Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters were rode hard and put away wet last year. So this year, they’re taking it a bit easier heading into spring training. From the AJC:
It’s easy to suggest their first-half workload is what caused Kimbrel and Venters to struggle down the stretch, when they appeared to be operating on fumes some nights … But it’s also clear that Venters and Kimbrel are learning something about pace and preparation. They realize there is a purpose to spring training, and that is solely to prepare for the season … This year Venters and Kimbrel won’t enter spring training in midseason form, by design. Both spent the offseason doing more strength and conditioning, and less throwing.
That should help. As should Fredi Gonzalez taking it a bit easier on them. One thing not mentioned in the article but which also needs to happen: the Braves have to freakin’ hit a little bit so they’re not constantly finding themselves in tie and one-run games like they did so often last season.
If Kimbrel and Venters are fresh all year, it means that the Braves will be in good shape. If run ragged again, forget it.
Mets manager Terry Collins says that he has scratched Noah Syndergaard, who was supposed to start this afternoon’s game against the Braves. In his place will go Matt Harvey.
Syndergaard, Collins says, has “tired arm.” But also says he has some discomfort in his right biceps. He will have an MRI, but Syndergaard says it’s not serious and that he could pitch as soon as Sunday. Collins says this is an abundance-of-caution type thing, saying “we can’t take a chance on this guy.” Which is true.
The Mets ace is 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 26 innings. He has walked no one this year. Not a soul.
James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.
And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:
“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”
“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.
“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.