Corey Kluber

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Indians 4, Royals 1: You can’t stop Corey Kluber, you can only hope to contain him. And I don’t mean that in the ironic, 1990s-Dan Patrick way. I really mean it. He allowed only one run on four hits while pitching into the ninth while striking out 10 in this one, but he’s been doing this stuff all year. His record is only 8-6, but he has struck out 137 dudes in 125.2 innings while walking only 30. He’s sporting a 2.86 ERA and a WHIP of 1.18.

Marlins 8, ,Cardinals 4: Henderson Alvarez is the National League’s Corey Kluber (i.e. that dude you really didn’t realize was having a fantastic season, but by gum he sure is. One run allowed in seven innings here, a 2.27 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP on the season. While his record is nothing to write home about, the Marlins have won his last ten starts.

Angels 6, Astros 1: Garrett Richards allowed one run in seven and a third while striking out 11 and notching his tenth win of the year. His ERA is 2.71, his strikeout rate is great, he has the lowest batting average against in the AL and he doesn’t walk too many dudes. Didn’t make the All-Star team, though, because. Well, I don’t know exactly. He’s in that final five thing with a bunch of other pitchers, including our friend Corey Kluber, but gee zooey, what’s a guy got to do?

Pirates 6, Phillies 2: The sweep. Jeff Locke gave up two runs — only one earned — on three hits and a walk in eight innings. Both Marlin Byrd and A.J. Burnett returned to face their former mates in Pittsburgh. It went better for Byrd, who homered, than it did for Burnett.

Diamondbacks 3, Braves 1: The Braves’ nine-game winning streak comes to an end thanks in part to a two-run homer to Paul Goldschmidt. B.J. Upton’s 11-game hitting streak came to an end too, thanks in part to B.J. Upton.

Mets 8, Rangers 4: The Mets scored five in the first and cruised from there. Which is probably the least Mets thing to happen in quite some time, but every dog has his day. Anthony Recker hit a three-run homer in the first. Recker? Damn near killed him! Wait.

Reds 4, Brewers 2: Jay Bruce was 0 for his last 26 before hitting a tie-breaking two-run homer in the eighth. That’s two of three from first place Milwaukee and 10 of 15 overall for the Reds. I feel like this NL Central race is gonna get freaky and crazy within the next month or so.

Nationals 2, Cubs 1: Denard Span’s wheels helped win this one. He led off the eighth with a hit that would’ve been a single for most guys but he busted hard out of the box and just beat the tag sliding into second. Two outs and an intentional walk later, Ryan Zimmerman singled in Span for the go-ahead run. Otherwise, a nice pitching duel between Jake Arrieta and Jordan Zimmermann.

White Sox 1, Mariners 0: Hector Noesi is on his third team of the season and yesterday he faced his first team this season, shutting them out into the seventh inning. The Sox had just two hits and scored their lone run on a wild pitch. In other news, how a 1-0 game with only seven hits in it lasts close to three hours is a bloody mystery.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $25,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Monday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on MondayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Yankees 9, Twins 7: The Yankees took a 9-0 lead and then held on just hard enough as the Twins charged back. Jacoby Ellsbury homered, doubled and drove in four. More impressive: Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki each had three hits. Not bad for a couple of dead guys.

Dodgers 8, Rockies 2:  Matt Kemp had four hits and drove in two, Adrian Gonzalez drove in three and Juan Uribe had three hits as L.A. takes three of four. Josh Beckett allowed three hits in five scoreless, but still threw 82 pitches and it took him around an hour and a half to get that far. This is somewhat comforting to me. I had begun to grow discombobulated by quick and efficient Josh Beckett starts. This, however unwatchable it was, does restore some semblance of normalcy to the cosmos.

Giants 5, Padres 3: Tim Lincecum would very much like to pitch against the Padres forever. Two starts after no-hitting them, he allowed one run while pitching into the seventh. Overall, Lincecum had tossed 23.1 scoreless innings before Brooks Conrad hit a homer in the seventh. After the game Bruce Bochy and Lincecum each talked about how this resurgence may be the real deal, and that after several years of talking about how he has to make adjustments and learn to reinvent himself, he finally has. I hope so, because I really think baseball is more fun when The Freak is dominating, but I think I need to see more than three starts against poor offenses before I’ll buy in.

Athletics 4, Blue Jays 2: Jeff Samardzija made his Oakland debut and he immediately showed why the A’s wanted him. He allowed one run on four hits and a walk in seven innings, helping the A’s finish off the sweep against the Jays. Samardzija also learned yesterday that he made the NL All-Star team. He won’t pitch, however, and he’ll actually be in the AL dugout. He’ll still get more run support doing that than he ever got in Chicago.

Orioles 7, Red Sox 6: The O’s and Red Sox played a day-night doubleheader on Saturday and then went 12 innings here. The Orioles blew a 6-1 lead in the seventh but then David Lough hit a triple in the 12th and then scored on a J.J. Hardy single to give Baltimore their sixth win in seven games.

Rays 7, Tigers 3: Rick Porcello had been on a roll, but his roll was slowed by the Rays, who scored seven runs on 11 hits off him. David Price, in contrast, was in control until the ninth when he gave up a leadoff homer and then lost his mojo and couldn’t get the complete game, but by then it was academic. Tampa Bay took three of four from the Tigers and have won 8 of 10 overall.

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.