After giving up 11 runs and pitching just 10 innings in his last three starts, Barry Zito is apparently on his way out of the Giants rotation. The team has listed its Sunday starter as TBA.
Zito, whose seven-year, $126 million contract finally expires at season’s end, came up big in the Giants’ postseason run last year, going 15-8 with a 4.15 ERA during the regular season and then 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in the playoffs for the World Series winners. However, he’s slipped to 4-8 with a 5.09 ERA and an ugly 1.68 WHIP this year.
Despite the poor record, Zito has been an effective pitcher more than half of the time this year. Check out his splits:
Home: 4-1, 2.66 ERA, 4 HR in 74 1/3 IP (12 starts)
Road: 0-7, 9.97 ERA, 8 HR in 37 IP (nine starts)
That includes his “road” start in last week’s doubleheader against the Reds counted as a home outing. The game, originally scheduled for Cincinnati, was played in San Francisco with the Reds as the home team.
Zito’s next turn was scheduled to come in Tampa Bay against a Rays team that has an average 36 points higher versus lefties than righties, so it makes a ton of sense to skip him, at the very least. However, with the Giants hoping to get Ryan Vogelsong back from the DL next week, it could be at least a semi-permanent trip to the pen. Guillermo Moscoso could be the choice to start in his place Sunday.
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.