Jason Isringhausen saved the Mets victory over the Padres last night. It was save number 300 for his career. No, it’s not quite as impressive as Jim Thome hitting his 600th homer, but a round number is a round number, right?
Like so many top closers, Isringhausen began his major league life as a starter. That didn’t work out for him, of course, and he was converted into a full time closer just as the Mets gave up on him and shipped him to Oakland in the middle of the 1999 season. From there he had a nice nine-season run, closing games for the A’s and, most significantly, the Cardinals. At times he was dominant, but only at times. He racked up a lot of saves with some good Cardinals teams.
The past few years have been rough for Isringhausen. Arm troubles, including his third Tommy John surgery looked to have ended his career. He missed most of 2009 and never made the majors in 2010 as he tried to come back. This season he has been a shadow of his former self for the Mets, though a friendly and welcome shadow, closing out his career where it began and, apparently anyway, hanging around to see the save odometer flip to 300.
And I have no problem with that. The Mets aren’t contending and he’s not crowding out any young stud. If the Mets are simply giving him a chance to hit a milestone, well, in this case good for the Mets. It’s important to Isringhausen and there is enough good will out there for him that it’s important to a non-trivial number of fans. Good for him. And for them.
The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.
Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).
A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.
The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.