C.J. Nitkowski may soon find himself back in the majors for the first time since 2005.
We mentioned about a month ago that Nitkowski had signed a minor league contract with the Mets. It was essentially a last-ditch effort to keep his career alive. And boy has he taken advantage of the opportunity. Now using a sidearm delivery, the 39-year-old southpaw has 13 strikeouts over 10 1/3 scoreless innings between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Buffalo.
According to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, Nitkowski’s strong performance now has him “on the radar” for a call-up when rosters expand in September.
“He is certainly in the conversation,” a team official told Martino. “If he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’ll be up.”
The Mets obviously don’t have a lot going for them at this point of the season, but stories like this are what September call-ups are all about. Heck, given the state of the team’s bullpen, they could probably use the guy right now.
Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.
When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.
Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.