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Chris Sale strikes out 17 batters in seven innings against Rockies

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It’s safe to say Chris Sale has figured things out. Despite six shutout innings on May 3 against the White Sox, Sale exited the start with a 5.25 ERA on the season. Not exactly the best start. Sale continued to pitch well last Wednesday against the Orioles, striking out 14 batters without issuing a walk across eight innings of one-run ball.

That’s a tough act to follow, but Sale had the game of his life on Tuesday at home against the Rockies. He yielded two runs — both coming on a Nolan Arenado homer — on three hits while issuing zero walks and striking out 17 batters. That obliterates Sale’s previous single-game high of 15 strikeouts, accomplished three times, twice as a member of the White Sox. Sale is the first pitcher to strike out at least 17 batters in a game since Max Scherzer tied the record with 20 strikeouts against the Tigers on May 11, 2016. The last member of the Red Sox to strike out at least 17 in one game was Pedro Martínez on May 6, 2000 against the Devil Rays.

Sale stood at 108 pitches after completing the seventh inning. Understandably, manager Alex Cora didn’t allow his ace to take the mound for the eighth inning with his team leading 3-2. Brandon Workman, who hadn’t allowed a hit in his last 11 appearances, took over for Sale. Chris Iannetta doubled off of Workman with one out to end that streak. [Update: And Workman then served up a two-run home run to Charlie Blackmon, giving the Rockies a 4-3 lead. Sale is no longer in line for the win in his 17-strikeout game.]

After Tuesday night’s performance, Sale now has a 4.24 ERA with a 73/11 K/BB ratio in 51 innings on the season.

Reds sign Nicholas Castellanos to a four-year deal

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The Cincinnati Reds have signed outfielder Nicholas Castellanos to a four-year deal worth $64 million. The contract includes opt-outs after both 2020 and 2021, which is certainly good for Castellanos, allowing him to go back out on the market if he has a big year. Odd that the Reds would agree to that, but on an annual basis it’s kind of a bargain for them so you figure that has something to do with it.

With Castellanos in the fold the Reds are going to have a lot of outfielders when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton already on the roster. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps taking over short from Freddy Galvis, who could be dealt. Alternatively, the Reds could trade from their newfound outfield surplus.

Castellanos, however, will have left field to himself. While he’s shaky at best with the glove, he had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power.

Now that he’ll be playing in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.