CC Sabathia

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Yankees 14, Red Sox 5: It started off with lots of laughs for the Red Sox, but then the Yankees leapt out to a 7-0 lead by the top of the third and never looked back. Yangervis Solarte drove in four, Jacoby Ellsbury three, and Mark Teixeira hit his first homer of the year. More importantly: on the heels of losing Ivan Nova to Tommy John surgery and Michael Pineda to a suspension, CC Sabathia put up his second strong start in a row, allowing two runs over six innings with eight strikeouts.

Athletics 10, Astros 1: Just clown shoes from the Astros. Five errors and a nine-run loss is bad as it is, but then tossing on some gratuitous unwritten rule enforcement — from an incident in a totally different game, in a totally different series — is just ridiculous. You know, my original defense of Jed Lowrie bunting with a big lead in that first game was “hey, the A’s should stop trying only when the Astros say they’ve stopped trying.” But really, I don’t think that’s applicable anymore because the Astros are acting like they’re not even playing baseball these days.

Reds 2, Pirates 1: Tony Cingrani allowed one run on six hits in six inning while striking out seven. Cincinnati has won seven of nine and have reached .500 after a slow start.

Indians 5, Royals 1: The Royals make Corey Kluber look like Sandy Koufax (CG 4, H 0 ER, 11K, 0 BB). According to the AP, Kluber is the first Indians pitcher to throw a complete game while recording 11 strikeouts, no walks or earned runs since Len Barker’s perfect game in 1981. Kinda cool.

Mets 4, Cardinals 1: Nice outing for Bartolo Colon, who gave up only one run on four hits over seven. And an odd sight:  Daisuke Matsuzaka as a closer. He saved his first game since playing in Japan back in 2000. I don’t know this experiment will work — Dice-K is pretty much the opposite of what you want from a closer — but it’s kinda fun to see. Well, to the extent you can ever describe watching Matsuzaka “fun.”

Tigers 7, White Sox 4: Miguel Cabrera had two hits and drove in three, showing that his bat is waking up after hitting the snooze bar several times since the season began. Wait, are there snooze bars anymore? I’m sorta picturing an analog clock radio here when I suspect all you kids use your iPhones and stuff as an alarm clock. My unfamiliarity with this is not a function of me being old, though. It’s a function of me not sleeping that much.

Diamondbacks 5, Cubs 2: Mike Bolsinger snagged his first major league win, allowing one unearned run on four hits in six and two-thirds. He even hit an RBI single to [all together now] help his own cause.

Twins 9, Rays 7: Minnesota takes three of four in St. Pete. Aaron Hicks hit a three-run homer, Kurt Suzuki drove in three and Sam Fuld drove in two. 

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $60,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Friday evening MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $8,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on FridayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Padres 4, Nationals 3: A costly win for the Padres as they lost both Chase Headley and Seth Smith to injuries, but a win all the same. Xavier Nady hit an RBI single in the top of the 12th to put the Pads ahead. The Nats blew a ton of opportunities, going 0 for 16 with runners in scoring position and leaving 14 men on base.

Orioles 11, Blue Jays 4: Ten runs Wednesday night, 11 last night. I think it’s safe to say the O’s can hit the ball and/or the Jays staff has issues. Chris Davis drove in three. Nelson Cruz had two hits and drove in two. He’s had RBI in seven straight games. 

Phillies 7, Dodgers 3: Four runs in the ninth for the Phillies to turn a tie game into a laugher. Carlos Ruiz had the big hit, with a tiebreaking two-run double. Brian Wilson gave up all four of those runs on three hits and a walk. His ERA now stands at 15.75.

The Yankees are paying $86 million for a one-inning reliever

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OXON HILL, MD — The Yankees signing of Aroldis Chapman late Wednesday night came as something of a surprise. And the money — $86 million — was something of a shock. Yes, we knew that Chapman was going to break the bank and likely set a record as the highest paid relief pitcher in history, but seeing it in black and white like that is still rather jarring.

In the coming days, many people who attempt to analyze and contextualize this signing will do so by pointing to the 2016 playoffs and the unconventional use of relievers by Terry Francona and the Indians and Joe Maddon of the Cubs. They’ll talk about how the paradigm of bullpen use has shifted and how relief pitchers have taken on a new importance in today’s game. Chapman’s astronomical salary, therefore, will be described as somehow more reasonable and somewhat less shocking than it first seems.

Don’t buy that jive for a second.

Yes, Andrew Miller and, to some extent, Chapman himself were used unconventionally in the 2016 playoffs, but not long into the 2017 season we will see that as an exception, not the rule. And not just because Chapman showed himself unable to hold up to that level of use in the playoffs. It will be the exception because the Yankees have shown no inclination whatsoever to deviate from traditional bullpen usage in the past and there is no reason to expect that they will do so with Chapman in the future.

As you no doubt remember, the Yankees had Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller for the first half of 2016. Such an imposing back end of a bullpen has rarely been seen in recent history. All of them, however, were used, more or less, as one-inning-a-piece guys and no real effort was ever made to break any bullpen usage paradigms or to shorten games the way many applauded Terry Francona for doing in the playoffs.

Miller pitched 44 games for the Yankees, totaling 45.1 innings. He pitched more than a single inning on only three occasions. Chapman pitched 31 games for the Yankees, amassing 31.1 innings. He was used for more than one inning only twice. Betances worked in 73 games, totaling 73 innings. On 11 occasions he pitched more than one inning.  It was unconventional for a team to have three relievers that good, but they were not, in any way, used unconventionally. Nor is there any reason to expect Chapman to be used unconventionally in 2017, especially given that Miller is not around and Chapman has shown no real ability to be stretched for multiple innings for a sustained period.

None of which is to say that having Chapman around is a bad thing or that he is any less of a closer than his reputation suggests. It’s merely to say that the Yankees paying Chapman unprecedented money for a closer should not be justified by the alleged new importance of relief pitchers or that changing role for them we heard so much about in the playoffs. Indeed, I suspect that that changing role applies only to pitcher use in the playoffs. And I do not suspect that this transaction alone pushes the Yankees into serious playoff contention, making that temporary unconventionality something of a moot point in New York for the foreseeable future.

It is almost certain that the Yankees are paying $86 million for the same one-inning closer Aroldis Chapman has been for his entire seven-year career. His contract may or may not prove to be a good one for New York based on how he performs, but don’t let anyone tell you now, in Decemeber 2016, that it’s better than you think because Chapman will somehow transform into a 1970s-style relief ace or something.

Report: Yankees sign Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million deal

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Update (12:02 AM EST): Rosenthal adds that Chapman’s contract includes an opt-out clause after three seasons, a full no-trade clause for the first three years of the contract, and a limited no-trade clause for the final two years.

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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees have signed closer Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million contract. Mark Melancon recently set the record for a contract earned by a reliever at $62 million over four years. Chapman blew that out of the water and many are surprised he didn’t fetch more.

Chapman, 28, began the 2016 season with the Yankees but he was traded to the Cubs near the end of July in exchange for four prospects. The Cubs, of course, would go on to win the World Series in large part due to Chapman. The lefty finished the regular season with a 1.55 ERA, 36 saves, and a 90/18 K/BB ratio in 58 innings between the two teams.

Chapman was the best reliever on the free agent market and, because he was traded midseason, he didn’t have draft pick compensation attached to him.

The Yankees don’t seem to be deterred by Chapman’s domestic violence issue from last offseason, resulting in a 30-game suspension to begin the 2016 regular season.