Adam Wainwright’s comeback from Tommy John elbow surgery got off to a rough start, as he allowed 15 runs in his first 14 innings after missing all of last season.
Those early struggles have kept Wainwright’s overall numbers looking mediocre, but a closer look reveals that he’s been pretty close to his usual, top-of-the-rotation self for a while now.
Wainwright has a 3.74 ERA and 84/25 K/BB ratio in 89 innings since that rough three-start stretch to begin the season, allowing just five homers in 14 starts. And since tossing a complete-game shutout on May 22 he’s thrown 59 innings with a 3.66 ERA and fantastic 58/13 K/BB ratio.
His batting average on balls in play hasn’t been very good and that in turn has inflated his ERA a bit, but based on Wainwright’s secondary numbers and velocity he’s basically all the way back. His average fastball has clocked in at 90.3 miles per hour over the past 60 days, compared to his pre-surgery career mark of 90.7 mph, and his Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) of 3.09 overall this season is nearly identical to his 3.02 mark in 2010 and slightly better than his 3.32 mark in 2009.
It remains to be seen how well Wainwright can hold up physically as his workload approaches 200 innings, but if he doesn’t wear down don’t be surprised if he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball during the second half.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.