No strikeouts, no problem for Aaron Cook

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Despite going without a strikeout for the fourth time in five starts as a member of the Red Sox, Aaron Cook limited the White Sox to just an unearned run over seven innings in Boston’s 5-1 victory Monday.

The sinkerballing Cook has recorded a mere two strikeouts in 29 2/3 innings this season, both of which came in his two-hit shutout of the Mariners on June 29. He’s the only pitcher this year to go back-to-back starts without a strikeout, and he’s now done it twice. Despite that, he’s 2-2 with a 3.34 ERA. He has a 1.67 ERA in his four starts since coming off the DL last month.

Cook has certainly never been a strikeout pitcher, but he’s in some rare air indeed right now, averaging 0.61 strikeouts per nine innings. Min. 80 innings, here are the tiniest strikeout rates since 2000:

2.10 – Kirk Rueter (2005 Giants) – 25 K in 107.1 IP
2.13 – Nate Cornejo (2003 Tigers) – 46 K in 194.2 IP
2.51 – Kirk Rueter (2003 Giants) – 41 K in 147 IP
2.59 – Aaron Cook (2005 Rockies) – 24  K in 83.1 IP
2.65 – Kirk Rueter (2004 Giants) – 56 K in 190.1 IP
2.98 – Jimmy Gobble (2004 Royals) – 49 K in 148 IP
2.99 – Kirk Saarloos (2005 Athletics) – 53 K in 159.2 IP
3.01 – Jimmy Anderson (2002 Pirates) – 47 K in 140.2 IP
3.12 – Aaron Cook (2003 Rockies) – 43 K in 124 IP
3.14 – Chien-Ming Wang (2006 Yankees) – 76 K in 218 IP

Toronto’s Henderson Alvarez was in ninth place at 3.02 before striking out six in six innings tonight and  knocking himself out of the top 10.  Cook could join Rueter with three spots here if this keeps up.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.