After shutting out the Mets over six innings on August 24, it seemed like even 25 wins was possible for the Tigers’ right-hander. But in four starts since, Max Scherzer has lost twice and earned two no-decisions, failing to reach the 20-win threshold. As MLB Network’s Brian Kenny will be quick to point out, this by no means indicates that Scherzer has pitched poorly.
This afternoon, Scherzer held the Royals to one run on five hits and a walk while striking out 12 in seven innings of work. Scherzer left with a 2-1 lead. In the eighth against reliever Drew Smyly, Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar doubled to lead off the inning, stole third with one out, then came around to score on a wild pitch to tie the game and take Scherzer out of the running for the W.
In the bottom of the eighth, Alex Avila smacked his 11th homer of the year to right-center, putting the Tigers up 3-2. Joaquin Benoit pitched a perfect ninth to wrap up the victory, his 20th save of the year. Smyly got the win, bumping his record up to 6-0.
With the loss, the Royals drop to 78-71, 3.5 games behind the second AL Wild Card. The Tigers improve to 86-63, 5.5 games ahead of the second-place Indians in the AL Central.
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.