Dodgers to move Kenta Maeda, Ross Stripling to bullpen

Kenta Maeda
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Right-handers Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling are shifting to the bullpen for the time being, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced Sunday. The announcement follows news that closer Kenley Jansen is expected to be sidelined through August 20, if not longer, as he monitors an irregular heartbeat. Jansen is just one of half-a-dozen relievers to hit the disabled list over the last two months, making Sunday’s move a necessary one as starting pitchers Alex Wood and Hyun-Jin Ryu prepare to retake the mound in the next week or so.

Stripling, 28, should be available to pitch out of the bullpen by Tuesday evening. The righty has seen impressive results in his first All-Star season with the team; he posted an 8-3 record in 17 starts and delivered a combined 2.62 ERA, 1.4 BB/9 and 9.9 SO/9 through 110 innings out of the rotation and bullpen. Per Roberts’ comments, he’s likely to return to the rotation before the season ends, provided they can bolster the ‘pen with help from other potential starters-turned-relievers like Julio Urias.

Maeda, on the other hand, appears to be headed for a full-time role in relief. The 30-year-old right-hander has had limited exposure in the bullpen this season, pitching to a 7-7 record in 20 starts with a solid 3.80 ERA, 3.3 BB/9 and 10.7 SO/9 in 109 innings out of the rotation and ‘pen. Still, the decision to convert him to a relief pitcher isn’t a sign of demotion, only a necessary and creative restructuring of a rotation that currently ranks 11th-best in the majors. Maeda will likely be available to pitch by Wednesday’s series finale against the Giants.

Wednesday’s game will also feature southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu, who appears ready to resume his role in the rotation after rehabbing a groin strain over the last three months. Prior to his stint on the disabled list, Ryu turned in a 3-0 record in six starts with a sharp 2.12 ERA, 3.0 BB/9 and 10.9 SO/9 across 29 2/3 innings. He’ll go toe-to-toe with Giants left-hander Derek Holland as the Dodgers close out their homestand.

Yankees star Judge hits 62nd homer to break Maris’ AL record

New York Yankees v Texas Rangers - Game Two
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ARLINGTON, Texas – Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run of the season Tuesday night, breaking Roger Maris’ American League record and setting what some fans consider baseball’s “clean” standard.

The 30-year-old Yankees slugger drove a 1-1 slider from Texas right-hander Jesus Tinoco into the first couple of rows of seats in left field when leading off the second game of New York’s day-night doubleheader.

Maris’ 61 for the Yankees in 1961 had been exceeded six times previously, but all were tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year. Barry Bonds hit an MLB-record 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001, and the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris as holder of the legitimate record.

A Ruthian figure with a smile as outsized as his body, the 6-foot-7 Judge has rocked the major leagues with a series of deep drives that hearken to the sepia tone movie reels of his legendary pinstriped predecessors.

“He should be revered for being the actual single-season home run champ,” Roger Maris Jr. said Wednesday night after his father’s mark was matched by Judge. “I think baseball needs to look at the records and I think baseball should do something.”

Judge had homered only once in the past 13 games, and that was when he hit No. 61 last Wednesday in Toronto. The doubleheader nightcap in Texas was his 55th game in row played since Aug. 5.

After a single in five at-bats in the first game Tuesday, Judge was 3 for 17 with five walks and a hit by pitch since moving past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league record for 34 years. Maris hit his 61st off Boston’s Tracy Stallard at old Yankee Stadium on Oct. 1, 1961.

Judge has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012. He leads the AL with 131 RBIs and began the day trailing Minnesota’s Luis Arraez, who was hitting .315.

The home run in his first at-bat put him back to .311, where he had started the day before dropping a point in the opener.

Judge’s accomplishment will cause endless debate.

“To me, the holder of the record for home runs in a season is Roger Maris,” author George Will said earlier this month. “There’s no hint of suspicion that we’re seeing better baseball than better chemistry in the case of Judge. He’s clean. He’s not doing something that forces other players to jeopardize their health.”