Glew's Canuck big league look: Albers, Paxton, Saunders, Therrien, Votto
Canadians in the Majors – September 11
By Kevin Glew
This is my weekly rundown of how Canadians are faring in the major leagues:
Jim Adduci, Burnaby, B.C., Detroit Tigers
Adduci enjoyed three separate big league stints with the Detroit Tigers in 2017, but he spent the last portion of his season with the triple-A Toledo Mud Hens after he was sent down August 12. He was not called up by the major league club in September. In 29 contests with the Tigers this season, the Burnaby, B.C., native went 20-for-83 (.241 batting average) and he finished with a .323 on-base percentage (OBP).
Andrew Albers, North Battleford, Sask., Seattle Mariners
Albers is fast becoming one of the best Canadian baseball stories of the year. After allowing just one hit and one run in six innings in his start on September 3, the Canadian southpaw spun six scoreless innings against the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday to pick up his fourth win for the Mariners. He's now 4-1 with a 2.67 ERA and has 20 strikeouts in 27 innings in five starts with the Mariners. The Mariners acquired Albers from the Atlanta Braves for cash considerations on August 11 and he has assumed the rotation spot of fellow Canadian lefty James Paxton (Ladner, B.C.) who’s sidelined with a left pectoral muscle strain.
John Axford, Port Dover, Ont., Free Agent
The Oakland A’s released Axford on August 1 and he remains a free agent. The 6-foot-5 reliever had troubles finding his form this season after beginning the campaign on the disabled list with a right shoulder injury. In 22 appearances with the A’s, he walked 17 batters in 21 innings and posted a 6.43 ERA.
Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
Despite still being hampered by a lack of strength in his wrist that was fractured by a pitch from Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Aaron Loup on May 18, Freeman had an excellent week at the plate, going 10-for-27 (.370) in seven games. He belted his 25th home run of the season on Friday. After competing for Canada in this year’s World Baseball Classic as a tribute to his late mother, Freeman was enjoying an MVP-calibre season before he was hit by Loup's pitch. Freeman’s mother, Rosemary, who was born in Toronto and grew up in Peterborough, Ont., eventually moved to Windsor, Ont., where she met Freeman’s father, Fred, and the couple moved to California. Freeman’s mother passed away after battling cancer in 2000 at age 47 when Freeman was 10.
Russell Martin, Montreal, Que., Toronto Blue Jays
Martin was placed on the 10-day disabled list on August 12 with a left oblique strain. He told reporters on Saturday that he will return to the lineup shortly, but he didn’t provide a specific date. He had been rehabbing in Dunedin, Fla., but recently flew to Toronto due to the hurricane to continue his recovery. The 34-year-old veteran has batted .223 with 12 home runs in 81 games this season, while his OBP is a healthy .354.
James Paxton, Ladner, B.C., Seattle Mariners
Josh Horton of MLB.com reported on Sunday that Paxton, who has been sidelined since August 11 with a left pectoral muscle strain, will return and start for the Mariners on Friday against the Houston Astros. With a 12-3 record and a 2.78 ERA and 138 strikeouts in 119 2/3 innings in 20 starts overall, Paxton had put himself in the conversation for the American League Cy Young Award prior to his injury. This was the Canadian lefty’s second stint on the DL this season. He was previously sidelined from May 5 to May 31 with a left forearm strain.
Nick Pivetta, Victoria, B.C., Philadelphia Phillies
Pivetta was rocked for six runs on 10 hits in five innings in his start against the New York Mets on Wednesday. In 22 big league starts this season, the 6-foot-5 right-hander is 5-10 with a 6.49 ERA and he has fanned 117 batters in 111 innings.
Dalton Pompey, Mississauga, Ont., Toronto Blue Jays
Pompey has reportedly started baseball activities again, but it’s too late for the speedy outfielder to return to game action this season. The Blue Jays moved the Mississauga, Ont., native to the 60-day disabled list on July 19 due to a nagging knee injury. Pompey has not played since appearing in a game for the triple-A Buffalo Bisons on July 8. The knee injury comes after Pompey was sidelined for nearly two months with a concussion after taking a knee to his head when sliding into second base in Canada’s second game in the World Baseball Classic.
Michael Saunders, Victoria, B.C., Toronto Blue Jays
Saunders got his first start with the Blue Jays this season on Wednesday against the Boston Red Sox and went 1-for-3. In five games with the Blue Jays since being recalled on September 1, he has three singles in six at bats. It had been a long road back to the big leagues for the left-handed hitting outfielder who after last season’s all-star campaign with the Blue Jays inked a guaranteed one-year, $9-million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. But the Victoria, B.C., native was released by the Phillies on June 25 after batting .205 with a .257 OBP in 50 games with them. He then signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays and batted .274 with two home runs in 35 games with the triple-A Bisons before being recalled.
Jameson Taillon, Canadian Citizen, Pittsburgh Pirates
Taillon suffered his sixth loss of the season when he was roughed up for six runs on 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings in his start against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday. It was the 6-foot-7, 230-pound hurler’s 15th start back since undergoing surgery for testicular cancer on May 8. Taillon, who was selected second overall in the 2010 MLB draft and whose parents are Canadian, is now 7-6 with a 4.78 ERA with 110 strikeouts in 116-2/3 innings in 22 starts with the Pirates this season.
Jesen Therrien, Montreal, Que., Philadelphia Phillies
After complaining of forearm tightness early last week, Therrien was diagnosed with damage to his right ulnar collateral ligament. The Phillies announced on Friday that he is being shut down for the season. The diagnosis could also mean that the Canadian right-hander might have to undergo Tommy John surgery. Therrien finishes his first taste of big league action with a 8.35 ERA in 15 relief appearances. Scouted by Canadian Alex Agostino, Therrien was selected in the 17th round of the 2011 MLB draft by the Phillies. Now in his sixth season in the Phillies organization, the 24-year-old hurler had been dominant in double-A and triple-A in 2017, posting a combined 1.41 ERA in 57 1/3 innings while registering 65 strikeouts.
Joey Votto, Etobicoke, Ont., Cincinnati Reds
It was a typical week for Votto, he went 8-for-24 (.333 batting average) with six walks in seven games. He has 34 home runs on the season and is inching closer to his career high of 37 that he belted in 2010. Votto leads the National League with a .448 on-base percentage and 120 walks.
Rob Zastryzny, Edmonton, Alta., Chicago Cubs
The 25-year-old lefty was hit hard in both of his relief outings for the Cubs this past week, allowing seven earned runs on 11 hits in seven innings. In 17 appearances – including 10 starts - between rookie ball and triple-A earlier this season, the Canadian southpaw had posted a 5.17 ERA before he was called up on September 3. Zastryzny was an effective pitcher for the Cubs down the stretch last season when he posted a 1.13 ERA in eight outings in August and September, including one start.