Bob Welch, 1990 Cy Young Award winner, dies at 57

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Some sad news: former Dodgers and Athletics pitcher Bob Welch died today. He was 57-years-old. No cause of death has yet been reported.

Welch debuted for the Dodgers in 1978. He made national fame when he struck out Reggie Jackson with two on and two out in the top of the ninth inning to end Game 2 of the 1978 World Series, giving the Dodgers a two games to zero lead. Welch was just 21 at the time and Jackson was a year removed from his three-homer performance against the Dodgers in the 1977 Series. It was a big deal.

If Welch had done nothing else in his career he’d probably still be remembered for that. But of course he did much. He won 211 games over 17 seasons, starting 462 of his 506 games. He was a reliable and often very good rotation starter for some very good Dodgers teams. He moved upstate to Oakland for the 1988 season and on through the rest of his career, which ended when the 1994-95 strike began.

His best season is one everyone remembers: 1990, when he went 27-6 for the AL Champion Athletics, winning the Cy Young Award. It stands as the most wins since Steve Carlton won 27 in 1972. The last time anyone won more was when Denny McLain won 31 in 1968. No pitcher has won as many as 25 since Welch did it in 1990. Welch ended his career with a record of 211-146 and an ERA of 3.47. He struck out 1,969 batters and walked 1,034 in 3,092 innings. He had 28 shutouts and 61 career complete games.

Welch wrote a book after he retired about his battles with alcoholism during his career and was always frank about how it nearly derailed that career in the 1980s. He was the pitching coach for the Arizona State Sun Devils and then, for one year, coached the pitchers for the Diamondbacks when they won the World Series in 2001. He remained in Arizona in various coaching, scouting and advising capacities over the past several years.

RIP Bob.

There was another miscommunication between the Phillies and Pat Neshek

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Back in June 2017, then-manager of the Phillies Pete Mackanin and reliever Pat Neshek had some miscommunication. In a series against the Cardinals, Neshek worked a five-pitch eighth inning and it was believed he would come back out for the ninth inning, but he never did. Mackanin said Neshek said he didn’t want to pitch another inning. Neshek said he was never asked. There was also some miscommunication the game prior. Neshek thought he had the day off; Mackanin said Neshek said he wasn’t available to pitch.

Mackanin is no longer the Phillies’ manager, but the miscommunication between Neshek and the team apparently persist. Neshek was notably absent during the Phillies’ hard-fought 5-4 win over the Cubs on Monday night. The game featured a struggling Seranthony Domínguez pitching two innings, yielding three crucial runs in his second inning of work.

Manager Gabe Kapler called the bullpen and instructed Neshek to begin warming up to prepare to face Albert Almora, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Kapler rang the bullpen after Domínguez walked Jason Heyward, who batted ahead of Almora. Neshek wasn’t warmed up yet. Domínguez was able to retire Almora on a sacrifice bunt, which was reviewed and gave Neshek some extra time to get ready. He was ready for the next batter, Daniel Descalso, but at this point Kapler no longer wanted to bring Neshek into the game. Descalso lined a triple to left-center field, scoring two runs and came home himself when shortstop Jean Segura‘s throw caromed off of his foot out of play.

Recounting the situation, Neshek said, “I got on the mound and threw two pitches. [Kapler] said, ‘Is he ready?’ And I said, ‘No. I’m not ready yet. I’ve thrown two pitches.” Neshek was asked how long it takes him to get ready. The veteran said, “A minute. Not 20 seconds. I’m, like, the best in the league at getting ready. My whole career has been coming in like that.”

The Phillies were able to eke out a 5-4 win. Had they lost the game, Kapler and Neshek would likely have been under the microscope for the awkward situation leading to a crushing defeat. Kapler drew plenty of criticism over his bullpen management last year in his rookie managerial season. That included bringing in lefty reliever Hoby Milner into a game in which he hadn’t yet warmed up.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the manager who struggled with bullpen management last year nearly mucked up a win last night, and maybe it’s just a coincidence that a reliever who’s had prior issues with communication had another communication mix-up. Maybe it’s not. It’s worth noting that the Phillies needed three innings from the bullpen to protect a 2-1 lead over the Cubs on Tuesday. Kapler called on rookie Edgar Garcia for two outs, lefty José Álvarez for four, and then brought in Juan Nicasio to close things out in the ninth. No Neshek, even as Nicasio got into trouble. Nicasio would surrender the tying and go-ahead runs, resulting in a deflating 3-2 loss.