Chris Sale strikes out 14, but loses anyway

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White Sox starter struck out 14 Astros over eight innings tonight, but ended up a tough-luck loser as his team fell 2-1. Sale allowed the first run without allowing a hit (bookended by Alexei Ramirez errors) and the second on an infield single. The Astros managed just five hits (all singles) and a walk off Sale.

As usual, ESPN Stats & Info tweeted the relevant trivia:

Sale is the fifth pitcher since 2007 to strike out 14+ and lose, joining James Shields and Francisco Liriano last year, and teammates Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee in 2011.

Despite the loss, the 24-year-old Sale lowered his ERA to 2.43, following up a breakout campaign last year in which he finished sixth in AL Cy Young balloting.

Royals sign Drew Storen to minor league deal

Drew Storen
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The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.

Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.

While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.