The Phillies trade Ben Francisco to Toronto

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The Blue Jays just announced that they have traded for outfielder Ben Francisco. To the Phillies: lefty Frank Gailey.

When last we heard of Francisco, he had just hit a three-run pinch-hit home run off Jaime Garcia in the top of the seventh inning of Game 3 of the NLDS. In more normal times we know of him as a fourth outfielder type with a .260/.332/.430 career line in over 1500 plate appearances scattered over five seasons. You might think of him as a platoon guy, but over his career he has hit lefties and righties at roughly the same clip.

Gailey is a minor league lefty who posted a 3.41 ERA and 61/21 K/BB ratio in 74 innings this year between Single-A and Double-A. He’s 26, so it’s not like he’s a comer, but he could be useful.

For the Phillies, this was mostly about roster flexibility, it seems. Francisco was arbitration eligible and there really wasn’t a place for him. Playoff heroics aside, Charlie Manuel seemed to sour on him some after his stint starting at the beginning of last year was less-than-stellar.

Gerrit Cole second-fastest to 200 strikeouts in a season

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Astros starter Gerrit Cole dominated the Athletics on Monday night, limiting them to one run on two hits and a walk while striking out 11. It marked his 12th start out of 22 this season with double-digit strikeouts, giving him 205 total on the season.

It is no surprise, then, to hear that Cole is the second-fastest in baseball history to reach 200 strikeouts in a season, per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. Cole got there in 133 1/3 innings. The only pitcher faster than Cole was Randy Johnson, who reached 200 K’s in 130 2/3 innings back in 2001 with the Diamondbacks.

Along with the 205 strikeouts, Cole holds an 11-5 record with a 3.03 ERA across 136 2/3 innings. Among qualified starters in the American League, only Charlie Morton (2.61), Mike Minor (2.86), José Berríos (2.96), and teammate Justin Verlander (2.99) have a better ERA than Cole, who has twice finished in the top-five in Cy Young Award voting.