Yesterday I made a joke that the name “Odrisamer Despaigne” sounded more like an obscure Belgian ale. Well, it does. But it seems that the name attaches to a pretty good pitcher too. Last night Despaigne tossed seven shutout innings and allowed four hits in beating the Giants. And he wasn’t even supposed to be there yesterday. He got the start because Andrew Cashner went on the DL.
Not that we should necessarily expect that. The Cuban defector wasn’t exactly sought after like Yoenis Cespedes or Arolids Chapman. The Padres got him on a minor league deal back in early May and spent six weeks in the minors, going 1-3 with a 6.03 ERA between Double- and Triple-A. He’s not overpowering — he works in the low 90s — but he flashed some pretty impressive speed-changes and arm slots last night, throwing four pitches, some in the 60s.
Junk ballers may not be as impressive as fireballers, and Despaigne may have a lot of bumps ahead of him based on his minor league track record, but it was fun to see the highlights of this one this morning.
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.