As further proof of what a buyer’s market this offseason is for relief pitching, the Indians have signed Dan Wheeler to a minor-league contract.
Wheeler is certainly far from a great reliever, but he’s been a solid, dependable setup man for the better part of a decade and yet couldn’t even secure a big-league contract coming off a season in which he threw 49 innings with a 4.38 ERA and 39/8 K/BB ratio for the Red Sox.
Wheeler fares poorly against left-handed power hitters, but he throws strikes, misses plenty of bats, and has been very effective versus righties while posting a 3.88 ERA in 628 career innings. He’ll have to fight for a middle relief gig during spring training after making $3 million in 2011.
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge found himself front-and-center in a weird play in the bottom of the fourth inning during Game 4 of the ALCS on Tuesday evening. Judge drew a walk to lead off the frame. After Didi Gregorius lined out, Gary Sanchez flied out to shallow right-center.
Judge must have thought the ball had a high probability of falling in for a hit, so he was past the second base bag around the time he realized his mistake. He retraced his steps, running back to first base. Reddick’s throw hopped a couple of times but first base umpire Jerry Meals called Judge out on the tag-up play.
Manager Joe Girardi requested a review and the call was overturned: Judge was safe. However, Astros manager A.J. Hinch wanted to challenge that Judge did not re-touch second base on his way back. Rather than issuing a formal challenge, the Astros had to appeal the play by having starter Lance McCullers throw to second base, at which point second base umpire Jim Reynolds would issue a ruling. McCullers was a bit hasty, though, and made his appeal throw before Greg Bird stepped into the batter’s box. Reynolds told McCullers that he had to wait. So, McCullers again made his appeal throw.
This time, Judge was running and he was simply tagged out at second base for the final out of the inning. No need for a review.
As Ken Rosenthal explained on the FS1 broadcast, the Yankees were trying to “beat the police.” They knew Judge would have been ruled out — replays clearly showed he never re-touched the base — so they had nothing to lose by sending Judge. If he was safe, the Astros would no longer be able to appeal the play. If he’s out, then it’s the same outcome they would have had anyway.