Justin Verlander turned in another rough outing last night, allowing seven runs in 5.2 innings against the White Sox. And nearly all of the damage came in the sixth inning, following five innings of one-run ball to begin the game.
There’s no shame in serving up a homer to Jose Abreu, but Verlander also walked four batters and allowed eight hits while falling to 6-6 with a 4.61 ERA on the season. And that’s after posting a 2.48 ERA in April.
In his last six starts Verlander has allowed 35 runs in 37.2 innings, posting an ugly 7.41 ERA and .312 opponents’ batting average while managing a sub par 24/18 K/BB ratio. He’s yielded six homers in those six starts after allowing a grand total of 19 homers in 34 starts last year and an average of 18 homers per 34 starts for his entire career.
In other words he’s a mess right now, although last night at least Verlander averaged 95.8 miles per hour on his fastball, topping out at 99.0 mph, so velocity-wise there were no issues. His next start comes Monday against the Royals, who rank 12th among AL teams in runs and dead last in homers and slugging percentage. So if Verlander struggles again versus Kansas City … woof.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.