Jon Heyman reports that the Rangers and reliever Jake Diekman have avoided arbitration in the lefty’s first year of eligibility, agreeing on a one-year, $1.255 million contract for the 2016 season. Diekman had filed for $1.55 million while the Rangers countered at $975,000. As some amount of math will show, Diekman settled for slightly under the midpoint between the two submitted figures.
The Rangers acquired Diekman along with ace starter Cole Hamels from the Phillies in a blockbuster trade at the non-waiver trade deadline last season for five minor leaguers and starter Matt Harrison. The 29-year-old finished with an aggregate 4.01 ERA, 69 strikeouts, and 31 walks across 58 1/3 innings. He struggled with the Phillies and turned things around with the Rangers, however. In Texas, he posted a 2.08 ERA with 20 strikeouts and seven walks in 21 2/3 innings.
Diekman features a blazing fastball, clocking in at 96.5 MPH on average, tied with former teammate Ken Giles as the 11th-fastest average fastball last season. He’ll figure to be an important piece in the Rangers’ bullpen for the next few seasons.
The Yankees defeated the Astros 4-1 during Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night, staving off a potential postseason elimination and forcing the series to at least six games.
In just the third playoff appearance of his career, Yankees southpaw James Paxton turned in another impressive performance, limiting the Astros to four hits and four walks over six innings of one-run ball. According to MLB Stats, his nine strikeouts made him the second Yankees lefty to record multiple starts of 8+ strikeouts in the same postseason campaign, two decades after David Wells did so for the 1998 championship-winning club.
Paxton’s strong outing was backed by a handful of runs from DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, both of whom went deep against Astros ace Justin Verlander in the bottom of the first inning. LeMahieu’s leadoff solo shot marked his first postseason home run since Game 1 of the ALDS, while Hicks’ three-run 347-footer was his first home run of any variety since July 24 (and his first in the playoffs since the 2017 ALDS).
Neither team managed a single run after the first inning, leaving the two pitching staffs to duke it out for eight quick innings. Verlander outlasted Paxton — taking the game through the seventh with five hits, four runs, and nine strikeouts — but even with a flawless contribution from Brad Peacock in the eighth, there was little the hurlers could do to help the Astros solve Paxton and an airtight Yankees bullpen.
With the win, the Yankees will try to push the series to a full seven games in order to snatch the AL pennant from the Astros. They’ll have to do in Houston, however, as the Astros will regain home field advantage when Game 6 kicks off on Saturday at 8:08 PM EDT. Neither starter has been announced yet; per Houston skipper A.J. Hinch, it will likely be a bullpen day.