Braves rookie Strider fans Atlanta record 16 in win over Rockies

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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ATLANTA – Rookie Spencer Strider set an Atlanta record with 16 strikeouts while allowing two hits in eight innings to lead the Braves to a 3-0 win over the Colorado Rockies on Thursday night.

Strider fanned his last two batters with two runners on base in the eighth – with his fastball still hitting 98 mph – to complete his masterful 106-pitch outing.

Austin Riley and rookie Michael Harris II hit solo home runs for Atlanta.

Strider threw only 42 pitches threw his first four innings, setting a pace that allowed him to log his longest career start. He did not walk a batter.

Hall of Famer John Smoltz held the previous Atlanta record with 15 strikeouts against the New York Mets on April 10, 2005 and against Montreal on May 24, 1992. The franchise moved to Atlanta in 1966; Hall of Famer Warren Spahn holds the overall Braves record with 18 strikeouts against the Chicago Cubs on June 14, 1952, when the team played in Boston.

Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his 31st save in 36 chances.

The Braves won two of three against Colorado and remained three games behind the NL East-leading New York Mets.

Strider (9-4) was dominant in extending the Rockies’ road woes. Colorado fell to 20-44 away from Coors Field, a .313 winning percentage that ranks last in the majors. The right-hander struck out the side in the second and seventh innings.

Strider set his previous high with 13 strikeouts in a 13-1 win over Philadelphia on Aug. 2.

Strider retired Colorado’s first 12 hitters before C.J. Cron lofted a soft single into right field to lead off the fifth. He didn’t allow another hit until Michael Toglia’s single to right with one out in the eighth.

Elias Diaz then reached when first baseman Matt Olson was charged with an error after missing shortstop Dansby Swanson‘s throw, leaving runners on first and third. Swanson struck out Elehuris Montero and then fanned Sean Bouchard – both of whom whiffed on sliders – to set the Atlanta record.

Rockies right-hander Chad Kuhl (6-8) allowed three runs on five hits, including two homers and one walk in 4 2/3 innings. Kuhl recorded his first four outs on strikeouts but left the game after giving up two runs in the fifth, including Dansby Swanson’s run-scoring single.

Making only his 30th career appearance and 17th start, Strider posted his fifth career game with at least 10 strikeouts. He has won his last three decisions and has shown no signs of fading late in the season. He began the year in Atlanta’s bullpen.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rockies: OF Yonathan Daza (shoulder) is beginning a rehab assignment with Triple-A Albuquerque. … RHP Chad Smith and IF Alan Trejo were recalled from Albuquerque.

Braves: 2B Ozzie Albies (broken left foot) had no hits in four at-bats as he began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett. … RHP Mike Soroka (right Achilles tendon) was reinstated from the injury list and optioned to Gwinnett, where he is scheduled to make his fourth rehab start on Friday. … IF Orlando Arcia (strained left hamstring) was activated from the IL after missing 20 games. … RHP Jesse Chavez, claimed off waivers from the Angels on Tuesday, was activated.

UP NEXT

Rockies: LHP Kyle Freeland (7-9, 4.88 ERA) is scheduled to face Reds RHP Luis Cessa (3-2, 5.36) in Friday night’s opener of a three-game series at Cincinnati.

Braves: RHP Charlie Morton (6-5 4.10) will look to improve his career 10-5 record and 4.08 ERA against Miami when he faces Marlins RHP Sandy Alcantara (12-6, 2.13). Alcantara is 4-1 with a 1.74 ERA in nine career starts against the Braves, including a 2-0 mark in five starts at Truist Park.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.