Endy Chavez missed all of last season following knee surgery and began this year at Triple-A, but the 33-year-old outfielder has hit .326 in 43 games since joining the Rangers in mid-May and manager Ron Washington is ready to give him an expanded role.
Chavez is a left-handed hitter and has faced almost exclusively right-handed pitchers, but with platoon partner Craig Gentry injured Washington sees no problem letting Chavez face lefties too, telling Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas:
Endy don’t care. When I got two guys that I feel is quality like Endy and Gentry, one against a lefty and one against a righty, it gives me a chance to get both of them out there. But Endy don’t care.
And you know what? He’s right. Almost all left-handed hitters are less productive against left-handed pitchers and that might be true of Chavez if given a long enough sample of playing time. However, he’s hitting .500 off lefties in limited action this year and is a career .291 hitter with a .703 OPS versus lefties compared to .269 with a .686 OPS versus righties. Of course, his career totals versus lefties consists of just 521 plate appearances, so it’s hardly definitive proof that Chavez handles them better than righties.
And while the handedness of the pitchers he’s allowed to face matters, the bigger question for the Rangers is whether Chavez will turn back into the same guy who hit just .274 with a .664 OPS in the three seasons preceding his knee injury. Washington is riding the hot hand right now, but if Chavez reverts back to his career norms the Rangers might not be so keen about playing him against lefties or righties.
The Nationals lost a heartbreaker on Tuesday night, as the Indians overcame a two-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Nationals 7-6. Closer Jonathan Papelbon faced five batters but was unable to record an out, yielding a leadoff walk, a double, a bunt that ended up very successful due to a Ryan Zimmerman throwing error, an intentional walk, and a single. Oliver Perez came in and eventually allowed one of his inherited runners to score, saddling Papelbon with the loss.
Papelbon also served up four runs in the outing before Tuesday’s, on Saturday against the Padres. The two clubs entered the top of the ninth tied 6-6, but a walk followed by three two-out singles and a bases-clearing double off of Papelbon allowed the Padres to take a 10-6 lead.
On the season, Papelbon is 19-for-22 in save chances with a 4.18 ERA and a 30/12 K/BB ratio in 32 1/3 innings. If the season were to end today, the right-hander’s 21.4 percent strikeout rate would be the lowest mark of his career and his 8.6 percent walk rate would be his highest mark since 2010.
Manager Dusty Baker didn’t indicate that he’s going to make a change at closer, but he sounded dissatisfied with Papelbon’s performance thus far. Via Mark Zuckerberg of MASN, Baker said, “He doesn’t have his command, which is evident when you walk the leadoff hitter. But it’s like, what do you say? How does he look? Right now he doesn’t look like Pap. He doesn’t look very good. Usually he doesn’t walk people like that.”
The non-waiver trade deadline is on Monday, August 1. The Nationals, at 58-42, still have a four-game lead over the Marlins and a 4.5-game lead over the Mets. Tuesday’s loss has motivated the club to attempt to upgrade the bullpen, Jon Morosi reports. The Nationals were in the mix for Aroldis Chapman before the Yankees sent him to the Cubs. Perhaps Andrew Miller could be next on the Nats’ wish list.
The Blue Jays announced on Tuesday night that the club traded reliever Drew Storen and some cash to the Mariners in exchange for reliever Joaquin Benoit.
Storen, 28, was designated for assignment by the Jays on Sunday after posting a 6.21 ERA with a 32/10 K/BB ratio in 33 1/3 innings. The Jays acquired him during the offseason from the Nationals in exchange for Ben Revere and a player to be named later.
Benoit, 38, struggled as well, putting up a 5.18 ERA with a 28/15 K/BB ratio in 24 1/3 innings with the Mariners.