Justin Verlander shut down the Twins last night, holding Minnesota to one run in eight innings while improving to 13-5 with a 2.24 ERA.
He also threw 126 pitches, which would be a noteworthy workload for just about anyone but Verlander, as he’s thrown at least 125 pitches five times this season and has yet to throw fewer than 100 pitches in a start this season.
In fact, as Brandon Warne of Fan Graphs points out Verlander has now thrown at least 100 pitches in 40 consecutive starts dating back to the middle of last season.
Pitch count data is only available going back a couple decades, but Verlander’s streak of 40 straight 100-pitch outings is the most of any pitcher during that time. Via the always amazing Baseball-Reference.com Play Index here’s the leaderboard for consecutive 100-pitch starts since 1988:
JUSTIN VERLANDER 2010-2011 40
Randy Johnson 1998-1999 38
Randy Johnson 1992-1993 37
Felix Hernandez 2009-2010 32
Randy Johnson 1999-2000 30
Carlos Zambrano 2005-2006 30
At the risk of taking attention away from Verlander’s remarkable feat: Randy Johnson was ridiculous.
Last time Verlander failed to throw at least 100 pitches was June 22 of last season, when the Mets chased him from the game after two innings. And before that he’d gone 12 straight starts with 100-plus pitches, so Verlander has now thrown at least 100 pitches in 52 of his last 53 outings, during which time he’s 31-14 with a 2.73 ERA and 372 strikeouts in 379 innings.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.