This has been a month of rarities for Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. Last week he recorded zero strikeouts in a game for the first time in 181 starts and last night he was ejected from a game for the first time in his entire 10-year career.
Hernandez was actually already removed from the game by Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon when he got ejected. As he was leaving the mound following a mediocre outing–he allowed four runs on eight hits in 6.2 innings, but got tons of run support for an easy win–Hernandez yelled at home plate umpire Mark Ripperger over what he felt were bad ball/strike calls earlier in the final at-bat that ended with a three-run double.
When questioned afterward about what he said to the umpire, King Felix joked: “I was asking about the Miami Heat score. He didn’t even know.”
Also of note is that after managing zero strikeouts in his previous start Hernandez struck out seven batters last night, although he’s now allowed 11 runs on 24 hits in 18 innings so far this month. Most of those issues look batting average on ball in play-related though, because Hernandez hasn’t coughed up a homer in May yet.
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The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.