Justin Verlander had to settle for a one-hitter in Detroit’s 6-0 win over the Pirates on Friday, but that hardly takes away from his incredible run.
– The 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner is now 5-1 with a 2.17 ERA and a major league-best 0.80 WHIP this season. He also took over the league lead in strikeouts by upping his total to 68 tonight.
– He struck out 12 batters for the sixth time in his career. Half of those starts have come in the last calendar year.
– It was Verlander’s 51st consecutive start of at least six innings, the longest such streak since 2000. Mark Buehrle had a streak of 49 six-inning starts in 2004-05.
Josh Harrison was the only Pirate to have decent at-bats against Verlander tonight, so it was fitting that he broke up the no-hitter with one out in the ninth with a line drive single off a 1-2 curveball. In all, Harrison hit three of the four balls that the Pirates got out of the infield in the game.
Of course, Pittsburgh is far from an offensive juggernaut — the Pirates rank last in the majors in runs scored and it’s not even close — but Verlander probably would have shut down any lineup tonight. With two already down, one gets the impression that it’s only a matter of time before he becomes the sixth pitcher in major league history with three no-hitters under his belt.
Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer has already made a pair of mistakes in left field and he’s only four innings into the first game of the best-of-five NLDS against the Dodgers.
Leading off the second inning, Justin Turner sent a well-struck liner to Cuddyer which was quite catchable, but the ball clanked off of the veteran’s glove. Turner was credited with a double. Mets starter Jacob deGrom was able to work around the misplay, striking out Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis, and Clayton Kershaw to close out the frame.
With two outs in the third inning, Corey Seager sent a fly ball down the left field line. Cuddyer took an inefficient route and the ball bounced about a foot inside the foul line, then into the stands, giving Seager a ground-rule double. To add insult to injury, Cuddyer ended up tumbling over the fence. deGrom, again, worked around Cuddyer’s mistake, striking out Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning.
Because he bats right-handed, Cuddyer got the start in left field over the left-handed-hitting rookie Michael Conforto against Kershaw, a southpaw. Conforto mustered only a .481 OPS against lefties this season compared to Cuddyer’s .698. Despite the batting disparity, one wonders how short a leash manager Terry Collins has on Cuddyer given his defense.
Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning, belting a solo home run to right field at Dodger Stadium off of starter Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw threw a 2-0, 94 MPH fastball and Murphy didn’t miss it.
Both teams’ starters are pitching quite well overall. Kershaw has allowed the one run on three hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Jacob deGrom started off the game with six consecutive strikeouts and has struck out seven total while blanking the Dodgers on three hits and a walk in three innings.
Kershaw doesn’t have the most impressive post-season track record, owning a career 5.12 ERA across eight starts and three relief appearances spanning 51 innings. Aside from the homer, the lefty appears to be putting that notion aside.
Eric Fisher of the Sports Business Journal reports that the value of a qualifying offer for free agents this off-season has been set at $15.8 million. That represents an increase of a half-million dollars over last year’s value.
This is of particular interest with regards to the big-name free agents, including Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, Yovani Gallardo, Jordan Zimmermann, and Jeff Samardzija.
Teams that make a qualifying offer to a player that ends up being rejected receive a compensation draft pick in the upcoming draft. The team that signs the player who rejected a qualifying offer gives up their earliest non-protected draft pick.
Free agents who had been traded mid-season aren’t eligible to receive a qualifying offer. This includes Yoenis Cespedes, David Price, Johnny Cueto, and Ben Zobrist, among others.
A player has yet to accept a qualifying offer since the QO system was implemented.