The Cardinals’ most glaring need this offseason is a reliable left-handed reliever. And it appears they’ve begun to seriously consider the available options.
According to MLB.com Nationals beat writer Bill Ladson, the Cards have expressed interest recently in free agent southpaw Sean Burnett, who posted 2.38 ERA in 56 2/3 innings this past summer for Washington while holding left-handed batters to a measly .211/.245/.289 batting line. He has a cool 3.58 career ERA in six-plus major league seasons.
Ladson says Burnett, who turned 30 years old in September, is looking for a four-year contract. It’s not the Cardinals’ style to dish out long-term deals to relievers and it’s hard to see them making an exception here. But they’ll be ready to pounce on the Dunedin, Florida native if his asking price should drop.
UPDATE, 8:29 PM: Burnett’s agent told MLB Trade Rumors that his client is not looking for a four-year contract. “We are not seeking a four-year deal and it’s crazy to hear such rumors out there,” said the agent.
Tommy Pham started off his playoff career in style, blasting a solo home run in the eighth inning of the Cardinals’ Game 1 win against the Cubs, padding the lead to 2-0 at the time. Pham launched a 3-1, 87 MPH cutter from John Lester way over the fence in left-center field at Busch Stadium.
The Cardinals would tack on two more runs before the frame ended, as Stephen Piscotty hit a two-run homer against Pedro Strop.
Pham, 27, posted a .901 OPS in 196 plate appearances with Triple-A Memphis and an .824 OPS in 173 PA at the major league level. He was a great source of outfield depth for the Cardinals earlier this season when Randal Grichuk succumbed to an elbow injury.
The Angels have claimed outfielder Todd Cunningham off waivers from the Braves, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes was designated for assignment to create room for Cunningham on the 40-man roster.
Cunningham, 26, took only 93 trips to the plate for the Braves this season, batting .221/.280/.267 with 15 singles, four doubles, four RBI, and 13 runs scored. He did play above-average defense in limited playing time. Cunningham will simply serve as organizational outfield depth for the Halos.
The waiver claim is the first move made by new Angels GM Billy Eppler, who joined the team from the Yankees earlier this week.
John Lackey flirted with a no-hitter but settled for 7 1/3 terrific, shutout innings to beat the Cubs in Game 1 of the NLDS on Friday. The right-hander held the opposition to two hits and a walk while striking out five. Lefty reliever Kevin Siegrist struck out two to finish the eighth without issue. Closer Trevor Rosenthal worked around a one-out walk and a two-out single in the ninth to seal the 4-0 win, recording all three outs on called strike threes.
Lackey brought a no-hitter into the sixth inning, but lost it quickly when Addison Russell hit a ground ball single up the middle to lead off the frame. Russell would steal second base but was stranded.
Opposing starter Jon Lester wasn’t too shabby himself, relenting three runs on five hits while walking one and striking out nine in 7 1/3 innings. The first run came around in the first inning on Matt Holliday‘s RBI single, which followed a one-out double by Stephen Piscotty. Tommy Pham pinch-hit in the pitcher’s spot in the eighth inning and launched a solo home run off of Lester to double the Cardinals’ lead. Lester walked Matt Carpenter before exiting. Pedro Strop came in and promptly served up a two-run home run to Stephen Piscotty.
The closest the Cubs came to scoring was when Dexter Fowler sent a deep fly ball to right field with a man on base and two outs in the sixth inning, but Randal Grichuk caught it with a foot or two to spare in front of the fence on the warning track.
The two clubs will play Game 2 of the NLDS on Saturday at 5:30 PM EDT. Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs and oppose Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia.