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Baseball Daily Dose

Kluber Flirts with Greatness

by Bill Baer
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Indians starter Corey Kluber flirted with a no-hitter on Wednesday night against the Cardinals, losing it with two outs in the seventh inning on a Jhonny Peralta single. It still finished as one of the best starts in quite some time. Over eight innings, he allowed just the one hit with no walks and – you’re going to want to sit down for this – 18 strikeouts. He’s the first to punch out 18 batters in a game since Ben Sheets in 2004.


Kluber could have taken the mound in the ninth inning for a shot at tying or exceeding Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout game from May 1998. However, he was at 113 pitches, so closer Cody Allen came on to start the ninth inning to protect a 2-0 lead. He easily cut through the 9-1-2 section of the Cardinals’ lineup to grab the save and help Kluber earn his first win of the season.


Kluber, the defending AL Cy Young Award winner, entered the start 0-5 with a 5.04 ERA and a 46/11 K/BB ratio in 44 2/3 innings. The results were certainly shocking to see, though the underlying stats showed he has essentially been the same pitcher he was last year, just with worse fortune on balls put in play. If there was any thought that Kluber’s 2014 showing was a fluke, Wednesday’s start certainly put that issue to rest.


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Angels Extend Huston Street

On Wednesday, the Angels agreed to a two-year, $18 million contract extension with closer Huston Street. The deal also includes a $10 million club option for the 2018 season. Street, earning $7 million this season, could have become a free agent after the season. He had compiled a 3.29 ERA with a 15/5 K/BB ratio while converting 11 of 13 saves entering Wednesday’s action.


The 31-year-old right-hander has been among the game’s best closers since 2012. Among relievers with at least 125 innings pitched since the start of the 2012 season, only Craig Kimbrel (1.54 ERA), Koji Uehara (1.76), Greg Holland (1.84), Aroldis Chapman (1.93), and Darren O’Day (1.98) have posted a better ERA than Street’s 2.08. He has compiled a 165/44 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings during that span of time.


Relievers are notoriously volatile, so even a short-term deal like the one the Angels signed with Street carries some risk. That risk is amplified considering he missed time on the disabled list in both 2012 and ’13 due to a calf injury, and battled groin and hamstring injuries last year. But if one has to place a bet on any one reliever, Street makes a rather short list.


No Smiles for Smyly

The Rays confirmed on Wednesday that lefty starter Drew Smyly has a torn labrum and will likely need season-ending surgery, Andrew Astleford of FOX Sports Florida reports. He will seek a second opinion from Dr. Keith Meister in Texas, then will decide whether to down the rehab path or elect for surgery. Smyly started the season on the disabled list and was activated to make his season debut on April 24. He made three starts before being shelved again with more shoulder issues.


This is a big loss for the second-place Rays, who acquired Smyly in the three-way trade involving David Price at the trade deadline last season. As manager Kevin Cash put it, it’s a “devastating blow”. When healthy, Smyly can be elite, as he finished the 2014 season with a 3.24 ERA and a 133/42 K/BB ratio in 153 innings. He allowed only five runs on 10 hits and three walks while striking out 21 in 16 2/3 innings to begin this season.


Smyly is one of more than a handful of injured Rays pitchers. He’s joined on the 60-day disabled list by Alex Cobb, Matt Moore, Jeff Beliveau, and Burch Smith. As a result of the turmoil, the Rays currently have Matt Andriese and Alex Colome at the back of the rotation. Erasmo Ramirez could get some starts down the road as well. None of the three pitchers have had any good results thus far, owning respective ERA’s of 5.40, 5.63, and 8.38.


Hunter Pence’s Impending Return

Giants outfielder Hunter Pence could rejoin the Giants from the disabled list any day now, but will continue to travel with Triple-A Sacramento, Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports. Pence suffered a fractured forearm towards the end of spring training after he was hit by a pitch.


The Giants have mostly been relying on Justin Maxwell to fill in for Pence in right field. The 31-year-old has done a decent job, batting .250/.309/.409 with three home runs and 15 RBI in 98 plate appearances.  Getting Pence, a three-time All-Star, back will be a big boost for the second-place Giants, however. He played in every game in each of the 2013 and ’14 seasons and last year hit .277/.332/.445 with 20 home runs, 74 RBI, and 13 stolen bases.


As Pence’s activation is a day-to-day issue, it’s recommended that fantasy owners make a routine daily check on his status.


Paredes on Fire

Orioles DH Jimmy Paredes extended his hitting streak to 12 games in Wednesday’s win against the Blue Jays, going 2-for-4 with a walk and an RBI. In 91 plate appearances, the 26-year-old is batting .364/.391/.659 with five home runs and 18 RBI. Paredes’ surge has left the struggling Steve Pearce (.532 OPS) on the bench.


Paredes didn’t have much major league success between the Astros and the Royals before joining the Orioles. In the minor leagues, he didn’t show much plate discipline while providing mostly gap power. This season, he has already matched his previous career total in home runs with five. It would be shocking to see him finish with a batting average anywhere close to his current .364 mark, but he has at least thus far he can be a productive bat.


Paredes could also prove valuable to the Orioles with his versatility. Most of his playing time came at third base and second base in the minors, but he has experience playing shortstop as well as right and center field.


National League Quick Hits: Matt Harvey tossed seven scoreless innings in a no-decision against the Cubs on Wednesday … Michael Taylor, who entered the game in place of the ejected Bryce Harper, hit a go-ahead grand slam to help the Nationals beat the D’Backs on Wednesday … Braves utilityman Kelly Johnson left Wednesday’s game against the Reds with a strained right oblique … Dee Gordon is now hitting .426 after a four-hit performance in Wednesday’s win over the Dodgers … With a save against the Pirates on Wednesday, Jonathan Papelbon became the Phillies’ all-time saves leader with 113 … Matt Holliday left Wednesday’s loss to the Indians with an elbow contusion after he was hit by a pitch … Jason Hammel tossed eight strong innings of one-run ball opposite Matt Harvey in Wednesday’s win … Andrew McCutchen knocked in the Pirates’ only two runs in a loss to the Phillies on Wednesday … Todd Frazier tied Bryce Harper for the NL lead with his 12th home run in a victory over the Braves on Wednesday … The Brewers activated reliever Jim Henderson from the disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Colorado Springs … Joc Pederson hit his 10th home run in a loss to the Marlins on Wednesday … The Giants signed pitcher Tommy Hanson to a minor league contract on Wednesday … Padres starter Josh Johnson (elbow, triceps) has resumed a throwing program … Diamondbacks closer Addison Reed blew Wednesday’s save in allowing a grand slam to Michael Taylor, but manager Chip Hale plans to stick with Reed for the time being … Rockies starter Jordan Lyles left Wednesday’s start against the Angels when he was hit in the right hand by a comebacker.


American League Quick Hits: Masahiro Tanaka (forearm, wrist) will throw a bullpen on Friday … The Rays claimed reliever Preston Guilmet off waivers from the Blue Jays and optioned him to Triple-A Durham … Aaron Sanchez walked four more batters in Wednesday’s loss to the Orioles, increasing his league-leading total to 29 … Orioles infielder Everth Cabrera (foot) will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Norfolk on Friday… The Red Sox will place starter Justin Masterson on the disabled list due to “arm fatigue” … The Royals activated reliever Kelvin Herrera on Wednesday after serving a six-game suspension for his involvement in two separate incidents with the Athletics and the White Sox … Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez left Wednesday’s loss to the Twins with lower back tightness … Torii Hunter hit his sixth home run of the season to help the Twins beat the Tigers on Wednesday… Jose Quintana struck out 10 batters while pitching one-run ball over seven innings in Wednesday’s win versus the Brewers … Indians utilityman Mike Aviles is on the family medical emergency list as his daughter is being treated for leukemia … Astros lefty Brett Oberholtzer left Wednesday’s start against the Giants due to a blister on his pitching hand … Angels pitching prospect Andrew Heaney tied a season-high with nine strikeouts in a win for Triple-A Salt Lake on Tuesday … The Mariners signed RHP Logan Kensing to a minor league contract on Wednesday … The Rangers designated RHP Stolmy Pimentel for assignment on Wednesday … Athletics first baseman Ike Davis (quad) isn’t expected to be available until the weekend.

Bill Baer
Bill Baer writes for HardballTalk and Rotoworld and covers the Phillies at his site Crashburn Alley. You can follow him on Twitter @Baer_Bill.