Despite giving up a pair of two-run homers to Shelley Duncan in his six innings of work, Justin Verlander improved to 22-5 by beating the Indians in Detroit’s 8-6 victory on Wednesday.
The win was Verlander’s 10th in 10 starts. It’s the longest such streak with no losses or no decisions since Arizona’s Brandon Webb won 11 in a row from Sept. 22, 2007-May 15, 2008.
The longest streak since 2000 belongs to Johan Santana, who ran off 12 straight victories for the Twins from July 27-Sept. 24, 2004.
Verlander’s streak doesn’t quite measure up to Santana’s. Today’s was the third outing in the stretch in which he gave up four runs. He has a 2.75 ERA in his 10 wins (his ERA was actually lower back when he was 12-5). Santana had a 1.28 ERA during his streak, and Webb was at 2.58 during his.
Of course, Santana was just flat-out awesome the second half of 2004. Including his two starts against the Yankees in the postseason, he went 15-0 in a span of 18 starts and allowed just one run in each of the three no-decisions.
It’s clear now that Verlander is going to cruise to his first Cy Young Award, and he pretty obviously deserves it. He’s overtaken Jered Weaver for the AL lead in ERA at 2.44, leaving him slightly ahead of Weaver and Josh Beckett at 2.49. He already has the other two portions of the pitching triple crown pretty much locked up. He has three more wins than CC Sabathia in second place, and with eight strikeouts today, he’s 21 ahead of Sabathia and Felix Hernandez (232-211).
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.