Houston Astros v Tampa Bay Rays

Jarred Cosart dazzles in Major League debut against the Rays

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23-year-old Astros pitching prospect Jarred Cosart made his Major League debut tonight against the Rays. He carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning, losing it on a one-out single to right field by Ben Zobrist. He went eight-plus innings, shutting out the Rays and out-dueling reigning AL Cy Young award winner David Price.

Throughout the game, Cosart looked sharp and in control. Rays hitters had a tough time squaring him up as he induced grounder after grounder (12 of his 16 batted balls out were on the ground). After Cosart lost the no-hit bid, the Astros had Lucas Harrell warm up in the bullpen just in case, but with 91 pitches and three consecutive right-handed hitters due up in the ninth inning, Cosart was allowed to take the hill to complete the gem. He walked Kelly Johnson to lead off the inning and was relieved by closer Jose Veras.

Veras promptly induced a 6-4-3 double play from Yunel Escobar. Following a throwing error by shortstop Jake Elmore, Luke Scott won a nine-pitch at-bat with a line drive RBI single to center. Veras struck out Evan Longoria looking to end the game, sealing an Astros 2-1 victory.

The Astros acquired Cosart, along with Jonathan Singleton, Josh Zeid, and Domingo Santana from the Phillies in the Hunter Pence trade back on July 29, 2011.

Some trivia about Cosart’s debut:

Cosart was attempting to become the first pitcher since Bumpus Jones in 1892 to throw a no-hitter in his Major League debut. The Astros had planned to option him back to the Minors after his start tonight, and likely will still do so even despite the impressive outing as they wouldn’t need him again until July 23.

Dodgers sign Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million deal

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Rich Hill #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs in game three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.

Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.

Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.

UPDATE: Giants agree to a deal with Mark Melancon

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 10:  Mark Melancon #43 of the Washington Nationals reacts after the final out as the Nationals defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-3 in game three of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.

12:15 PMKen Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.

Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.

The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.

What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.

Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.