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The Astros’ new closer is Francisco Cordero


Veteran right-hander Francisco Cordero was unable to land a ninth-inning gig this past offseason and instead settled for a setup job and a one-year, $4.5 million free agent contract with the Blue Jays.

But he was traded to the Astros as part of Friday morning’s two-team, 10-player swap and has now stumbled back into his more familiar role.

From Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle comes word that Cordero has been named the Astros’ new closer, filling the spot left vacant by Saturday’s Brett Myers trade. It’s another crafty move by ‘Stros GM Jeff Luhnow, who may be able to get a bit of young talent out of the 37-year-old Cordero if he proves capable of retiring batters between now and the August 31 waiver deadline.

Cordero posted a rough 5.60 ERA and 1.75 WHIP in his 35 1/3 innings with Toronto, but lineups in the National League Central are considerably easier to navigate than those in the American League East.

Red Sox ask Hanley Ramirez to report 15-20 pounds lighter next spring

Hanley Ramirez
The Associated Press
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Hanley Ramirez was a complete failure in left field this season in Boston and he batted just .249/.291/.426 while appearing in only 105 games. Ben Cherington, the man that signed him to a four-year, $88 million free agent contract, is no longer with the Red Sox. It’s time for some tough love …

Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo, who just inked a two-year extension to return as John Farrell’s bench coach, told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald on Sunday that Hanley has been asked to drop 15-20 pounds over the offseason. There have been similar conversations with Boston’s other free agent failure, Pablo Sandoval.

Ramirez is expected to start at first base for the Red Sox in 2016.

Video: Clayton Kershaw notches his 300th strikeout

Clayton Kershaw
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Clayton Kershaw entered Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Padres needing six strikeouts to become the first pitcher in 13 years to whiff 300 batters in a single season.

He did it within the first nine batters of the game, whiffing Yangervis Solarte, Clint Barmes, Austin Hedges, and Travis Jankowski once each and Melvin Upton Jr. on two different occasions.

Here was the milestone matchup against Upton Jr. with two outs in the top of the third …

The last pitchers to reach 300 strikeouts in a season were Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. They did so as teammates on the 2002 Diamondbacks.

Kershaw is lined up to face the Mets in Game 1 of the NLDS.