The Athletics have decided to move Jesse Hahn into the starting rotation, replacing Raul Alcantara, NBC Sports California’s Joe Stiglich reports. Alcantara will move to the bullpen.
Alcantara, 24, struggled mightily in his first start on Friday against the Rangers, serving up eight runs in two innings of work. The right-hander is the Athletics’ 24th-best prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.
Hahn, 27, relieved Alcantara on Friday and pitched six solid innings, yielding only two runs. He made 25 starts for the A’s between 2015-16, pitching well in ’15 but struggling last season.
Phillies closer Jeanmar Gomez hasn’t done much to inspire confidence in his ability to handle the ninth inning. He served up a two-run home run to the Reds’ Scooter Gennett, cutting the Phillies’ lead from 4-1 to 4-3 in the ninth inning on Opening Day. On Sunday against the Nationals, Gomez erased a 3-0 lead when he gave up a game-tying, three-run home run to Ryan Zimmerman.
Gomez’s struggles date back to last season. Between August 14 and the end of the regular season, Gomez appeared in 19 games, accrued 15 innings, and gave up 22 earned runs on 29 hits and eight walks with 10 strikeouts. That’s a rather large 13.20 ERA for those keeping score.
Gomez doesn’t have the stuff often seen with closers. He struck out batters at a meager 15.8 percent clip last season, well below the 22.7 percent league average for relievers. His 7.4 walk rate was only marginally below nine percent league average as well, not nearly good enough to make up for the lack of whiffs. Gomez has a fastball that sits in the low-90’s, relying more on getting ground balls. But the two ground balls he induced for outs in the ninth inning Sunday were his first two of the season; he has yielded five fly balls and three line drives.
MLB.com’s Ben Harris reports that manager Pete Mackanin is “considering” demoting Gomez from the closer’s role. He’ll have a talk with the veteran to determine his next steps. It would not be surprising to see Joaquin Benoit or Hector Neris take over the ninth inning if not on Monday, then before the month is out.
Sunday afternoon was not a good day for relief pitchers wearing a Mariners uniform. The Mariners entered the bottom of the ninth inning against the Angels with a healthy 9-3 lead. Casey Fien had the responsibility of keeping the game out of reach for the Halos, but it was a responsibility he could not fulfill.
Albert Pujols led off with a solo home run to center field, making it a 9-4 game. Fien then walked Cliff Pennington, allowed a single to C.J. Cron, and walked Ben Revere to load the bases. Edwin Diaz came in to relieve Fien and he at least got an out when Danny Espinosa hit a ground ball to second base. Diaz fanned Martin Maldonado for the second out. Despite all that happened, the Angels still only had a 1.8 percent chance of winning according to FanGraphs.
Unfortunate for the Mariners, Yunel Escobar followed up with a bases-clearing double, cutting the deficit to 9-7. During the next at-bat, facing Kole Calhoun, Diaz uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Escobar to move to third base. Diaz finished off the at-bat by issuing a walk to Calhoun on four pitches, then walked Trout on four pitches to re-load the bases. Pujols, up for his second at-bat of the inning, singled to right field, plating two runs to tie the game at nine-all. Pennington ended it with a single to right, scoring Trout for the walk-off win.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, teams had lost 346 consecutive games entering Sunday when they trailed by six or more runs entering the ninth inning. The Angels ended that streak.