Craig Kimbrel first in history to fan half his batters faced

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Braves closer Craig Kimbrel struck out three out of the four Pirates he faced Wednesday to become the first pitcher in major league history to fan at least half of the batters he faced.

Kimbrel racked up 116 strikeouts while facing 231 batters. That’s more than four strikeouts for each of the 27 hits he allowed. He struck out more than eight times as many batters as he walked (14), which is perhaps the most stunning stat of all for those of us who saw him as a prospect a few years back. He walked fewer batters in 62 2/3 innings this year than he did in 20 2/3 innings (16) following his arrival to the majors in 2010.

The record Kimbrel set today barely even requires a minimum-inning requirement. Not only is Kimbrel the first to do it in minimum 50 or 60 innings, but he’d be the first to do it with a minimum of six innings. Francisco Rodriguez struck out 13 of the 21 batters he faced after joining the Angels in Sept. 2002. He pitched 5 2/3 innings that month before becoming a postseason hero. No one else has done it over as few as three innings.

Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.

Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.

Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.

The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.