In his first start after signing a five-year contract, Jon Niese took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Braves.
Niese lost the no-hitter on a Freddie Freeman single after Dan Uggla walked to start the seventh. Matt Diaz followed with a fly to right that Lucas Duda lost in the sun for an error. Jason Heyward then rocketed a two-run double to right-center to knock Niese from the game
The Mets were up 7-0 at the beginning of the seventh, so they couldn’t have been too disappointed by the series of events. Niese gave up his first hit on his 98th pitch, and the Mets weren’t going to want him throwing 120-130 pitches in going for a no-no in his first start of the year.
Niese’s big outing today followed a spring in which he amassed a 5.73 ERA and allowed 28 hits in 22 innings. The league hit .284 against him last year (compared to .251 for MLB as a whole), giving him a mediocre 4.40 ERA despite rather strong peripherals.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.