Getty Images

Diamondbacks sign reliever Yoshihisa Hirano

1 Comment

The Arizona Diamondbacks have signed rigthanded Japanese reliever Yoshihisa Hirano. It’s a two-year, $6 million deal.

Hirano, 33, pitched for the Orix Buffaloes for the 11 season, with an ERA of 3.10 and a K/BB ratio of 884/228 over 974.2 innings pitched. He came up as a starter but has been used exclusively in relief since 2010, closing for the Buffaloes since 2013.

Hirano will likely be a setup man for the Dbacks, as Archie Bradley is likely going to move into the closing role with the departure of Fernando Rodney. There has, however, been some discussion of the Snakes stretching Bradley out and returning him to starting duties, which is what he did before 2017. Either way — as closer or as Bradley’s setup man — Hirano will give the Dbacks a lot of flexibility and will be filling a key role in their pen in 2018.

Astros clinch AL West for third consecutive year

Bob Levey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

For the third consecutive season, the Astros are AL West champions. The ‘stros clinched the division on Sunday afternoon with a convincing 13-5 win over the Angels. They were backed by three homers from leadoff man George Springer and individual homers from Alex Bregman and Aledmys Díaz.

Springer has the 22nd three-homer game in baseball this season. He’s the first Astro to hit three homers in a game since Yordan Álvarez last month, on August 10.

Justin Verlander lasted five innings in Sunday’s start, yielding two runs on six hits and a pair of walks with five strikeouts. The right-hander is arguably the frontrunner for the AL Cy Young Award, now 20-6 with a 2.53 ERA and a 288/42 K/BB ratio in 217 innings on the year. Verlander is 12 strikeouts shy of the 300-strikeout milestone and six strikeouts short of 3,000 for his career. If the Astros stay on schedule, Verlander would pitch the second-to-last game of the regular season against the Angels.

Sunday’s win marked No. 102 on the season for the Astros. The franchise record is 103 wins set last year. With six games remaining, it seems likely the Astros will set a new record.

The Astros and Yankees both won on Sunday, meaning the Astros remain a half-game ahead in the race for home field advantage. The No. 1 seed will also have the privilege of playing the Wild Card winner, which is down to the Athletics, Rays, and Indians.