The Twins had one of the worst pitching staffs in the majors this season, finishing with a combined 4.77 ERA that ranked 28th out of baseball’s 30 teams.
It was a given that they’d try to do some patchwork this winter, but could a big splash be on the way?
According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Twins have already made “inquiries” about a possible trade for Rays right-hander James Shields. Nothing is close, but it stands to reason that Tampa Bay will be open to making a deal involving Shields this offseason given their solid organizational rotation depth and cost-conscious methods.
Shields is owed $9 million in 2013 and carries a $12 million club option for the 2014 season. And unless something changes drastically, the Rays won’t have the money to lock him up long term.
Minnesota’s Chris Parmelee could be attractive, packaged with either Denard Span or Ben Revere.
Shields, 30, registered a sparkling 3.52 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 223/58 K/BB ratio across 227 2/3 innings (33 starts) this summer for the Rays. Cafardo suspects that the Dodgers will also make a run at him.
Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.
The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.
For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.
Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.
The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.
Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.
It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.