Aroldis Chapman blows away the Cardinals

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One would never know Aroldis Chapman was pitching for the third straight day for the first time in two years Sunday.

The Cuban left-hander fanned all three Cardinals he faced to protect a 4-2 lead in the ninth as the Reds completed their sweep tonight. Chapman pitched in all three games, striking out eight and allowing just one hit in three scoreless innings.

Chapman now has 79 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings for the year. It would be the highest strikeout rate ever for a season of at least 40 innings. Here’s the top 10 in K/9 IP:

16.80 – Chapman (2012 Reds) – 79 K in 42.1 IP
16.10 – Kenley Jansen (2011 Dodgers) – 96 K in 53.2 IP
15.99 – Carlos Marmol (2010 Cubs): – 138 K in 77.2 IP
14.98 – Eric Gagne (2003 Dodgers): – 137 K in 82.1 IP
14.95 – Billy Wagner (1999 Astros): 124 K in 74.2 IP
14.93 – Brad Lidge (2004 Astros): 157 K in 94.2 IP
14.84 – Craig Kimbrel (2011 Braves): 127 K in 77 IP
14.77 – Armando Benitez (1999 Mets): 128 K in 78 IP
14.55 – Billy Wagner (1998 Astros): 97 K in 60 IP
14.38 – Billy Wagner (1997 Astros): 106 K in 66.1 IP

No starters on that list, obviously. The top K rate ever for a starting pitcher was Randy Johnson at 13.41 with the Diamondbacks in 2001 (372 K in 249.2 IP).

Chapman blew back-to-back save opportunities for the Reds on June 19 & 24, but he’s been on an incredible tear since, allowing just two hits in seven scoreless innings. 19 of his 21 outs during the span have come on strikeouts.

Giants place Hunter Pence on 10-day disabled list with right thumb sprain

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The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.

Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).

Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.