Sean Doolittle debuts, strikes out three in an inning and a third

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Yesterday we noted the improbable rise to the bigs by one Sean Doolittle, the very recently converted slugger who now strikes out guys by the bucketful as a relief pitcher.  He made his major league debut last night for the A’s. And he was good.

Doolittle pitched an inning and a third. He threw 21 pitches. All 21 of them were fastballs. He faced four guys, striking out three of them. Doolittle:

“It was really surreal. Still kind of sinking in to be honest,” Doolittle said. “I was so focused on controlling my breathing and trying to calm myself down that it didn’t really let me get too worked up about the situation I was coming into or the guys that I was going to face.”

The guys he faced:

  • Nelson Cruz, with a runner on third. Doolitle struck him out after going down 2-0 to him;
  • Mike Napoli, who he struck out;
  • Yorvit Torreabla, who he struck out; and
  • Craig Gentry, who lined out.

Doolittle’s fastballs averaged 94.35 m.p.h. and he topped out at 96.2.  As far as debuts go, I think this one qualifies as pretty frickin’ keen.

Report: Angels to sign Cody Allen

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Angels and reliever Cody Allen are in agreement on a one-year contract, pending a physical. The value of the contract is not yet known.

Allen, 30, was looking for an opportunity to close and the Angels can certainly provide that. He will likely be the favorite to break camp as the closer. 2018 was the roughest year of his career, however, as he finished with a 4.70 ERA, 27 saves, and a 80/33 K/BB ratio in 67 innings. Among Allen’s six full seasons, his 27.7 strikeout rate and 11.4 percent walk rate represented career-worsts. FanGraphs also shows him losing nearly a full MPH on his average fastball velocity.

The Angels lost closer Keynan Middleton to Tommy John surgery early last season and he likely won’t return until the second half of the 2019 season. Blake Parker, who handled save situations in Middleton’s place, was non-tendered by the Angels in November and ended up signing with the Twins. The closer’s role is Allen’s to lose, it seems.