Johnny Cueto didn’t have too much trouble with the Pittsburgh Pirates today. All he did was toss a three-hit shutout while striking out 12 and not walking a soul. He needed 107 pitches so he didn’t get The Maddux, but he probably didn’t sweat too much all the same.
The Pirates beat Cueto convincingly in the NL Wild Card game last fall, but today was a totally different story. In some ways an umpire-assisted story — at least from the Pirates’ perspective — as eight of his 12 strikeouts came on called third strikes. Many Pirates hitters looked back at Triple-A umpire Quinn Wolcott who was working the plate today. That stuff happens sometimes, though. We don’t have robot umps yet, so you sorta have to adjust your approach if you’re not getting the calls. The Pirates didn’t figure out how to do that.
Joey Votto hit a two-run homer, and the Reds ended up winning 4-0. It was the Reds’ first series win of the year.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.