Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta was brilliant Thursday against the Orioles, striking out 11 in seven innings before leaving with a 4-1 lead. The Phillies went on to win 4-1, too, but not before manager Gabe Kapler used four similarly talented right-handed relievers to finish it off.
Here’s how it went:
Tommy Hunter: 1/3 IP, allowed two hits
Luis Garcia: 2/3 IP, allowed one walk
Edubray Ramos: 2/3 IP, struck out both batters he faced
Hector Neris: 1/3 IP, game-ending groundout
The move in the eighth made some sense, given that Hunter had allowed two of the three batters he faced to reach. Still, why take Garcia out after two outs afterwards if you’re not going to go to your closer? And why remove Ramos after two strikeouts in a three-run game. Not that we like it when managers manage to their players’ statistics, but that switch cost Ramos what would have been his second career save, and it didn’t earn one for Neris, since he would have needed to pitch the full inning (or enter with men on base) to pick up the save in a three-run game.
So, Kapler used four relievers even though the Phillies are due to play eight straight days. Maybe it was what he wanted to do going in; the Phillies had Monday off and were rained out Tuesday, so the guys hadn’t pitched in a while. Still, one imagines they’ll all be busy this weekend with four games against the Cardinals beginning tomorrow.
The Atlanta Braves selected high school pitcher Carter Stewart with the number eight overall pick in the 2018 draft. Then, after the draft, they gave Stewart a below-slot signing bonus offer, claiming that they found problems with his wrist in his post-draft physical. Stewart ended up rejecting the offer and the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Braves on Stewart’s behalf.
The grievance sought to make Stewart a free agent it was considered a long shot at the time of its filing and, in fact, the grievance was rejected. Stewart, unable to attain free agency, enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school that would’ve made him eligible for the 2019 draft.
Now, Ken Rosenthal reports, Stewart has pulled a crazy Ivan and is heading to Japan, having signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but Rosenthal says Stewart was looking for a $7 million guarantee.
It’s a fascinating turn of events for Stewart who, this time last year, was considered perhaps the best amateur pitcher in baseball. Being lowballed and having his health questioned by the Braves may have been a wakeup call to Stewart, however, about his chances of finding a quick path the bigs in the U.S. If the shine did come off of his prospect status in the past year here, there’s every reason to believe that $7 million and a path to the bigs in Japan is a much better deal than several million less and a path to the bigs in America.
He’ll be worth watching over the next few years, that’s for sure. Both for his own sake and to see if, in this era of Major League Baseball’s capping of amateur bonuses and teams’ habit of manipulating service time, going overseas becomes more attractive to American high schoolers and college players.