Hong-Chih Kuo returns to DL with psychological issue

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Dodgers setup man Hong-Chih Kuo, who had struggled since returning from a back strain on May 1, was placed back on the disabled list with what Los Angeles Times writer Dylan Hernandez has been told is a physcological issue.

Hernandez says Kuo is experiencing a recurrance of the yips, which first struck back in 2009.

Kuo was supposed to be the fallback for the Dodgers in the closer’s role if Jonathan Broxton failed to turn it around this year, but he had an 11.57 ERA in 4 2/3 innings over nine appearances.

In his last outing Monday, he allowed doubles to the only two hitters he faced before being pulled.

With his velocity down, Kuo showed no signs of being ready to occupy a key role in the Dodger pen. As a result, Vicente Padilla has taken over as the team’s closer in place of the injured Broxton.

Replacing Kuo will be another talented lefty with control issues in Scott Elbert. The former first-round pick had a 5.02 ERA and a 16/9 K/BB ratio in 14 1/3 innings for Triple-A Albuquerque.

Noah Syndergaard: ‘I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency’

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Yankees starter Luis Severino and Phillies starter Aaron Nola both signed contract extensions within the last week. Severino agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with a 2023 club option. Nola inked a four-year, $45 million deal with a 2023 club option.

While the deals both represented significant raises and longer-term financial security for the right-handed duo, some feel like the players are selling themselves short. It has become a more common practice for players to agree to these types of deals in part due to how stagnant free agency has become. Get the money while you can.

Mets starter Noah Syndergaard is in a similar situation as Severino and Nola were. He and the Mets avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $6 million salary for the 2019 season. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility left. A contract extension with the Mets would presumably cover both of those years plus two or three years of what would be free agent years. As Tim Britton of The Athletic reports, however, Syndergaard plans to test free agency when the time comes.

Syndergaard said, “I trust my ability and the talent that I have. So I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency and not do what they did. But if it’s fair for both sides and they approach me on it, then maybe we can talk.” He clarified that he would be open to a conversation about an extension, but the Mets thus far haven’t approached him about it. In his words, “There’s been no traction.”

Syndergaard, 26, has been one of baseball’s better starters since debuting in 2015. He owns a career 2.93 ERA with 573 strikeouts and 116 walks in 518 1/3 innings. Among pitchers to have logged at least 400 innings since 2015 and post a lower ERA are Clayton Kershaw (2.22), Jacob deGrom (2.66) and Max Scherzer (2.71). Syndergaard made only seven starts in 2017 yet still ranks seventh among pitchers in total strikeouts since 2015.

If Sydergaard doesn’t end up signing an extension, he will be entering free agency after the 2021 season. The collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021 and a new one will likely be agreed upon around that time. Syndergaard will hopefully have better prospects entering free agency then than players do now.