Behind eight dominant innings from starter Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers easily defeated the downtrodden Phillies 5-0 to win their tenth consecutive game. It is also their 42nd win in their last 50 games, an absurd .840 winning percentage. Kershaw held the Phillies scoreless on three hits and a walk while striking out eight. Kershaw even provided some offense, lacing an RBI double down the left field line in the fourth inning to put his team up 2-0. Juan Uribe stuck the dagger in the Phillies with a three-run home run in the top of the ninth.
It’s the second game in a row in which the Dodgers have shut out the Phillies. Zack Greinke and the bullpen did the deed last night in a 4-0 victory. The Phillies last scored in the ninth inning on Wednesday against the Braves, and have yet to score in the Ryne Sandberg era.
Kershaw lowered his ERA to 1.80, nearly a half-run better than the next-best ERA in baseball owned by Matt Harvey at 2.23.
Ricky Nolasco will attempt to keep the shutout trend going as he opposes Cole Hamels tomorrow.
Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?
Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.
It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.
Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.