Rangers vs Rays

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Injuries continue to plague the Texas Rangers, who have seen many players sent to the disabled list early in the season.

The latest player to be bitten by the injury bug was shortstop Jurickson Profar, who exited Monday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays in the second inning.

Profar collided with Rays center fielder Mallex Smith as Smith slid into second base. Profar is in the concussion protocol and will be re-evaluated on Tuesday.

Rangers medical staff tended to Profar before the shortstop left the field. He was replaced by Drew Robinson.

Texas has lost starters Delino DeShields, Rougned Odor, Elvis Andrus and Doug Fister to the DL with different injuries.There are 750 active major leaguers on any given day, and roughly 730 of them are relief pitchers. This year, more than seven relievers have appeared, on average, per game, which is a record pace. Relievers have thrown more than 42 percent of all innings, which also would be a record. It’s all but impossible to love and enjoy baseball in 2018 without loving and enjoying relievers.

This isn’t always easy. Roughly 96 percent of relievers fall under seven reliever types — the Brian Shouse, the B.J. Ryan, the Felix Rodriguez, the Chad Bradford, the Ron Villone, the Takashi Saito and the Sergio Santos — and they enter and exit with such assembly-line rapidity that it can be hard to notice or recall all but the few best of them. So then, consider this a public service: It’s a power rankings of Your New Favorite Reliever. The only rules are that they are relievers, they are lovable and they are unconventional enough to be surprised to read their own names in this article.There are guys who throw harder than A.J. Minter, whose hardest fastball as a big leaguer is a mere 98.3 mph. But there are few guys who throw more relentlessly hard than Minter, a 6-foot Atlanta Braves left-hander who has only two pitches: the aforementioned fastball and a slider that averages 91. So, for example, in the first outing of his career, his slowest pitch was 90.4 mph. In his most recent outing, his slowest pitch was 91.1 mph. More than 90 percent of his pitches as a big leaguer have started with a 9; the slowest one was 88.And he’s legit. Last August, with the Braves chasing third place, Minter got the call-up, and he was fire: 15 innings, 26 strikeouts, just two walks and a 3.00 ERA. He didn’t pitch nearly enough to get on any leaderboards, but if he had, his 0.96 FIP would have been the best in baseball, ahead even of [insert your previous favorite reliever here]. Only Craig Kimbrel struck out a higher percentage of batters; only six pitchers in all of baseball walked a lower percentage.I’m not sure how guys get a hit off of him,” his manager, Brian Snitker, said after Minter’s debut. And, as a twist, he’s been exactly backward this year: He hasn’t allowed a run in four appearances, but also hasn’t struck out a batter and he’s walked more (three) than he did last year. What a weird, mysterious phenomenon is A.J. Minter, your new favorite reliever.Yates, a Padre, a right-handed Padre, a short, thick right-handed Padre, is one of the most unhittable relievers in baseball. Since the start of 2017, he has struck out 38 percent of the batters he has faced, eighth highest in the game. He doesn’t throw all that hard — 93, 94 — but his fastball gets big tailing movement, and his splitter is a 50-percent-whiffs kind of pitch. He’s pretty good.
But, so, here’s the story: Nine years ago, he went undrafted out of college. That’s pretty rare. The Rays signed him, he spent six years in their system, then began his long bounce-around journey: purchased by Cleveland, purchased by the Yankees, selected off waivers by the Angels, selected off waivers by the Padres. That last one came less than a year ago, after Yates threw his one and only outing with the Angels, and the club decided immediately afterward to “fortify the bullpen” with Brooks Pounders. Yates was 30 years old and a one-look pitcher: A team took one look at him, and immediately took steps to fortify the bullpen. With Brooks Pounders.

A week after that DFA, Yates was a Padre — he got 11 swinging strikes in his second game with them — and a year later, he’s barely distinguishable from 26 other teams’ closers. Five appearances so far this year (before tendinitis in his ankle landed him on the 10-day DL Tuesday), two baserunners, no runs, five K’s. Someday, Brooks Pounders will probably be your favorite reliever, but today he’s the punchline in the story of Kirby Yates, your new favorite reliever.

Submariner, 33 years old, from Yaizu, Japan, but get this: His average fastball is 3.5 mph slower than Pedro Florimon’s. Pedro Florimon is a utility dude who had to pitch a mop-up inning for the Phillies last week.

Makita’s fastball has thus far averaged 80.8 mph. MLB’s Gameday application reliably calls it a changeup. He throws a curveball in the mid-50s. It doesn’t show up on radar guns. Look at the second pitch here:

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