The Dodgers‘ losing streak extended to five games after dropping a 3-2 result to the Astros today. It was another rough outing for the struggling Los Angeles bullpen, as Kenley Jansen blew a save by allowing Houston to tie the game in the ninth, and Chris Hatcher picked up the loss after giving up a 10th-inning walkoff homer to Jason Castro. Entering Sunday, Dodgers relievers had combined for a 6.00 ERA since the All-Star break, the second-worst bullpen ERA of any club in the second half. Here’s some more from around the NL West…
- Rafael Betancourt was designated for assignment by the Rockies earlier today, and the veteran reliever told reporters (including MLB.com’s Thomas Harding) that he’s at peace with the fact that his 12-year career could be over. He isn’t too optimistic about another team picking him up, saying “I don’t see any team that’s a contender right now that is looking to” acquire a struggling 40-year-old. Betancourt may be a little hard on himself; several ERA indicators (3.32 FIP, 4.27 xFIP and 3.67 SIERA) show that he’s pitching much better than his 6.18 ERA would imply, and his velocity, strikeouts and walk rates are around his career averages. Betancourt has been hurt by a .328 BABIP and a stunningly low 52.6% strand rate over his 39 1/3 innings of work.
- The Dodgers declined to claim Will Venable on trade waivers, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. Los Angeles is rather deep with outfield options but, as Morosi notes, the Dodgers could’ve used Venable in center with Joc Pederson struggling. The Dodgers were hardly alone in passing on Venable, who went through waivers and then garnered interest from several teams. The Padres dealt Venable to the Rangers last week.
- The Diamondbacks are eager to make an impact in Japan both marketing-wise and in terms of player acquisitions, team president Derrick Hall told Jason Coskrey of the Japan Times. “For us, we’ve always looked to be identified with someone in Japan. We’re still hoping to find that talent one day,” Hall said. “It’s a dream of mine personally to have a Japanese player in a D’Back uniform, as well as a Mexican-born player who can have an impact. Because I’ve seen what a difference that makes having grown up and cut my own teeth in the Dodgers organization all those years. Of course I was around during the time of Nomo-san and Nomomania and that was electric.”
- Hall, Tony La Russa, Randy Johnson and Luis Gonzalez recently traveled to Japan on a goodwill tour on the Diamondbacks’ behalf, and while they weren’t specifically there to scout players, they did see Kenta Maeda and Shohei Otani pitch in NPB action. Arizona was one of several teams linked to Maeda last offseason before the righty decided to re-sign with the Hiroshima Carp. Maeda could be posted this winter, while Otani is just 21 and it’ll be at least a few seasons before the Nippon Ham Fighters consider making him available to North American teams. Hall said the D’Backs are “going to be aggressive” on signing talent they believe in, though given the large fees involved in signing top-flight Japanese talent, “it makes it more difficult for teams like us in smaller markets. When we write that big a check, we cannot miss. We’ve gotta be right.”