Astros’ Fernando Rodriguez takes eighth relief loss of season

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Fernando Rodriguez might make a name for himself after all, just not in a good way.

The Astros right-hander took his eighth relief loss after giving up two runs in the 10th inning Sunday against the Brewers. His ERA jumped to 6.61.

Rodriguez has 34 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings this season, but his poor pitching could get him demoted anyway. If so, he might avoid becoming just the eighth reliever since 2000 and first since 2008 to lose to 10 games:

Luis Ayala – 12 losses – 2004 Expos
Scot Shields – 11 losses – 2005 Angels
Luis Ayala – 10 losses – 2008 Nationals/Mets
Yhency Brazoban – 10 losses – 2005 Dodgers
Jose Jimenez – 10 losses – 2002 Rockies
Al Levine – 10 losses – 2001 Angels
Derek Lowe – 10 losses – 2001 Red Sox

Ayala (2.69) and Shields (2.75) both had great ERAs in the seasons in which they top the list, and Shields actually had 10 wins to go against his 11 losses. Ayala’s second 10-loss season was closer to what one might expect; he had a 5.71 ERA that year.

The major league record for relief losses in a season belongs to the Braves’ Gene Garber. He lost 16 games while throwing 106 innings in 1979. All of the 23 relievers to lose at least 12 games in a season did so while throwing at least 90 innings. In general, one has to be pretty good to get that much work in close games.

That doesn’t explain Rodriguez, though.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.