Reds closer Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth inning last night against the Pirates to finish off his 20th save of the season. And he made some history in the process.
Chapman now holds the MLB record with at least one strikeout in 40 consecutive relief appearances. The streak dates back to last season. The previous record was held by Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter, who went 39 consecutive appearances with a strikeout in 1977. Former Dodgers closer Eric Gagne had 35 straight appearances with a strikeout from 2003-2014. Chapman is also fourth on the list, as he went 34 consecutive appearances with a strikeout from 2011-2012. But now he’s the top dog.
Chapman got a late start on the season after he was hit in the face by a comebacker during spring training, but he has been nothing short of sensational since returning. Averaging 100 mph (!) on his fastball, he has a 2.20 ERA over 28 2/3 innings to go along with a 57/10 K/BB ratio. Just to put things in perspective, Chapman has faced 108 batters this season. He has struck out 52.8 percent of them. That’s insane.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.