Last night’s big Justin Verlander-Yu Darvish matchup proved to be a bust, as the two aces combined to allow 12 runs. Darvish at least managed to fight through some early struggles to complete eight innings, whereas Verlander failed to make it out of the third inning in the worst start of his career.
Of course, Darvish needed 130 pitches for those eight innings and considering the Rangers were up 9-4 after five innings and 10-4 after seven innings it seems odd that they’d let him pile up so many pitches in a game that wasn’t really in doubt. After completing six innings of four-run ball Darvish had thrown 102 pitches, but they trotted him out there for two more innings in a blowout.
Asked to explain afterward, here’s what manager Ron Washington said:
I saw the big lead; the lineup they got, it’s not soft anywhere in it. Even though we had the lead, I wasn’t comfortable. I felt like he needed to get us through the eighth inning to give our bullpen a break, and he certainly did that. … Yu Darvish, in my opinion, is a stud. And I don’t think we overworked him tonight.
So … basically Washington kept Darvish out there because he didn’t feel comfortable with a 9-4 or 10-4 lead.
Darvish racked up some huge pitch counts in Japan and said afterward that he felt perfectly comfortable going to 130 last night, but it’s worth noting that he also threw 127 pitches on May 5, with a 105-pitch start in between. To be piling up that sort of workload this early in the season seems awfully short-sighted and sure enough Todd Willis of ESPN Dallas reports that “Rangers general manager Jon Daniels met with manager Ron Washington after Thursday’s game to discuss Darvish’s pitch count.”
Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).
Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.
Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.
Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.
Orioles’ center fielder Michael Bourn is expected to be sidelined for four weeks while he rehabs a broken ring finger on his right hand, according to reports from the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck. Bourn broke the finger while playing catch with a football after a spring training workout.
The veteran outfielder re-signed with the club earlier this week on a minor league deal and was prepared to compete for a bench role this season. He’s in line to receive a $2 million salary if he makes the major league roster and can make an additional $3.5 million in incentives based on a set number of plate appearances. Now, however, his chances of cracking the roster out of spring training look considerably diminished, as his current timetable gives him an approximate return date of March 25 if all goes well.
Bourn had an impressive, if short-lived run with the Orioles following his trade to Baltimore last August, batting .283/.358/.435 with two home runs and a .793 OPS in 55 PA. While still somewhat removed from the totals that brought him an All-Star nod with the Braves in 2012, his defensive chops should give the Orioles some depth in center once he’s healthy again.