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Pirates minor leaguer Tyler Eppler heads to Japan

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Robert Murray of The Athletic reports that the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s Pacific League have purchased the contract of right-hander Tyler Eppler from the Pirates.

Eppler, 26, was a sixth round draft pick of the Pirates back in 2014. He just completed his second season of Triple-A ball, going 13-6 with a 3.59 ERA but with a relatively low strikeout rate that, in this day and age, is the difference between being a big leaguer and becoming the mayor of Indianapolis (or whatever Triple-A town is applicable). He was left off the Pirates’ 40-man roster and went unselected in the Rule 5 draft, so it would seem that no other big league team considers him big league material either.

That’s not great for Eppler, but having the chance to go to play in Japan, where pitchers with his stuff are a bit more valued, is not a bad fallback. He’ll likely make more money there than he would even if he somehow got a callup here. And, hey, it’s always better to be appreciated, right?

Zack Wheeler hits first career homer

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Mets starter Zack Wheeler wasn’t content with just dominating the Phillies on the mound Tuesday night in Queens. The 28-year-old decided to have himself a three-RBI night at the plate, too, including his first career home run.

With the Mets already leading 3-0 with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, Wheeler lifted a first-pitch Zach Eflin fastball out to left-center field, landing well beyond the 370-foot sign on the wall. Wheeler had previously helped his own cause, lacing a two-run double down the right field line off of Eflin in the second inning.

Wheeler entered the night with 22 hits in 194 career trips to the plate. Of his 22 hits, five went for extra bases (all doubles). On the mound, through six innings, Wheeler has held the Phillies scoreless on five hits with no walks and 11 strikeouts.

Todd Frazier broke the game open in the fifth inning, hitting a grand slam off of Drew Anderson to push the Mets’ lead to 8-0. If the Phillies lose tonight, they will have lost five of their last six games.