First, the quote of the day from Mark Bradley of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution:
“Tim Hudson in the 162nd game. A team could do worse. For example: Derek Lowe in the 161st game …”
Yup. And we know this is true for reasons beyond the fact that Lowe, on general principles, sucks. We know that because the Braves were in the exact same position last year. They had a big lead — though a softer, earlier one — for a playoff spot in 2010. They blew it. Less of a collapse than it was Philly remembering that they were good and overtaking them, but they blew the lead regardless. They stumbled on offense down the stretch and then, on the final game of the season, they needed a win from Tim Hudson against a Philly team with nothing to play for in order to secure a playoff spot.
The result last year: an 8-7 win over Philly, with Tim Hudson picking up the win after giving up four runs in seven innings. As will likely be the case tonight, last year Charlie Manuel used the game to give multiple starters some work. Cole Hamels pitched two innings. Joe Blanton and Roy Oswalt each pitched an inning. There’s no Danys Baez around this year to blow it like he did last year, but Manuel will likely give multiple bullpen arms some work.
Like they say in the mutual fund ads, past performance is no guarantee of future results. But the fact is, the Braves have been here before.
The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.
Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.
While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.