After 13 seasons and 10 teams, left-hander Bruce Chen has himself a multiyear contract. The Royals re-signed him to a two-year, $9 million deal on Wednesday, SI.com’s Jon Heyman reports.
There’s never been a journeyman quite like Chen. 34 others have also played for 10 different franchises, but Chen pulled it off in just 11 seasons before finding a home in Kansas City. This next year will be his fourth with the Royals, and after a rocky start with the team in 2009, he’s gone 24-15 with a 3.96 ERA the last two years.
Chen broke in with the Braves very young, so he’s still just 34 now. Doomed by a proclivity for giving him homers in his early years, he’s benefited tremendously from the game’s falling power numbers. It also helps that he’s gotten to play in an underrated pitcher’s park in Kansas City recently.
There is a big cause for concern here, though. Chen fanned just 5.6 batters per nine innings last season, down from 6.3 in 2010. His career rate is 6.8. Chen’s a different pitcher now than he used to be, one who doesn’t need to get so many outs via the K. Still, it’s hardly a good sign that he took such a big dip. His walk rate is falling as well, which is a big reason the loss of strikeouts didn’t hurt him last season. It’s just that a tumbling strikeout rate is one of the worst indicators when it comes to predicting future success.
The Royals are simply hoping for more of the same from Chen. It’s doubtful that he’ll ever start a postseason game for the team, but they’re banking on him serving as a solid middle-of-the-r0tation guy for a while longer.
And chalk one up for perseverence here. It’s a wonder than Chen never gave up while bouncing from team-to-team. From 2000-03, he played for multiple clubs each season. In 2006, he went 0-7 with a 6.93 ERA. In 2007, the Rangers sent him down after just five appearances and never brought him back. It was two years before he’d again see the majors. But now he’ll make nearly as much these next two seasons as he has the rest of his career combined.
Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.
Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.
Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.
Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.
It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.
While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.
The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”