Aaron Harang led the National League in strikeouts way back in 2006 as a member of the Reds, but we certainly don’t think of him a strikeout-type anymore. Some blame Dusty Baker for killing his arm, but the 33-year-old right-hander has averaged just 6.6 K/9 over the past two seasons. Still, he came very close to becoming an unlikely part of history tonight.
After giving up a leadoff single to Cameron Maybin in the top of the first inning, Harang struck out the next nine batters he faced. To put into perspective how odd this is, Harang had gone 44 straight starts without striking out nine in a game. The veteran right-hander began the top of the fourth inning with a chance to tie Tom Seaver’s major league record (April 22, 1970) with 10 consecutive strikeouts, but Will Venable took him deep to break up the streak and end the shutout. So much for that.
While Harang’s unlikely run at MLB history fell short, he did top the franchise record for consecutive strikeouts, which was set when Johnny Podres struck out eight straight against the Phillies on July 2, 1962. Breaking Johnny Podres’ record against the Padres? Now that’s weird.
UPDATE: Harang tied his career-high with 13 strikeouts before exiting after 6 1/3 innings, having allowed four runs on four hits and two walks. The Dodgers won 9-8 on a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth inning.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.