Red Sox closer Alfredo Aceves is on a roll, having converted nine straight save chances. And they haven’t all been easy: in the last week, he has three save of four outs.
That may not look overly significant at first glance, but Aceves is the only reliever with multiple saves of more than three outs this season. In all, there have been 16 saves of more than one inning. Four of those were of the three-inning variety in games that were blowouts. Just seven of the saves took place in games that were decided by three runs or fewer, and Aceves has three of them.
Today, Aceves entered a 6-5 game against the Orioles with the tying run on second and struck out Nick Johnson, who had homered twice, to end the eighth. He then pitched a perfect ninth.
Of course, Aceves is used to the heavier workload and is probably better conditioned than any other closer to get saves of four-to-six outs. Credit should go to Bobby Valentine for realizing that and not saving him for the ninth in games when he’s needed earlier.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.