Rangers’ bullpen suddenly looking fatigued, punchless

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The Rangers’ talented bullpen corps helped guide the team to convincing series wins in the ALDS against the Rays and the ALCS versus Detroit, but it’s now showing serious signs of fatigue three games into this 2011 Fall Classic. And it might only get worse.

Alexi Ogando, who yielded just four hits and one earned run over 10 1/3 innings in the first two rounds, has already surrendered four hits and five runs to the Cardinals in the World Series. Mike Gonzalez was pounded on Saturday. As was Scott Feldman. As was Darren Oliver. But it’s about more than results.

It’s also about usage.

The Texas bullpen threw a total of 117 pitches in Game 3’s 16-7 defeat. Game 4 starter Derek Holland made it through just 7 1/3 total frames in his two ALCS starts. Unless Holland dazzles unexpectedly, the Rangers’ relievers will again play a major role. And it’s safe to wonder whether they’re suited to meet the task.

The Cardinals carry a 2-1 series lead into Game 4 on Sunday night. Starting for them will be righty Edwin Jackson, who has also struggled to make it to the later innings. Might we see another softball-esque score?

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

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Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.

Luis Valbuena to miss four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring

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Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.

Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.

Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.