Pirates grab share of first place in National League Central

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Did you wake up feeling a little off today? Maybe your cup of coffee doesn’t taste quite the same as it usually does and you have the sudden and unprecedented impulse to go for an early morning jog? No worries, it’s perfectly explainable. You see, the Pirates are tied with the Cardinals for first place in the National League Central.

And isn’t it appropriate that Jeff Karstens was the one to get them there? He needed just 83 pitches to complete a five-hitter in a 3-0 victory over the Astros last night. That’s right, 83 pitches. According to our friends at Elias, it was the fewest pitches in a complete game this season and just the sixth time since 2002 that someone has thrown a complete game with 83 pitches or less.

Believe it or not, Karstens now ranks third in the National League with a 2.34 ERA over 107 2/3 innings. By the way, last year’s NL Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay is fifth. That’s some deal with the devil he has going on.

Now 48-43 on the year, this is the latest the Pirates have been in first place since July 17, 1997. You know, back when Pirates’ star center fielder Andrew McCutchen was 10 years old.

Padres sign Aaron Loup to a one-year deal

Aaron Loup
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Free agent lefty reliever Aaron Loup has been given a locker in the Padres’ clubhouse, AJ Cassavell of MLB.com reported Sunday. Per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, Loup received a one-year MLB deal with a club option for 2020. The Padres will shift right-hander Garrett Richards to the 60-day injured list to make room on the 40-man roster.

Loup, 31, began the 2018 season with the Blue Jays and was traded to the Phillies for minor league right-hander Jacob Waguespack at the midseason deadline. The veteran left-hander pitched just two innings in Philadelphia before hitting the injured list with a forearm strain and returned for a handful of appearances at the end of the year, bringing him up to a 4.54 ERA, 3.2 BB/9, 10.0 SO/9, and 0.3 fWAR across 39 2/3 combined innings.

Assuming health issues don’t complicate his next campaign in San Diego, Loup will be added to the bullpen alongside fellow left-handers Matt Strahm and José Castillo (with the possible late addition of southpaw reliever Brad Wieck, who underwent surgery for testicular cancer earlier this year). There are worse places to be — according to FanGraphs, the Padres’ ‘pen jumped from second-worst in 2017 to second-best in the league with a cumulative 3.53 ERA, 3.31 FIP, and 8.7 fWAR in 2018.