Dodgers strip Jonathan Broxton of closer's role

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Believing his hulking right-hander has lost his confidence, manager Joe Torre today removed Jonathan Broxton for the closer’s role and replaced him with left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo.
He added that Octavio Dotel would be used if a save chance materializes Friday, only because Kuo has pitched on back-to-back days.
Broxton gave up four runs in taking a blown save and a loss Thursday against the Phillies. He’s blown three saves since the All-Star break, taking losses in each of those games. He also suffered a fourth loss after entering a tie game. He has a 10.13 ERA and a 5/11 K/BB ratio in eight innings since saving the All-Star Game for the NL. He finished the first half with a 2.11 ERA and a 55/7 K/BB ratio in 38 1/3 innings.
The switch may seem like a bit of a panic move, but if it means that Broxton starts getting regular work again, it would definitely be for the best. With the Dodgers slumping, he’s made just eight appearances in the month since the All-Star Game. Including his All-Star appearance on July 13, he’s made his last nine appearances on the following days rest:
3, 4, 1, 3, 2, 3, 2, 3, 4
Compare that to the much more fragile Kuo. He’s made 12 appearances since July 17, coming on the following days rest:
2, 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3, 0, 2, 0
Kuo isn’t being used as a specialist, either: he’s pitched 12 2/3 innings in those dozen appearances.
So, this just might work out. Broxton can pitch every other day or more frequently until he runs off a few strong outings, and Kuo might get a bit of a break while being reserved for the ninth. That’s probably not the reasoning behind it, but it could help the Dodgers in the long run.

Noah Syndergaard on Mets extending Jacob deGrom: ‘Pay the man already.’

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March has marked contract extension season across Major League Baseball. Just in the last week, we have seen Justin Verlander, Chris Sale, Brandon Lowe, Alex Bregman, Ryan Pressly, Mike Trout, Eloy Jiménez, Blake Snell, and Paul Goldschmidt sign extensions. Nolan Arenado, Luis Severino, and Aaron Nola also notably signed extensions during the offseason.

One name strikingly absent from that list: Mets ace Jacob deGrom. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is coming off of a season in which he posted a 1.70 ERA with 269 strikeouts and 46 walks across 217 innings. It’s the lowest ERA by a qualified starter since Zack Greinke‘s 1.66 in 2015. Prior to Greinke, no pitcher had posted an ERA of 1.70 or lower since Greg Maddux in 1994-95 (1.56, 1.63).

deGrom is earning $17 million this season and will enter his fourth and final year of arbitration eligibility going into the 2020 season. He will turn 31 years old in June, but is an obvious extension candidate for the Mets, who have built arguably their most competitive team since 2015, when the club lost the World Series in five games to the Royals. Thus far, though, the Mets and deGrom haven’t been able to get anywhere in extension talks.

deGrom’s rotation mate Noah Syndergaard is watching. Per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, Syndergaard said, “I think Jake’s the best pitcher in baseball right now. I think he deserves whatever amount he’s worth. I want them to keep him happy so when it does come time for him to reach free agency, he stays on our side pitching for the Mets. I just think they should quit all the fuss and pay the man already.”

Syndergaard added that the recent extension trend around baseball — and deGrom’s lack of an extension to date — sends a message. He said, “I think so, yes, because of what you see in what’s going on in baseball right now. If there wasn’t a trend of other guys getting contract extensions, then I don’t know what the circumstance would be. But you see Chris Sale, Verlander getting extensions. I think it’s time Jacob gets one too.”

Part of the equation behind the recent rash of extensions is the stagnation of free agency. Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel — two of baseball’s better pitchers — have gone through almost an entire spring training without being signed. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado didn’t find new homes until late February. Free agents in their 30’s are largely being underpaid or otherwise forgotten about. Extensions represent financial security for young and old players alike. Syndergaard himself can become a free agent after the 2021 season, so if deGrom’s prospects improve, then so too will his, at least without knowing the details of the next collective bargaining agreement which will be put into place ahead of the 2022 season.