’t stopped talking since I came here? He must have been vaccinated with a phonograph needle.

White Sox 5, Royals 2: Mark Buehrle keeps rolling, pitching better than his record suggests. It was 95 degrees at game time with a heat index of 105.  I have a theory that the idea of the heat index is bunk and that it was made up by a TV meteorologist looking to sexy-up the weather segment of the evening news, but I can’t prove it.  I suppose I could ask my dad, who retired from the National Weather Service.  But how do I know they haven’t gotten to him too?

Yankees 5, Rays 4: Joe Maddon decided to bring in Kyle Farnsworth for the five-out save with a couple runners aboard in the eighth inning. Not something a lot of people would do.  That backfired, as both of the runners came around to score. Alex Torres came into a 4-4 tie in the ninth, loaded the bases and then walked Russell Martin with them loaded and took the loss. This is what people were expecting a lot of from the Rays’ pen before the season began.

Marlins 4, Mets 1: Clay Hensley gave up only one hit in five innings and the bullpen took it home from there. A two-run double for Mike Stanton. No stolen bases for him, though, so his manager is probably mad at him.

Nationals 5, Astros 2: A couple RBI for Ryan Zimmerman and eight innings of two-run ball for Jason Marquis. No one really sweats when playing Houston.

Braves 7, Rockies 4: Derek Lowe was cruising — even got a hit and scored a run — until he ran out of gas in the seventh. Braves held on, however, thanks to another nice game from the McCann-Freeman combination of which I am becoming a giantic fan.  Now if only Jason Heyward would come out of his coma to help them out.

Diamondbacks 3, Brewers 0: Rookie Josh Collmenter tomahawked the Brewers, shutting them down and shutting them out over eight. Really, he tomahawked ’em. Inevitable he goes to the Braves one day, I suppose.

Giants 5, Dodgers 0: Ryan Vogelsong had his way with the Dodgers as well. He now leads the NL in ERA, which is what we all expected before the season began, right?

 

The Marlins have made a “monster offer” for Kenley Jansen

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch against the Chicago Cubs in the eighth inning of game three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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OXON HILL, MD — The morning after Aroldis Chapman signed for a record $86 million, the Miami Marlins are reported to have made similarly lucrative offer to the other top free agent closer, Kenley Jansen.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo says that the Marlins have made “a monster offer” of five years and more than $80 million to Jansen. This despite the fact that the club is coming off of a 79-win season and, tragically, lost their top pitcher Jose Fernandez in a fatal boating accident, which will substantially harm their competitive prospects. While it seems like a stretch to say that the Yankees will compete for a playoff spot, thereby making such an historically large investment in a closer a bit suspect, the Marlins doing so is even more questionable.

Meanwhile, the Nationals are said to be interested in Jansen as well, though Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post says the Nats are “uncomfortable” with the financial commitment signing him would require.

Jansen most recently pitched for the Dodgers and there have been no reports that they’re totally out on him, but there has been nothing to suggest that they are pushing hard for him either.

Jansen, 29, finished this past season with 47 saves, a 1.83 ERA, and a 104/11 K/BB ratio in 68.2 innings. That’s not quite Aroldis Chapman good, but he seems poised to collect something close to Aroldis Chapman money.

The Yankees are paying $86 million for a one-inning reliever

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OXON HILL, MD — The Yankees signing of Aroldis Chapman late Wednesday night came as something of a surprise. And the money — $86 million — was something of a shock. Yes, we knew that Chapman was going to break the bank and likely set a record as the highest paid relief pitcher in history, but seeing it in black and white like that is still rather jarring.

In the coming days, many people who attempt to analyze and contextualize this signing will do so by pointing to the 2016 playoffs and the unconventional use of relievers by Terry Francona and the Indians and Joe Maddon of the Cubs. They’ll talk about how the paradigm of bullpen use has shifted and how relief pitchers have taken on a new importance in today’s game. Chapman’s astronomical salary, therefore, will be described as somehow more reasonable and somewhat less shocking than it first seems.

Don’t buy that jive for a second.

Yes, Andrew Miller and, to some extent, Chapman himself were used unconventionally in the 2016 playoffs, but not long into the 2017 season we will see that as an exception, not the rule. And not just because Chapman showed himself unable to hold up to that level of use in the playoffs. It will be the exception because the Yankees have shown no inclination whatsoever to deviate from traditional bullpen usage in the past and there is no reason to expect that they will do so with Chapman in the future.

As you no doubt remember, the Yankees had Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller for the first half of 2016. Such an imposing back end of a bullpen has rarely been seen in recent history. All of them, however, were used, more or less, as one-inning-a-piece guys and no real effort was ever made to break any bullpen usage paradigms or to shorten games the way many applauded Terry Francona for doing in the playoffs.

Miller pitched 44 games for the Yankees, totaling 45.1 innings. He pitched more than a single inning on only three occasions. Chapman pitched 31 games for the Yankees, amassing 31.1 innings. He was used for more than one inning only twice. Betances worked in 73 games, totaling 73 innings. On 11 occasions he pitched more than one inning.  It was unconventional for a team to have three relievers that good, but they were not, in any way, used unconventionally. Nor is there any reason to expect Chapman to be used unconventionally in 2017, especially given that Miller is not around and Chapman has shown no real ability to be stretched for multiple innings for a sustained period.

None of which is to say that having Chapman around is a bad thing or that he is any less of a closer than his reputation suggests. It’s merely to say that the Yankees paying Chapman unprecedented money for a closer should not be justified by the alleged new importance of relief pitchers or that changing role for them we heard so much about in the playoffs. Indeed, I suspect that that changing role applies only to pitcher use in the playoffs. And I do not suspect that this transaction alone pushes the Yankees into serious playoff contention, making that temporary unconventionality something of a moot point in New York for the foreseeable future.

It is almost certain that the Yankees are paying $86 million for the same one-inning closer Aroldis Chapman has been for his entire seven-year career. His contract may or may not prove to be a good one for New York based on how he performs, but don’t let anyone tell you now, in Decemeber 2016, that it’s better than you think because Chapman will somehow transform into a 1970s-style relief ace or something.