Brewers first baseman Eric Thames spent the previous three seasons of his career in Korea playing with the NC Dinos. Once a major league washout, Thames resuscitated his career, smashing 37, 47, and 40 home runs in consecutive seasons in the KBO. That was enough to entice the Brewers to offer him a three-year, $16 million contract.
Thames has showed that the power he found overseas is no fluke. He homered in each of his last four games — including two against the Reds on Saturday — entering Monday’s game against the Cubs. He made it five straight when he hit a homer to the opposite field in the third inning off of John Lackey. According to Baseball Reference, Thames is the first hitter since Brian Dozier last September 2-6 to hit a homer in five consecutive games. He’s the first Brewer to do so since Jeromy Burnitz (August 1-5) in 1997.
Coming into Monday’s game, Thames was hitting .368/.455/.921 with six home runs, 11 RBI, and 12 runs scored in 44 plate appearances. Pretty good. He’s now the major league leader with seven round-trippers.
Three players were suspended on Monday after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. They are: Indians pitcher Steve Delabar, Mariners pitcher Jonathan Aro, and free agent pitcher Jeffry Hernandez. Aro got a 50-game suspension while the other two were handed 80-game suspensions.
Delabar, 33, hasn’t pitched yet this season after signing a minor league deal with the Indians back in January. He spent last year with the Reds as well as the Hiroshima Carp in the Japan Central League. The right-hander has struggled over the last few seasons.
Aro, 26, also hasn’t appeared yet this season in the minors. He’s worked mostly in relief. The right-hander appeared briefly in the majors with the Mariners last season and logged 10 1/3 innings in the show with the Red Sox in 2015. Aro went to the Mariners along with Wade Miley in the trade that brought the Red Sox Carson Smith and Roenis Elias.
Hernandez, 22, is a free agent and his suspension will be effective if and when he signs with a new team.
The Phillies announced on Monday that starter Aaron Nola has been placed on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to April 21, with a lower back strain.
Nola, 23, compiled a 4.50 ERA with a 15/6 K/BB ratio over his first three starts spanning 16 innings. He felt some back soreness during his last start on Thursday against the Mets, and it lingered when he had a side session on Sunday.
CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury hears that the Phillies are likely to call up Nick Pivetta from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to take Nola’s place in the rotation. Nola was scheduled to start on Wednesday.
Pivetta, 24, was acquired from the Nationals in the Jonathan Papelbon trade in July 2015. At Triple-A so far, Pivetta has given up only two earned runs on 12 hits and two walks with 24 strikeouts in 19 innings.