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And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Dodgers 2, Padres 1: Clayton Kershaw’s scoreless innings streak was snapped after 41 2/3 innings when he gave up a homer to Chase Headley in the sixth inning, but other than that he was fantastic, striking out 11 while tossing a three-hitter and notching a complete game. The ERA is now down to 1.78.

Cubs 6, Reds 4: The Cubs avoid the rare five-game sweep thanks to Arismendy Alcantara, who had four hits and scored what proved to be the winning run in the 12th. It was part of a two-run triple hit by Luis Valbuena which he tried to stretch into an inside-the-park home run. Nice try, but it proved to be unnecessary.

Red Sox 4, White Sox 3: Sox win. Mike Carp walked ’em off with a pinch-hit RBI single in the 10th. Jon Lester gave up only one run on seven hits with 12 strikeouts and no walks. In his last six starts, he’s 3-0 with a 1.01 ERA, 39 strikeouts and six walks in 44 2/3 innings. He hasn’t given up a homer in 45 innings.

Phillies 9, Brewers 1: Matt Garza had took a no-hitter into the seventh. That ended there, and the shuotout ended in the eighth when Philly put up a seven-spot. The Phillies sweep the Brewers in four. And the Brewers’ freefall continues: they’ve lost nine of ten.

Orioles 4, Nationals 3: Steve Pearce homered and scored twice as Batlimore takes two of three (the rain took one) from Washington. The Orioles have won eight of ten.

Athletics 6, Giants 1: Josh Donaldson hit a two-run homer and Stephen Vogt drove in three to back up Scott Kazmir, who struck out nine in seven scoreless innings. Oakland has won seven of eight.

Indians 9, Yankees 3: The Indians presented Derek Jeter with an electric guitar which was painted white with Yankees pinstripes before the game, inscribed with Jeter’s No. 2 and the words, “The Captain.” That was the only good thing that happened to the Yankees yesterday. In the game they blew a 3-0 lead and didn’t score again after that. Roberto Perez homered as part of a five-run eighth inning. The Indians catcher was two for three with a walk in his debut.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $35,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Friday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on FridayHere’s the FanDuel link.
 Braves 3, Mets 1:

Angels 15, Rangers 6: It was 13-2 after three innings so, yeah. Mike Trout had a three-run homer and four hits and four RBI overall. The Angels won for the seventh time in eight games. Texas has lost five straight and 19 of 22.

Pirates 9, Cardinals 1: Edinson Volquez tossed a six-hit complete game allowing only one. Two RBI a piece for Neil Walker, Josh Harrison, Russell Martin and Andrew McCutchen.

Tigers 16, Royals 4: Another laugher, as the Tigers explain to the Royals that they are in first place and you, Kansas City, are firmly in second. Every Tigers hitter got a hit and scored a run. The Tigers have won four straight in Kauffman Stadium, outscoring the Royals 42-12.

Twins 4, Mariners 2: Kendrys Morales had a two-run double to back up Yohan Pino, who got his first big league victory by allowing one run over five. Then he was sent down to the minors because politics, man.

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.