It only took him 14 starts, but Cliff Lee is finally on the board. He pitched eight innings of two-run ball as the Phillies defeated the Mets 9-2 on Wednesday.
The Phillies were actually down for much of the game, failing to get on the board until the seventh. Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz hit back-to-back homers off Chris Young in that frame, giving Philadelphia a 3-2 lead. The Phillies then piled on against the beleaguered Mets bullpen, scoring three more runs in both the eighth and ninth innings.
The barrage lifted the Mets’ bullpen ERA to 5.11 on the season. MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo pointed out that it’s more than one-third of a run worse than that of the next worst bullpen.
Utley’s two-run homer was his second since he returned from the disabled list last week. He’s 6-for-22 in five starts and one appearance off the bench.
Lee ended up 0-5 with a 4.13 ERA over 13 starts in his long winless streak. His only other winless streak in excess of six starts came in 2004, when he went 0-6 with a 10.51 ERA in a nine-start span for the Indians.
The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.
Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.
Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.