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.”
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.