These last few weeks couldn’t have been easy for Red Sox left-hander Felix Doubront. With Clay Buchholz back and ready to pitch in the postseason, Doubront was sent to the pen at the end of the regular season after going 11-6 with a 3.87 ERA in his 27 starts. He didn’t want to make the move, and the Red Sox gave serious thought to leaving him off the postseason roster after he gave up five runs in 1 1/3 innings in his one relief appearance at the end of the season.
Doubront, though, was picked over Matt Thornton for the last spot in Boston’s pen. And for three weeks, he knew he was only going to pitch if things weren’t going very well. He didn’t work in the ALDS. His two ALCS appearances came with the Red Sox down 5-1 and 7-1 to the Tigers. He did, however, pitch 2 1/3 scoreless innings in those games, and the Red Sox came back and won the first of them, thanks to David Ortiz’s eighth-inning grand slam.
In the World Series, Doubront was again on the sidelines for two games, but he got the call in a tight game 3 after Jake Peavy’s early exit and pitched scoreless fifth and sixth innings. He was impressive enough that manager John Farrell bypassed Ryan Dempster and went right back to him in Game 4 tonight. This time, Doubront retired the first eight hitters he faced before giving up a single with two outs in the seventh. Craig Breslow replaced him and allowed the baserunner to come around, ruining Doubront’s perfect postseason ERA. Doubront, though, ended up with the win. He entered with the Red Sox down 1-0 and left with them up 4-1.
Doubront most likely will get a well deserved rest in Game 5 on Monday night, but in barely more than 24 hours, he’s transformed himself from guy who comes into losses to key player in the Boston pen. Of course, he’d still much rather be the key player in the rotation, but he’ll get that chance again next year.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.