Mets rookie starter Zack Wheeler was on point tonight against the Padres, holding them to one run on seven hits and a walk over six innings. He eclipsed his previous career-best seven strikeouts, set in his Major League debut on June 18 against the Braves, getting number eight with a fourth-inning punch-out of Jedd Gyorko. He finished with 12 on the night, the 36th 12-strikeout or better game this season. Wheeler lowered his ERA to 3.43 in the effort.
The game was locked at 1-1 through seven innings. In the top of the eighth with two outs, Mike Baxter stole second base after being hit by a Luke Gregerson slider. Rather than pitch to the left-handed Daniel Murphy, Padres manager Bud Black opted to intentionally walk him to face Marlon Byrd. Byrd promptly made the Padres pay, driving a 1-1 cutter over right fielder Chris Denorfia’s head for a two-run double, putting the Mets up 3-1.
Reliever Gonzalez Germen pitched a scoreless eighth, dancing out of some two-out trouble. John Buck added some insurance with a solo home run to left in the top of the ninth. Without LaTroy Hawkins, the Mets asked German to come back out for another inning. The right-hander promptly retired the side in short order for a 4-1 Mets victory, notching the first save of his career and becoming the fifth different Met to record a save on the season.
The Red Sox have more or less withdrawn from the Edwin Encarnacion sweepstakes, with Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald noting that much of their reluctance hinges on the likelihood that they’d exceed the new $195 million luxury tax threshold by locking the DH into a lucrative deal. That doesn’t leave them without options, however, and FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported that the club could be interested in 29-year-old corner infielder Pedro Alvarez, as well as fellow free agents Mike Napoli and Matt Holliday.
After playing just 10 games at DH from 2010 to 2015, Alvarez suited up as the Orioles’ primary designated hitter and part-time third baseman in 2016. His defense is sub-par, to say the least, but he batted .249/.322/.504 with 22 home runs for Baltimore in 2016.
According to Heyman, the Red Sox envision using Alvarez in much the same way the Orioles did. He’d have a place as the team’s DH with the occasional infield start, while Hanley Ramirez would keep his post at first base. Whether the Red Sox make offers to Napoli, Holliday or Alvarez, they’re expected to pursue a short-term deal in order to stay under budget.
The Braves signed left-handed reliever Jacob Lindgren to a one-year deal, according to a team announcement on Sunday.
Lindgren, the Yankees’ top draft pick in 2014, was nicknamed “The Strikeout Factory” after blowing through four levels of New York’s farm system in 2014. He started the 2015 season in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and was called up for his major league debut only two months into the 2015 season. The 22-year-old lasted seven innings with the club before succumbing to bone chips in his elbow, and underwent bone spur surgery in June before trying his luck again during spring training in 2016.
In August, the Yankees shut Lindgren down for the remainder of the season so the lefty could undergo Tommy John surgery. With a projected return date of 2018, Lindgren was non-tendered by the Yankees on Friday.
While the Braves won’t get the benefit of Lindgren’s top prospect skill set in their bullpen anytime soon, he will remain under club control if they keep him on their 40-man roster beyond the 2017 season (per ESPN’s Keith Law).