Mets maintaining interest in reliever Jose Valverde

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Ken Davidoff of the New York Post has the goods:

The door remains “slightly ajar” for free agent Jose Valverde to join the Mets as their closer, an industry source told The Post.

As with the Mets’ pursuit of Michael Bourn, you bet against this actually happening. But this is considerably less complicated than the Bourn endeavor.

Less complicated because signing Valverde does not mean forfeiting a draft pick, and because the 34-year-old right-hander should come pretty cheap (on a one-year contract) after failing to attract any legitimate offers on the open market this winter.

Valverde registered a decent 3.78 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 35 saves across 69 innings last season for the American League-champion Tigers. He could serve as the Mets’ ninth-inning man while Frank Francisco recovers from lingering elbow problems. Which would mean Bobby Parnell remaining in a setup role.

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UPDATE, 3:44 PM: According to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, the Mets expect Valverde to sign a contract elsewhere but will “maybe consider him later” if he doesn’t wind up getting an offer.

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.