Matthew Pouliot

Aaron Harang

Mariners designate Aaron Harang for assignment

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The Mariners now have an opening for Taijuan Walker in their rotation if they want to take it.

Aaron Harang, who have up seven runs in 5 2/3 innings Sunday in a loss to the Angels, was designated for assignment Monday. It was the fourth time in his last eight starts that he had given up seven runs, and he fell to 5-11 with a 5.76 ERA for the year.

Harang’s stint in Seattle was quite the roller coaster ride. He’s one of just seven pitchers with multiple shutout this year, having blanked the Padres on May 27 and the Astros on June 11.  He also had five starts in which he allowed just one run, three of them coming since the All-Star break.

Overall, Harang had a solid 87/26 K/BB ratio in 120 1/3 innings, but he had given up 21 homers even with Safeco Field helping him along. What hasn’t helped in a Seattle defense that rates among the worst in the league.

Of course, now that it’s too late for Harang, the Mariners are getting their best defensive outfielder back today in Franklin Gutierrez. He was activated from the DL to replace Harang on the roster. Brandon Maurer and Hector Noesi are a couple of possibilities to take his rotation spot. The Mariners could also give Walker, their No. 1 prospect, a look next month. The 21-year-old is 5-3 with a 3.61 ERA and a 64/27 K/BB ratio in 57 1/3 IP since moving up to Triple-A Tacoma.

ICYMI, Edwin Encarnacion is superb

Edwin Encarnacion
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The Blue Jays are just going through the paces right now. Absent Jose Bautista, they’ve lost seven in a row and fallen to 57-73 on the season. The year’s most disappointing team, they have nothing left to play for.

Just don’t tell Edwin Encarnacion that. He’s homered three times during the current seven-game losing streak. Tonight’s was his 33rd of the year. He also walked three times, and he’s now sporting an outstanding 55/71 K/BB ratio for the year. Since the beginning of June, he has 18 homers, 47 walks and just 22 strikeouts.

Encarnacion is currently on pace to finish the season with 41 homers and 69 strikeouts. Just two different players since 2001 have managed to have 40-homer seasons while striking out less than 80 times: Albert Pujols did it six times, the last in 2010, and Barry Bonds did it three times (plus twice more in the 1990s).

This is Hall of Fame-type territory, for sure. Not that every player who has done it has gone on to the Hall of Fame, but almost everyone to accomplish it is at least a fringe candidate. Besides Bonds and Pujols, the last to get there were Gary Sheffield, Vladimir Guerrero, Todd Helton, Rafael Palmeiro and Mike Piazza. The exceptions to the fringe-HOFer rule in the last 40 years are Tino Martinez in 2007, George Bell in 1987 and Ben Oglivie in 1980.

Obviously, Encarnacion currently rates a lot closer to Martinez than Pujols, but he’s far from a flash in the pan. He was an underrated hitter in his early years in Cincinnati, with his poor glove holding him back and getting him sent to the bench whenever he had a few bad games in a row. He’s been one of the AL’s best hitters the last two years now and he’s still just 30. He should have at least another two or three big years in front of him.

Jose Fernandez does it again: seven scoreless versus Rockies

Jose Fernandez
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Jose Fernandez furthered his Rookie of the Year case Saturday, hurling seven scoreless innings versus the Rockies to improve to 10-5 on the season.

A.J. Ramos and Steve Cishek finished the 3-0 shutout.

Fernandez has overtaken Shelby Miller, Julio Teheran and Hyun-Jin Ryu over the last couple of months to head the rookie class of NL pitchers. It’s quite a group. Those four were among the 11 NL starters with sub-3.00 ERAs at the start of the day, and oddly enough, all four were slated to start today. Teheran and Ryu did see their ERAs jump over 3.00 in losses. Teheran’s Braves were defeated by Miller’s Cardinals.

Here’s how all four stand at the moment:

Fernandez: 10-5, 2.30 ERA in 152 2/3 IP
Miller: 12-8, 2.90 ERA in 139 2/3 IP
Teheran: 10-7, 3.08 ERA in 155 IP
Ryu: 12-5, 3.08 ERA in 160 2/3 IP

Fernandez has a chance to finish with one of the lowest ERAs ever for a 20-year-old hurler. Here are the low marks since 1901 (min 162 IP):

1.39 – Harry Krause (1909 Athletics)
1.53 – Dwight Gooden (1985 Mets)
1.65 – Walter Johnson (1908 Senators)
1.69 – Smokey Joe Wood (1910 Red Sox)
2.37 – Johnny Lush (1906 Athletics)
2.41 – Christy Mathewson (1901 Giants)
2.44 – Babe Ruth (1915 Red Sox)
2.48 – Fernando Valenzuela (1981 Dodgers)

The Marlins are cutting Fernandez off at 170 innings this year, so he’d seem to have three starts left at the most. That may hurt his chances in the competition with Yasiel Puig for Rookie of the Year honors.