Mike Napoli homers again as Rangers win eighth straight game

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Mike Napoli homered in his fifth straight game this afternoon as the Rangers routed the Tigers 10-4 in the first game of a day-night doubleheader. The Rangers have now won eight consecutive games and sit at a major-league best 12-2 on the young season.

The Rangers took the Tigers out of this one pretty early, as they knocked right-hander Rick Porcello around for eight runs in the top of the first inning. This included a three-run homer by Josh Hamilton, who went 2-for-5 on the afternoon and is hitting an AL-best .424 (25-for-59) on the year. Porcello was eventually chased from the ballgame after giving up three straight hits to begin the top of the second. He gave up eight earned runs in all, tying a career-high, while the outing was the shortest of his career.

Napoli connected for a solo shot off Daniel Schlereth in the top of the ninth and suddenly Kevin Mench’s franchise record of homers in seven consecutive games is in reach. Most of you know Mench for having an unusually large head, but I know him better as the son of my high school principal. Anyway, Dale Long, Don Mattingly and Ken Griffey, Jr. are tied for the all-time record with homers in eight consecutive games.

Matt Harrison allowed three runs over 7 2/3 innings in the victory and improved to 3-0 with a 1.66 ERA and 13/4 K/BB ratio over his first three starts. The Rangers will look for their ninth straight win when Neftali Feliz takes on Justin Verlander in the nightcap. Now that’s a fun matchup.

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.