Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates have re-signed right-hander Jeff Karstens to a one-year contract, pending a physical. It’s believed to be worth $2.5 million, which is less than the $3.1 million he made last year.
Karstens was non-tendered by the Pirates in late-November and there hasn’t been any buzz about him coming back, so this news comes as a bit of a surprise. The Pirates had agreed to a two-year deal with left-hander Francisco Liriano before word of an injury to his right (non-throwing arm) surfaced last week, so one wonders whether this means the club has officially moved on. At the very least, Karstens gives the Pirates a reasonably-priced fallback if the two sides can’t agree to an amended deal.
Karstens, 30, threw just 91 innings in 2012 due to hip and shoulder injuries. He has a 4.31 ERA in 535 innings with Pittsburgh over the past five seasons.
Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.
Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.
The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.
Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.
Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.
There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.
Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.