Phillies

MLB Notes: Mets not worried about Noah Syndergaard's finger issues

MLB Notes: Mets not worried about Noah Syndergaard's finger issues

MIAMI -- New York Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard's exits from two recent starts because of finger issues aren't cause for concern, manager Terry Collins says.

Syndergaard left Friday's game at Miami after six innings due to two bleeding fingernails, and he left his first start of the season after six scoreless innings because of a blister.

"If it was the same thing, we'd have to look at it," Collins said Saturday. "But since it's two different things, I don't think it's anything to worry about. I think he'll be OK."

Despite the issues with his fingers, Syndergaard is 1-0 with a 0.95 ERA in three starts, with 20 strikeouts in 19 innings.

"He's one of the top pitchers in baseball right now," Collins said. "I give him a lot of credit. He's a tireless worker. He keeps himself in tremendous shape. He asks a lot of questions. He tries to refine pitches. And he commands his stuff."

Cashner activated from DL for first start with Rangers
SEATTLE -- The Texas Rangers have activated Andrew Cashner from the 10-day disabled list for his first start of the season against the Seattle Mariners and optioned right-hander Nick Martinez to Triple-A Round Rock.

The Rangers also activated Tanner Scheppers and assigned him to Round Rock on Saturday.

Cashner is making his first start for the Rangers after signing as a free agent this winter. Cashner missed most of spring training and the start of the season with soreness in his right bicep.

Last year, Cashner was 5-11 with a 5.25 ERA with San Diego and Miami.

Giants' Parker injured crashing into left-field wall
SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants left fielder Jarrett Parker left Saturday's game against the Colorado Rockies after appearing to injury a shoulder when he crashed into the wall on a running catch.

Parker's grab robbed D.J. LaMahieu of an extra-base hit with two outs in the fourth inning.

After the collision, Parker sprinted toward the infield, stopped and dropped to his knees on the outfield grass. He grimaced, was examined by trainers and was replaced by Aaron Hill.

Reds' starter Finnegan leaves after 1 inning with strain
CINCINNATI -- Reds left-hander Brandon Finnegan left after only one inning on Saturday because of a strained muscle in the back of his left side.

Finnegan walked three, threw a wild pitch and allowed a pair of runs by the Brewers. He threw only 10 strikes out of 24 pitches and was replaced by Robert Stephenson in the second inning.

Finnegan's injury further depletes Cincinnati's rotation. Homer Bailey and Anthony DeSclafani opened the season on the disabled list and aren't close to returning from elbow problems. Rookie Davis is on the disabled list with a bruised right forearm.

Another strong start, another clutch hit, another home win for Phillies

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Another strong start, another clutch hit, another home win for Phillies

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Knock on wood, spill some salt over your shoulder, enact whichever good-luck superstition you have. Because right now, everything is going right for the Phillies' starting rotation.

Through three starts, Ben Lively had experienced the worst results of the group, but he pitched very well Friday night and is showing some interesting signs in his second big-league season.

Lively allowed just one run to the Pirates over six innings, lowering the Phillies rotation's ERA to 2.67 since April 1. In just 19 games this season, the Phils have allowed one or no runs seven times already. Last season, it took 41 games just for them to do it once.

The Phils needed every bit of that run prevention in Friday's 2-1 win. Lively, Adam Morgan, Luis Garcia and Hector Neris shut the Pirates down, and Odubel Herrera tripled in Cesar Hernandez in the bottom of the eighth to untie the game and make the Phillies 12-7. 

They could have given Neris more breathing room, but with runners on the corners and one out in the eighth, both Rhys Hoskins and Herrera were caught stealing on the same play.

Lively has 21 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings, a big surprise given his lack of whiffs in the minors and his rate of 5.3 strikeouts per nine in the majors last season.

As for the rest of the rotation:

• Aaron Nola, who owns the lowest hard-hit contact rate in all of baseball (17.7 percent) looks like one of the best dozen starting pitchers in either league. He also seems poised to reach an even higher level in his fourth season.

• Jake Arrieta showed Cy Young stuff Thursday against the Pirates (see story), and through three starts he's 2-0 with a 2.04 ERA and .180 opponents' batting average. That early-season concern over his lack of swings and misses? Arrieta generated 14 swinging strikes against the Bucs with 10 just against his sinker — the most against his sinker in 56 starts.

• Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez, the two wild cards entering the season, have combined for a 1.98 ERA and 0.88 WHIP with 38 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings the last three cycles through the rotation.

"Wild card" is the operative term, because if that duo continues to pitch like this, the Phils will have a legit shot at one.

The strikeouts, the weak contact ... we're not dealing with smoke and mirrors here. We're seeing what happens when aces like Arrieta and Nola meet expectations and young guys like Pivetta and Velasquez execute with more consistency. If Lively can just give the Phils quality starts, look out.

And aside from Arrieta, the rest of the Phillies' rotation will earn just under $2.25 million this season combined. That may be the most important number of all.

Jake Arrieta looks like a $75 million man in domination of Pirates

Jake Arrieta looks like a $75 million man in domination of Pirates

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Jorge Alfaro looked and sounded like a kid who had just visited an amusement park for the first time. Wide eyes. Big smile. Let’s-do-it-again amazement in his voice.

“That was fun,” he said. “Just put a finger down and he hit the glove.”

Alfaro, the Phillies’ 24-year-old rookie catcher, was on the receiving end of a vintage Jake Arrieta performance Thursday night. In his third start with the Phillies, Arrieta, the 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner, dominated the Pittsburgh Pirates, the NL’s highest-scoring team coming in, with seven innings of one-hit, 10-strikeout ball to lead the Phillies to a 7-0 win at wintery Citizens Bank Park (see first take).

Arrieta’s fastball had sink, tail, run, whatever you want to call that Greg Madduxian downward, left-to-right darting action that makes it so tough to hit when it moves like that. He got 11 swing and misses on the pitch, 14 in all. In his previous outing Saturday at Tampa Bay, he struck out just one in 6 2/3 innings and got only four swing and misses.

Arrieta’s improvement might be as simple as this: He signed with the Phillies (for three years and $75 million) just five weeks ago. Though he’s made three starts with the Phillies, he’s really just finishing his spring training.

“I’m caught up now,” he said. “Other than being able to locate the changeup a little better, this was about as good as I’ve been.

“I knew I was going to be pretty crisp today in the bullpen when I had my sinker, glove side, going early. My timing was pretty much right where it needs to be. When I’m on time, when I get my foot down and I’m able to drive the ball downhill to my glove side, I know it’s going to be a pretty good day. Three starts in, to be able to do that as well as I did tonight is a good sign.”

Manager Gabe Kapler loved Arrieta’s sinker.

“It was moving all over the place,” he said. “Very impressive outing for him and a big emotional lift for our team.”

Arrieta came out in attack mode, striking out the first two batters of the game on fastballs that registered 94 and 93 mph, respectively. He kept on attacking after the Phils lit up Jameson Taillon for five runs in the second inning. Rhys Hoskins homered and Cesar Hernandez cleared the bases with a three-run single. Trailing runner J.P. Crawford got a great jump from first on a 3-2 pitch and followed third base coach Dusty Wathan’s wave home.

Kapler said it took “big stones,” on Wathan’s part to send Crawford and that the dugout was “fired up” after Hernandez cleared the bases.

With the way Arrieta was dealing, it was game over after that.

“Any time I get a multiple-run lead, I’m going to be aggressive,” he said.

The Phillies are 11-7 thanks largely to their starting pitchers. They’ve recorded a 2.40 ERA in their last nine starts. At home, the Phils are 6-1 and have outscored opposing clubs by 35 runs. There are nine more games to play on this homestand. It's off to a good start.