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 Astros have reportedly agreed to terms with free agent DH/outfielder Carlos Beltran for a one-year, $16 million contract, per ESPN’s Buster Olney. The deal includes a complete no-trade clause, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Beltran elected to return to the Astros after fielding offers from the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox. He appeared in Houston during the second half of 2004, batting .258/.368/.559 with 23 home runs in 399 PA and making his first postseason run to the tune of a .435 average and eight homers as the Astros battled their way through to a seven-game loss in the Championship Series. Beltran also played with Houston manager A.J. Hinch and bench coach Alex Cora in separate stints with the Royals and Mets, which the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan cited as possible influences in the Astros’ decision to pursue the free agent.
In 2016, Beltran split the season between the Yankees and Rangers after getting dealt at the deadline for a package of right-handed pitching prospects. He was stationed in right field for the majority of his time in New York, but was almost exclusively utilized as a designated hitter over 52 games in Texas. Between the two clubs, he batted an impressive .295/.337/.513 with 29 homers and earned his ninth career All-Star designation to boot.
The veteran slugger is expected to fill a similar role on the Astros, who need a full-time DH but could use some additional support in the outfield corner. Olney envisions a lineup with Beltran in the five-spot, per an earlier report:
Catcher Welington Castillo was non-tendered by the Diamondbacks on Friday, making him one of 35 additional players to enter the free agent pool. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Castillo was drawing interest from the Rays, among a bevy of major league clubs, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien added that the Braves have “some interest” as well.
The Rays’ trifecta of catchers — Curt Casali, Luke Maile, and Bobby Wilson — did little to inspire confidence behind the plate in 2016, and with top free agent Wilson Ramos sidelined after suffering a torn ACL in September, it makes sense that they’d explore more affordable options. Castillo profiled well at the plate during his first full season with the Diamondbacks, slashing .264/.322/.423 with 14 home runs in 457 PA. Behind the dish, he placed third among all qualified major league catchers with seven DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), though his league-leading 10 passed balls weren’t anything to write home about.
Unlike the Rays, the Braves have a serviceable catching platoon in Tyler Flowers and Anthony Recker. Beyond that, their catching depth is fairly shallow despite the recent addition of former Mariners’ outfield prospect Alex Jackson. Jackson, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Bradley, has not played behind the plate since high school, though GM John Coppolella is reportedly interested in trying him there again. A.J. Pierzynski is also rumored to be seeking a deal elsewhere in free agency, which could open the door for a multi-year deal with Castillo.