After addressing a need for their rotation by adding veteran right-hander John Lackey on a reported two-year, $32 million contract, the Cubs have apparently turned their attention to upgrading the back-end of their bullpen.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Cubs are “actively exploring” a trade for one of the one top closers. No specifics on who they are targeting, but a bunch of closers are reportedly available via trade right now, including Aroldis Chapman of the Reds, Ken Giles of the Phillies, Jake McGee and Brad Boxberger of the Rays, and Andrew Miller of the Yankees. The Nationals have also made Jonathan Papelbon and Drew Storen available.
The Cubs already have a pretty good closer in Hector Rondon, who had a 1.67 ERA and 69/15 K/BB ratio in 70 innings this past season. However, the prospect of using him in a set-up role in front of someone like Chapman (again, just speculation) is obviously really enticing.
With his Astros trailing the Tigers 2-1, catcher Robinson Chirinos began his at-bat in the bottom of the ninth a triple shy of the cycle. He doubled in the second inning, singled in the fourth, and hit a solo homer in the seventh. Yordan Álvarez and Yuli Gurriel both struck out, leaving the Astros’ fate in the hands of Chirinos against Joe Jiménez. After working the count to 2-1, Chirinos slapped an 85 MPH slider to the gap in right-center field. A diving Travis Demeritte could not come up with the ball, but center fielder Harold Castro fired the ball back in to Gordon Beckham, who then made a perfect throw to Dawel Lugo at third base. Chirinos was tagged out for the final out of the game. No triple, no cycle. The Astros lost 2-1.
Chirinos was attempting to become the first Astro to hit for the cycle since Brandon Barnes on July 19, 2013 against the Mariners.
The Astros entered Wednesday’s game as the largest favorite in 15 seasons, according to ESPN’s David Purdum. The Astros were -500 per Caesars Sportsbook. Other sportsbooks had them at -550. So the Tigers’ win was quite the upset.
Justin Verlander went the distance in the loss. The only blemishes on his line were solo homers to Ronny Rodríguez in the fifth and John Hicks in the ninth. They were the only hits he allowed while walking none and striking out 11.