After three straight solid starts in a row, Trevor Cahill was just torched for a career-high 10 runs in two-plus innings by the Yankees on Friday night. He gave up five runs in a second inning that only ended because Derek Jeter was thrown out at third after tagging up on a sac fly and then five more without getting an out in the third.
Cahill opened the season 6-0 with a 1.72 ERA. He outpitched his peripherals as part of a surprising 18-win season in 2010, but this time around, his strikeout rate was well up and he surrendered just three homers in his first eight starts. His K/BB ratio stood at 45/16 in 52 1/3 innings.
Things have gone very wrong since. In his last 14 starts, he has a 56/42 K/BB ratio and he’s allowed 10 homers in 83 2/3 innings.
Velocity is one problem. He averaged 90.4 mph with his fastball last year, and he was right around there at the beginning of this season. However, he’s averaged closer to 86-89 mph lately and he’s down to 89.1 mph for the season, according to Fangraphs.com data.
Also a concern is the regression of his curveball. Based on a couple of early-season viewings, I thought it was turning into the strikeout pitch he needed and I got quite a bit more bullish on his future as a result. Unfortunately, he’s no longer throwing it for strikes or getting swings and misses with it.
It’s possible Cahill is hurting and just hasn’t told anyone about it. The erosion of both his command and velocity suggests it. But hopefully that’s not the case. As stated above, Cahill had turned in three straight quality starts coming into this one. Still, he’s an A’s pitcher and it’s never a good idea to give one of them the benefit of the doubt.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.