UPDATE: Mets agree to contract with reliever Jon Rauch

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UPDATE III: The Mets might not be done addressing their bullpen. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the they are working on a 2-for-1 deal that is described as a “change of scenery” for all parties. Stay tuned.

UPDATE II: Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM reports that the deal is done, pending a physical. It’s reportedly worth $3.5 million and includes some performance-based incentives.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post confirms the report while adding that the Mets still hope to add another late-inning option to compete with Rauch for the closer role during spring training.

Rauch, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA and 36/14 K/BB ratio over 52 innings with the Blue Jays this season. The 6-foot-11 right-hander was 11-for-16 in save opportunities.

UPDATE: Adam Rubin of ESPN.com reports that the Mets are making progress in talks with free agent reliever Jon Rauch.

Andy Martino of the New York Daily News asked a source whether the two sides were closing in on a deal and was told, “You’re on the right track.”

5:50 PM: Joel Sherman of the New York Post and Andy Martino of the New York Daily News are both reporting that the Mets are picking up their search for relief help. In fact, Martino hears that they could make a deal as soon as tonight.

The Mets have been connected in talks for free agents like Francisco Rodriguez, Brad Lidge, Jon Rauch, Frank Francisco, Francisco Cordero, Octavio Dotel, Chad Qualls and Todd Coffey, but general manager Sandy Alderson told Adam Rubin of ESPN New York this afternoon that he is more inclined to sign two second-tier relievers as opposed to spending significant money on a high-profile name.

“I’d be surprised if we throw all of our money at one guy,” Alderson said. “Our bullpen is such that we definitely need somebody at the end. We can use more depth in our pen also. I think if we can do it, it probably would be better to be a little bit conservative with our top-end guy and still have some money to provide depth.

New York’s bullpen was 28th in the majors last season with a 4.33 ERA. While Bobby Parnell was given a chance to audition for the closer role following the trade of K-Rod, his six blown saves in 12 chances during the second half of the season has caused the Mets to look outside the organization for an alternative.

Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.

While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.

 

When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.

Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.

Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)

It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.