Kevin Gregg’s latest ugly outing, in which he allowed three runs while recording one out, inflated his ERA to 12.27 and caused our own Matthew Pouliot to wonder how much longer the Orioles can possibly stick with the veteran right-hander.
Buck Showalter was asked exactly that by Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com and the manager replied:
I can’t sit here and say nonchalantly that there’s not something to it. But Kevin’s pitched in different roles in his career, I know Kevin and he just wants to contribute and do whatever, we’ve talked about this and I think you will see him get better as we go on.
Showalter is seemingly saying that because Gregg has been used as a closer in the past that’s causing him to struggle in a non-closer role, which is especially silly considering Gregg has always been mediocre regardless of his role and was never well suited for the closer job in the first place.
Gregg saved 20-plus games in five straight seasons prior to this year and in those five seasons he posted a 3.89 ERA with 4.7 walks per nine innings and a homer every 10 frames. That includes a 4.37 ERA and nearly as many walks (40) as strikeouts (53) in 60 innings last season, which along with the fact that Gregg is 34 years old provides a pretty simple explanation for his struggles.
Gregg was stripped of closing duties because he pitched poorly and now he’s pitching very poorly in a non-closer role. If not for his still being owed $6 million as part of a misguided two-year, $12 million deal the Orioles probably would have gotten rid of Gregg already.
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.
Twins’ right-hander Nick Burdi is set to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, the team announced on Friday. Burdi made 14 appearances for Double-A Chattanooga before succumbing to a torn ulnar collateral ligament and is not expected to make his major league debut until mid-2018 at the earliest. A UCL tear doesn’t always require Tommy John surgery — less severe cases can be treated with platelet-rich plasma injections, for example — but Twins’ chief baseball officer Derek Falvey told the press that surgery was unavoidable as Burdi had sustained a “full thickness tear” in his elbow.
Entering the 2016 season, Burdi was widely considered a top ten prospect in the Twins’ system. His exceptional velocity and potent fastball-slider combo made him a fearsome relief option as he came off of his first season in Double-A Chattanooga in 2015. During the 2016 season, however, the 24-year-old experienced a significant setback after a bone bruise cut his season short in late July. Prior to Friday’s diagnosis, he appeared to be staging an impressive comeback with the Chattanooga Lookouts this spring, decorating his efforts with a sparkling 0.53 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.6 SO/9 over 17 innings.
It’s a tough break for the Twins, whose farm system was ranked 21st in the league by Baseball America. “Obviously he’s proven when he’s healthy he’s an absolute premium prospect, and the Twins are treating him that way,” Burdi’s agent, Matt Sosnick, told Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. “We just want to make sure everything we do ultimately leads to the goal of getting him back on the field as quickly as he can.”