After using 11 pitchers in 18 innings last night, the Rays needed a big outing from Alex Cobb this afternoon. He delivered, allowing just one run over 8 1/3 innings in a 5-1 victory over the Orioles.
Cobb was in control throughout, giving up just five hits and two walks while striking out 12 batters. He entered the ninth inning with a chance at a shutout, but David DeJesus misplayed a fly ball off the bat of Chris Davis and Adam Jones followed with an RBI single. Fernando Rodney secured the final two outs.
Cobb allowed two runs over eight innings and struck out 10 on Monday against the Rangers, so he’s stepping up at just the right time for the Rays. The 25-year-old right-hander now has a 2.90 ERA and 130/43 K/BB ratio over 136 1/3 innings this season.
Desmond Jennings drove in four out of the five runs for the Rays this afternoon, connecting for a three-run homer in the fifth inning and an RBI triple in the seventh. The 26-year-old only has a .246 batting average this season, but he has established new career-highs with 14 home runs and 54 RBI.
As for the Orioles, time is running out for them to make a run. Here’s our up-to-the-minute AL Wild Card standings:
Tampa Bay – 85-69
Cleveland – 84-70
Texas – 83-70 (.5 games back)
Kansas City – 81-72 (2.5 games back)
New York – 82-73 (2.5 games back)
Baltimore – 81-73 (3 games back)
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.