The setup market is all set up: Joe Smith and the Angels have come to terms on a three-year contract, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
Yahoo! Sports’ Tim Brown reports that it’s worth $15.75 million.
Obviously, it’s a big price for a pretty anonymous guy, but Smith has a 2.97 ERA since entering the league in 2007 and has come in under that each of the last three years. He finished 6-2 with a 2.29 ERA and a 54/23 K/BB ratio in 63 innings for the Indians last season.
The big key with Smith is that he’s improved enough against left-handers these last few years that he can be left in to face them in big situations. When he first came into the league, he could only be trusted against righties. Lefties hit a modest .227/.325/.373 against him last season, and that was actually the best they’ve fared since 2010.
Smith will overtake Dane De La Rosa as the top setup man in front of Ernesto Frieri in the Anaheim bullpen. He’s an upgrade for sure, but at what cost? This is $5 million that can’t be spent to upgrade a rotation that has Garrett Richards for a third starter and some combination of Joe Blanton, Jerome Williams, Tommy Hanson, Wade LeBlanc and Chris Volstad next on the depth chart (Williams and Hanson are both non-tender candidates). The money would have been better used there. Between Frieri, De La Rosa, a much improved Michael Kohn, old standby Kevin Jepsen and other pieces like Ryan Brasier, Cory Rasmus, Juan Gutierrez and the newly acquired Fernando Salas, it seems like the Angels could have cobbled together the right-handed portion of their pen just fine.
For the first time in major league history, both pitchers in a playoff game have struck out at least 11 batters, per MLB.com’s Paul Casella. Mets starter Jacob deGrom has pitched just a hair better than Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw overall. deGrom has blanked the Dodgers over six frames on five hits and a walk. Kershaw made one mistake, resulting in a solo home run to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning. He’s allowed four hits and four walks total in 6 2/3 innings.
The last time opposing starters each struck out 10 in a post-season game was back in 1944 in Game 5 of the World Series when Mort Cooper of the St. Louis Cardinals struck out 12 and Denny Galehouse of the St. Louis Browns struck out 10.
Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer has already made a pair of mistakes in left field and he’s only four innings into the first game of the best-of-five NLDS against the Dodgers.
Leading off the second inning, Justin Turner sent a well-struck liner to Cuddyer which was quite catchable, but the ball clanked off of the veteran’s glove. Turner was credited with a double. Mets starter Jacob deGrom was able to work around the misplay, striking out Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis, and Clayton Kershaw to close out the frame.
With two outs in the third inning, Corey Seager sent a fly ball down the left field line. Cuddyer took an inefficient route and the ball bounced about a foot inside the foul line, then into the stands, giving Seager a ground-rule double. To add insult to injury, Cuddyer ended up tumbling over the fence. deGrom, again, worked around Cuddyer’s mistake, striking out Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning.
Because he bats right-handed, Cuddyer got the start in left field over the left-handed-hitting rookie Michael Conforto against Kershaw, a southpaw. Conforto mustered only a .481 OPS against lefties this season compared to Cuddyer’s .698. Despite the batting disparity, one wonders how short a leash manager Terry Collins has on Cuddyer given his defense.
Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning, belting a solo home run to right field at Dodger Stadium off of starter Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw threw a 2-0, 94 MPH fastball and Murphy didn’t miss it.
Both teams’ starters are pitching quite well overall. Kershaw has allowed the one run on three hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Jacob deGrom started off the game with six consecutive strikeouts and has struck out seven total while blanking the Dodgers on three hits and a walk in three innings.
Kershaw doesn’t have the most impressive post-season track record, owning a career 5.12 ERA across eight starts and three relief appearances spanning 51 innings. Aside from the homer, the lefty appears to be putting that notion aside.