Rick Porcello tossed his second straight shutout Tuesday and has a 25 1/3-inning scoreless streak. Jake Arrieta flirted with a no-hitter for the second straight start Monday. However, there’s another hurler in the midst of a breakout season who has been just as good (or better) lately.
Garrett Richards walked the first two batters of the game versus the White Sox Tuesday and then allowed a one-out, three-run homer to Jose Abreu. The rest of the game? 7 2/3 innings, one hit, one hit batter, zero runs, eight strikeouts.
While his ERA might have gone up a smidge Tuesday (from 2.76 to 2.81), it was another stellar performance for the Angels right-hander. Richards has been on quite a run since the beginning of June, putting up a 1.49 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 44/13 K/BB ratio across 42 1/3 innings. He hasn’t yielded more than four hits in any of his six outings during the stretch.
Of course, it hasn’t just been in June that Richards has performed. He had an up-and-down May, but the 26-year-old kicked off the year with a 2.53 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 31 strikeouts over 32 frames in April. Overall, he boasts a 1.07 WHIP and 108/40 K/BB ratio over 109 innings to go along with the aforementioned 2.81 ERA.
With one of the fastest fastballs in the game and an often-devastating slider, it was puzzling to see Richards post a pedestrian 6.1 K/9 ratio over his first three big league seasons. He’s obviously upped that this year (8.9 K/9), though, and he certainly possesses the arsenal to maintain a high strikeout rate. As long as he can keep his walks at a digestible level, Richards’ breakout should continue.
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Astros Promote Santana
Former Astros general manager Ed Wade was fired over the winter following the 2011 season, but not before he left the club with a nice little parting gift at the trade deadline.
Wade shipped Hunter Pence to the Phillies on July 29 of that year, receiving in return prospects Jon Singleton, Jarred Cosart, Josh Zeid and Domingo Santana. Singleton was considered one of the best first base prospects in the game before being recalled last month. Cosart holds a 3.19 ERA over his first 27 major league starts. Zeid has been up-and-down with the big club over the last two seasons as a middle reliever. On Tuesday, Santana became the fourth and final prospect in the deal to reach the majors.
Santana earned the promotion after hitting a nifty .304/.383/.502 with 13 home runs and 52 RBI over 84 games with Triple-A Oklahoma City. The line becomes even more impressive when you consider that the 21-year-old was nearly six years younger than the average age of his fellow Pacific Coast Leaguers.
Santana has his issues with strikeouts, as he put up a 40/99 K/BB ratio over 84 games for Oklahoma City and has whiffed a whopping 714 times across 568 contests during his minor league career. He also struck out three times during a hitless major league debut Tuesday. However, Santana has also launched 61 dingers over his last 315 games in the minors. The average probably won’t be there, but the youngster could be of help in deeper leagues for those in need of some punch. He should play every day in left field for the ‘Stros.
Cliff Lee (elbow) threw a 60-pitch simulated game on Tuesday. As long as he wakes up with no soreness Wednesday, he’ll be cleared to begin a rehab assignment with High-A Clearwater on Sunday. Lee told MLB.com that he’ll need “a couple rehab assignments” before returning, which would put him in line to be back immediately after the All-Star break. The Phillies, however, have not ruled out Lee returning after just one rehab start.
Joe Mauer exited Tuesday’s game against the Royals after four innings with a right oblique strain. He told MLB.com that he’s been “battling this area for about a week or so or maybe a little more” but was hopeful of avoiding the disabled list. The Twins will re-evaluate the first baseman on Wednesday before making a decision.
Angel Pagan (back) will visit back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins in Los Angeles on Wednesday after experiencing a setback. The outfielder is dealing with a bulging disk in his lower back that’s pinching his sciatica nerve and causing pain down his leg. Pagan doesn’t think surgery will be necessary, but more about his status will be known after Wednesday’s exam.
Mark Trumbo (foot) is about 10-14 days away from rejoining the Diamondbacks. The slugger began a rehab assignment as the designated hitter with the Diamondbacks' Arizona League team on Tuesday and could join Triple-A Reno's roster next week. Assuming he has no setbacks, Trumbo seems likely to be activated immediately after the All-Star break.
National League Quick Hits: Tim Lincecum spun eight shutout innings in Tuesday's win over the Cardinals in his first start since last week’s no-hitter ... Andrew Cashner (shoulder) will begin playing catch on Wednesday ... Hanley Ramirez (calf) was absent from the Dodgers' lineup again Tuesday but is expected back soon ... Everth Cabrera was scratched from Tuesday's lineup with a strained left hamstring and could be headed to the disabled list ... Carlos Ruiz (concussion) has yet to experience improvement since being placed on the disabled list last week ... Brandon Belt (thumb) is still a little sore but is hoping to be activated on Friday ... Carl Crawford (ankle) is on track to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Albuquerque this weekend ... Tommy La Stella left Tuesday's game against the Mets with a bruised right foot but is expected to play Wednesday ... Kolten Wong (shoulder) homered and doubled in his first rehab game Tuesday ... Chris Owings has been diagnosed with a bruised left shoulder after tests came back clean ... Khris Davis exited Tuesday’s game with a left shoulder strain but is considered day-to-day ... Francisco Liriano (oblique) is scheduled to throw a simulated game on Wednesday and could skip a rehab assignment ...
American League Quick Hits: Rick Porcello spun his second straight shutout Tuesday, needing only 95 pitches to dispose of the powerful A’s offense ... Steve Pearce launched a solo homer – his third over the last two nights – in Tuesday’s win over the Rangers ... Dexter Fowler (intercostal) was placed on the DL ... Jose Bautista homered Tuesday in his return to the Blue Jays' starting lineup Tuesday ... Derek Norris (back) took batting practice Tuesday and is expected back in the lineup Wednesday ... Shane Victorino (back) could resume his rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket next week ... Victor Martinez (ribs) missed a second straight game Tuesday ... Yoenis Cespedes (hamstring) didn’t play Tuesday after exiting Monday’s game ... Joe Smith recorded a save in both games of Tuesday’s doubleheader sweep over the White Sox ... Eric Hosmer went 4-for-4 in the Royals' loss to the Twins on Tuesday ... Kevin Gausman could be recalled to start on Sunday in Boston ... The Orioles designated Nolan Reimold for assignment ... Royals manager Ned Yost said Tuesday that he doesn't expect Norichika Aoki (groin) to return before the end of the team's road trip on July 9 ... Drew Hutchison struck out 10 while tossing seven innings of one-run ball in a win over the Brewers Tuesday ... The Rangers designated Joe Saunders for assignment ... Yunel Escobar (shoulder) was placed on the DL ...