Brewers reliever enjoying solid campaign, makes highlight-reel play
By Curt Hogg
MILWAUKEE -- For much of the season, Carlos Torres has quietly gone about his job of successfully occupying various roles in the Brewers' bullpen, but the right-hander made a statement with a highlight-reel play and two scoreless innings in relief in Friday's 5-2 loss against the Cubs.
Torres saved a run with a diving tag of Addison Russell on an attempted squeeze bunt in the sixth, a play that helped lower his ERA to 3.02 -- a mark that may draw notice from contenders as the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches.
"He was outstanding, for sure," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "That play at the plate, that was an exceptional play, really. A very athletic play, it was a great play and maybe the only play he had."
With one out in the sixth, Jason Hammel laid down a squeeze that rolled toward Torres. As Russell darted home, Torres didn't have enough time to make the flip to catcher Jonathan Lucroy, so he took matters into his own hands. Instead, Torres tucked the ball in his glove and dove headfirst toward a sliding Russell to make the tag.
"He bunted the ball and I just attacked it," Torres said. "I was already there, so I just tried to make a play. My momentum was already going forward, so I just tried to make a play and luckily I did."
The heads-up hustle play drew applause from the visitors' dugout as well.
"That was pretty impressive," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "[Torres] did not want to flip the ball. I think if he'd flipped it, we'd have had a chance to score. They were ready for us. That's good baseball."
With his two scoreless frames, Torres increased his innings total to 47 2/3, the most among Brewers relievers and tied for the ninth-highest total among National League relievers. At various times, he has pitched as the setup man, mopup man, middle reliever and has two saves as a fill-in closer. Considering Milwaukee acquired him as a Minor League free agent following Spring Training, they have been quite pleased with his versatility and production.
"He's been an important guy for us all year," Counsell said. "He's served a lot of roles, pitched in a lot of different situations and has done a nice job."
It's no secret that the fourth-place Brewers are sellers, and Torres, 33, may have worked his way into those discussions. Torres appeared in 165 games and posted a 3.59 ERA and 3.94 FIP over three seasons with the Mets, but chose free agency after being designated for assignment in February. He signed a Minor League deal with the Braves, who then released him following Spring Training in late March.
Torres is striking out a career-best 9.1 batters per nine innings and has a 2.57 ERA since the beginning of May. He is arbitration-eligible the next two seasons, so the Brewers have him under team control through 2018; Torres, however, will 35 on Opening Day of that season and could provide a versatile weapon for a contender's bullpen with his versatility and ability to go multiple innings.
Will any of those rumors catch Torres' ear?
"No, not at all," Torres said. "That's not something that a lot of people think about. Everything is hearsay. I don't read newspaper clippings, I don't listen to news. A lot of guys don't; there are some that do, obviously. You still have got to go out there and do your job."
Curt Hogg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.