The Chicago Cubs have declined the team’s 2017 option on right-handed pitcher Jason Hammel, who spent the past two seasons as a member of the club and was the team’s fifth starter during the 2016 regular season.
Acquired midway through the 2014 season from the Oakland Athletics, Hammel won 33 games in his two and a half seasons in Chicago. In 78 starts, he has posted a 3.59 ERA, the lowest mark for any single team of his career.
Hammel was on the hook for $10 million next season as a 34-year-old. An 11-year big league veteran, he has won 84 career games, having played for five different organizations. Selected in the 10th-round of the 2002 MLB Draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays out of Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, Canada, the 6-6 right-hander has gone on to throw more than 1,500 career major league innings.
This past season was arguably the best of his career, winning a career-high 15 games while posting a 15-10 mark with a 3.83 ERA. He received a fair share of help from the Cubs’ defense behind him as his 4.48 FIP was the largest discrepancy of his career.
Cubs’ president of baseball operations, Theo Epstein, released a statement on Sunday, saying, “We would not have been in a position to win the World Series without Jason’s terrific performance during the regular season. […] We wish the Hammel’s nothing but the absolute best going forward.”
The Cubs will have a number of internal options to fill the No. 5 starter spot including left-hander Mike Montgomery, who recorded the historic final out of Game 7 in the 2016 World Series.
The post Cubs officially decline Jason Hammel’s 2017 club option appeared first on Todays Knuckleball.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have claimed outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker off waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Hazelbaker made his MLB debut this past season by making the Cardinals’ Opening Day roster.
After a torrentially hot start to his lone MLB season in which he clubbed five home runs and posted a 1.040 OPS in 71 plate appearances, the 28-year-old rookie substantially cooled off for the remaining five months, reaching a .250 batting average mark in any given month only once more. He finished the season hitting .235/.295/.480 with 12 home runs and 28 RBI with 64 strikeouts in 200 at-bats.
A free agent signee by the Cardinals in May 2015, Hazelbaker had never played in the major leagues prior to making the team’s Opening Day roster in 2016. Taken in the fourth round by the Boston Red Sox in the 2009 MLB Draft out of Ball State, Hazelbaker was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2013.
Over the past two seasons, he has shown there is little left for him to accomplish in the minor leagues, hitting .333 and .325 in his last two stints at Triple-A Memphis, the Cardinals’ minor league affiliate. But despite his minor league efficiency, his numbers with St. Louis this season mirrored more his 2014 stint with the Dodgers’ Triple-A team where he hit .222 with a .239 on-base percentage.
He’ll now join a crowded outfield in Arizona with the hope of making his second consecutive Opening Day roster. After injuries cost both David Peralta and A.J. Pollock the majority of the 2016 season, Arizona expects both to be back, as well as the slugging Yasmany Tomas and resurgent Brandon Drury.
The post D-backs claim Jeremy Hazelbaker off waivers appeared first on Todays Knuckleball.
The Philadelphia Phillies have acquired right-handed pitcher Pat Neshek from the Houston Astros in exchange for a player to be named later. Neshek owns a $6.5 million team option for the 2017 season that the Phillies have announced they will pick up.
After being elected to his first career All-Star Game in 2014 as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals, Neshek signed a two-year, $12.5 million deal with the Houston Astros, where he has spent the past two seasons. He made at least 60 appearances each season, finishing his tenure with the club with a 5-8 mark and a 3.36 ERA in 101.2 innings pitched.
The Phillies will become the sixth different franchise Neshek has appeared with in his what will be his 11th MLB season. The majority of his work came as a member of the Minnesota Twins from 2006-2010, but injuries derailed his tenure with the club that drafted him in the sixth round of the 2002 MLB Draft out of Butler.
Having started only one game in his professional career, the 36-year-old and his unique, side-arm delivery have carved out a decade-long career. After a one-year stint with the San Diego Padres and then two with the Oakland Athletics that allowed him to rejuvenate his career, he had a career-season as a member of the Cardinals’ bullpen in 2014, posting a 1.87 ERA in 71 appearances, including six saves. (He would make his first All-Star team, but would be tagged as the losing pitcher–in Minnesota.)
He joins a Philadelphia bullpen who saw Jeanmar Gomez close the majority of games last season, just to finish the year with a 4.85 ERA. The Phillies finished 71-91 last season as they attempt to complete a franchise re-build.
The post Phillies acquire Pat Neshek from Houston appeared first on Todays Knuckleball.
You may have heard: it’s been 108 years since the Chicago Cubs won the World Series prior to Wednesday night (or Thursday morning in Cleveland). After falling behind 3-1 in their series against the Cleveland Indians (who are now bearers of the longest drought in baseball, at 68 years and counting), it looked as if the Cubs were destined for another season of the inevitable, “When will they win the big one?” question.
Goats, 1984, and Bartman be damned, these lovable Cubbies named Bryant, Rizzo, Zobrist, and Schwarber, are finally set to party like it’s 1908, as they have delivered the franchise it’s first World Series title since…well, you’ll see.
In case you’re unfamiliar with just how long 108 years truly is, we compiled a set of coherent, explainable tweets to put into context just how historic what occurred on Wednesday night truly was:
The post The last time the Cubs won the World Series… appeared first on Todays Knuckleball.
Chicago Cubs left fielder Ben Zobrist has won the 2016 World Series MVP after going 10-for-28 (.357) in the epic seven-game set over the Cleveland Indians. He will go down in Cubs lore, as well as MLB history, for his dramatic 10th-inning double in Game 7 that put Chicago ahead for good, snapping the franchise’s 108-year drought without winning a World Series Championship.
But while the Cubs have been in a drought, it marks the second consecutive season in which Zobrist’s year has ended in a shower of champagne. Acquired by the Kansas City Royals for their playoff push in 2015, he won his first World Series title with the Royals, before inking a four-year contract with the Cubs this off-season.
Zobrist got off to a slow start in the 2016 postseason and went just 6-for-36 through the first two rounds. He only drove in two runs in the seven-game series, but the second will go down as arguably the most important in Cubs franchise history. Beyond the offensive statistics, he gave the Cubs the lead in Game 6 after railroading Indians catcher Roberto Perez on a play at home plate. Needing to win both games on the road at Progressive Field, the momentum firmly shifted in their favor in Game 6 following that play.
During the regular season, Zobrist played 119 games as the team’s second baseman. Adept at playing a multitude of positions, he shifted to left field during the postseason as second baseman Javier Baez caught fire. No matter his position, or team, Ben Zobrist is once again a World Champion.
The post Ben Zobrist wins 2016 World Series MVP appeared first on Todays Knuckleball.
For the first time in 108 years, the Chicago Cubs are World Series Champions. Coming back from a 3-1 series deficit, the Cubs knocked off the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 by a final score of 8-7 to become the Champions of the baseball world for 2016.
In what will go down in history as one of the most dramatic baseball games ever played, the Cubs saw a 6-3 lead with four outs separating them from the World Series evaporate with closer Aroldis Chapman on the hill. But after an agonizing rain delay prior to the start of the first extra-innings Game 7 of the World Series since 1997, second baseman Ben Zobrist delivered the biggest hit of his career when he laced a go-ahead RBI double down the left-field line to put the Cubs ahead for good.
The offense got into the action from the start, as centerfielder Dexter Fowler became the first player in World Series history to hit a lead-off home run in a Game 7. He would finish the game 3-for-5, setting the table for the heart of the Cubs order that would see a three-hit night from designated hitter Kyle Schwarber, a two-run night for third baseman Kris Bryant and an RBI double from first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who would finish the series batting .360.
On the mound for Chicago to start Game 7 was MLB’s ERA leader in RHP Kyle Hendricks. Manager Joe Maddon had a short leash for his starter, turning the game over to LHP Jon Lester after just 4.2 innings of one-run baseball. Lester would pitch three innings of relief, turning the game over to Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman, who would give up a game-tying, two-run home run to Cleveland’s Rajai Davis in the bottom of the eighth inning that knotted the game at six a piece.
Catcher David Ross became the oldest player (39 years old) to hit a home run in World Series history when he homered off Indians LHP Andrew Miller in the sixth inning, effectively icing the Cubs’ victory
Cleveland starter Corey Kluber went 4+ innings, allowing four earned runs, including two solo home runs to Fowler and second baseman Javier Baez. For the first time in his 145 Major League appearances, Kluber would not record a strikeout.
The post Cubs win 2016 World Series appeared first on Todays Knuckleball.
New York Mets’ outfielder Tim Tebow was removed from the Scottsdale Scorpions’ game on Monday afternoon due to injury after an awkward slide into second base. He had just picked up his first hit of the day and was replaced in left field by Aaron Brown.
With the hit he collected, Tebow moved his batting average up to .147 (5-for-34) in the 10 games he has appeared in with the Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League. However, despite the overall numbers not offering much inspiration, he is now officially on a hitting streak, having picked up a base hit for the third day in a row and the fifth time in his last six games. He is still waiting the elusive first Arizona Fall League home run as he has just one double and one RBI thus far.
The buzz that surrounds Tebow seems to have subsided somewhat after the initial hysteria of his signing wore off. For now, he is a 6-3 255-pound, 29-year-old outfielder, who is scuffling in a league designed for some of the game’s brightest young stars. Not surprisingly, he has not dominated the game of baseball much in the same fashion he did college football for his four seasons on campus at the University of Florida.
Signed to a minor-league deal by the Mets back on Sep. 8, Tebow remains the longest of long-shots to ever reach the major league level. If both he and the Mets decide to stick with the experiment past the Arizona Fall League, Tebow will begin the year in the minor leagues, attempting to hang onto the last remains threads of his baseball dreams.
The post Mets’ Tim Tebow exits Arizona Fall League game with injury appeared first on Todays Knuckleball.
The Chicago Cubs staved off elimination by winning Game 5 of the 2016 World Series in the final game of the season at Wrigley Field, 3-2. On the back of a three-run fourth inning that began with a solo home run from Kris Bryant, the Cubs rode starter Jon Lester for the front six innings, as closer Aroldis Chapman got the last eight outs of the game to send the series back to Cleveland for Game 6.
LHP Jon Lester lost Game 1 of the series, but rebounded in what will be his final start of 2016, going six innings and allowing two earned runs while striking out five and earning the win. Lester had pitched two previous elimination games, both of which his team had lost, with Sunday night giving him his first win of his career with the season on the line.
With their season on the line, Cubs manager Joe Maddon handed the ball to his fireballing closer Aroldis Chapman to get the final eight outs of the game. He allowed just one hit and struck out four batters over the final 2.2 innings, saving his fourth game of the postseason on 42 pitches and salvaging the Cubs’ season for at least another night.
Entering Game 5, third baseman Kris Bryant had just one hit the entire series. But on a flat fastball from Indians starter Trevor Bauer, he would put the Cubs on the board and tie the game at one with a line drive home run into the left-centerfield bleachers. The run sparked a three-run mini-rally that saw an RBI hit from Addison Russell and a sacrifice fly from David Ross.
The series now heads back to Cleveland for Game 6 on Tuesday night when the Cubs send 2015 NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta to the hill against the Indians’ Josh Tomlin, as the Tribe once again have a chance to clinch their first World Series Championship in 68 years.
The post Chicago Cubs win Game 5, extend World Series appeared first on Todays Knuckleball.
The Cleveland Indians have taken a commanding 3-1 series lead in the 2016 World Series over the Chicago Cubs with a 7-2 victory on Saturday night that moved the team within one win of their first World Series crown in 68 years.
After falling behind in the first inning on an Anthony Rizzo RBI single, the Tribe rattled off seven runs in a row. First baseman Carlos Santana led off the top of the second inning with a line drive solo home run, and the team took the lead for good later that inning when pitcher Corey Kluber tapped an infield single that allowed right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall to come around to score. Second baseman Jason Kipnis put the icing on the cake in the top of the seventh inning with his three-run home run off Cubs LHP Travis Wood.
The game’s winning pitcher was RHP Corey Kluber, who started the game on three days rest after tossing six scoreless innings in Game 1 of the Series. This time around, he went six innings, allowing just the first inning run and striking out six. In his first five career postseason starts, he has gone 4-1 with a 0.75 ERA and has set himself at the heart of a case for being named the Series MVP should Cleveland win one of the next three possible games.
With the Cubs needing to win the series in seven games, Kluber will be waiting in a potential Game 7 at home on three days rest once again. Game 5 will take place on Sunday night at Wrigley Field when the Cubs put their season on the left arm of Jon Lester, while Cleveland goes to Trevor Bauer, looking to secure their first World Series title since 1948.
The post Cleveland Indians win Game 4 of World Series, lead series 3-1 appeared first on Todays Knuckleball.