MLB News: Gems from Jon Lester, Masahiro Tanaka, DL trips for Ryan Braun, Brandon Morrow

Jim Rogash

Jon Lester and Masahiro Tanaka give the Red Sox and Yankees their money's worth, while Ryan Braun and Brandon Morrow are going to get paid to get healthy.

Every time Jon Lester pitches, the Red Sox must feel dumber and dumber for their decision to lowball him on an extension offer in April and cause him to cut off any further negotiations until after the year is over. And after Saturday's 15-strikeout, one-hit masterpiece against the Oakland A's, they must be reminding themselves of Jim Carrey asking Lauren Holly "So, you're telling me there's a chance?!"

In easily his best pitching performance of the season, and maybe of his entire career, Lester continued what's been a solid season so far in spite of the contract controversy. His 3.10 ERA and 1.23 WHIP are slightly better than his career averages  -- 3.74 and 1.30, respectively -- and his ERA+, which shows his ERA relative to the league average, is his highest since 2008. Best yet, he's succeeding by piling up the strikeouts rather than relying on an artificially low batting average on balls in play (.313 BABIP, vs. a career mark of .302).

The Red Sox only offered Lester $70 million dollars over four years, but his market value could be somewhere between $25-75 million above that depending on who you talk to.

Tanaka continues dominant debut season

New York Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka continued one of the best rookie seasons in recent memory with a seven-inning, five strikeout performance against the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday.

Thoughts of fat horny toads may have danced in the heads of Yankees fans when it was first announced that their Bombers would be signing the Japanese import to an enormous seven-year, $155 million contract before he threw a single major league pitch. But after starting his first big league season the way Tanaka has -- a 2.53 ERA, WHIP under 1.00 and 8.5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in six starts -- it's likely those have been replaced by dreams of parades down the Canyon of Heroes and the finest champagne bottles in the Bronx being unscrewed in celebration of another World Series championship.

And while Saturday's performance started off a little shaky -- he gave up a "career-high" two home runs, one each to Desmond Jennings and Wil Myers -- he still managed to earn a win and, much more importantly, a quality start.

Braun headed to DL with oblique strain

The NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers may not be in first place much longer if star outfielder Ryan Braun misses more than the fifteen days he's planning on after being retroactively placed on the disabled list Saturday. The decision was made after the strain in his oblique caused him to miss the last six games.

Although maligned for his off-field infractions and their tendency to enhance his on-field performance, Braun is off to a great start this season for the first-place Los Cerveceros. Lead by Braun's .318/.361/.591 splits and Carlos Gomez's seven home runs, the team has made it to the top of the division with an offense that largely consists of a series of cleverly placed smoke and mirrors. But it's been working because of Braun's superlative play and a pitching staff that has recorded the second-lowest ERA in the majors behind the Atlanta Braves.

The stint on the DL is post-dated from April 27th, so Braun will be eligible to return on May 12th, the day before the start of a divisional series at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Morrow's finger injury will keep him sidelined

A rough season got even rockier for Toronto Blue Jays starter Brandon Morrow, as the struggling pitcher was placed on the 15-day DL with a strained right index finger.

Although Morrow has always struggled to stay healthy and dominant for any extended period of time, he's had a particularly difficult go of it so far this season. His ERA (5.93) is over a run-and-a-half higher than his career average of 4.28 and he's already walked 17 batters in just 27⅓ innings pitched. And those stats were compiled before the injury, which happened in his last start against the Pirates when he gave up 11 hits in just five innings of work before telling the training staff that he "heard something pop," according to manager John Gibbons.

The assumption is that Morrow simply suffered a strain, but he met with his personal doctor to get an MRI which will likely determine whether or not he will be back at all this season.

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