Matt Albers' 2015 success seemed fairly unsustainable, so his 2016 certainly came as a bit of a surprise. His ERA skyrocketed to 6.31, his strikeout rate dipped to 5.3 K/9 and he allowed nearly two homers per nine innings. Although his stats weren't necessarily good at home (4.21 ERA, 1.36 WHIP), his road numbers really dragged him down, as he posted a 8.42 ERA and 1.99 WHIP while striking out fewer batters than he walked. Albers' control was poor (3.3 BB/9) and even though his FIP was lower than his ERA, a 5.85 FIP is still nothing to write home about. Last season's tough campaign will make it hard for the right-hander to garner anything more than a middle-relief role with whichever team signs him, especially at age 33.
The White Sox declined their 2017 option for Albers' contract, making him a free agent. After averaging a 2.28 ERA and 1.21 WHIP over the last three seasons, Albers saw said marks shoot up to 6.31 and 1.68, respectively. As a result, the White Sox have decided to buyout the remainder of his contract and part ways with the righty. Regardless of where he ends up, Albers will almost certainly remain in the bullpen and look to rebound from 2016's dreadful performance.
Albers has allowed 12 earned runs since July 1, giving up 25 hits and six walks while striking out just seven over 16.1 innings. After not allowing an earned run in his first 12.2 innings of the season, Albers has been awful with a 7.50 ERA and 1.89 WHIP. He has 13 holds this season, but none since July 25.
Albers will start Saturday against the Tigers in place of Chris Sale (illness), Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports. With Sale reportedly under the weather (not traded), Albers will step in opposite Matt Boyd for his first start since 2008. Albers has struggled since April and hasn't thrown more than 37 pitches in appearance this season, so Saturday will effectively be a bullpen game for the White Sox.
Albers (2-4) worked around two hits and a walk in two scoreless frames Wednesday against the Mets, and he helped his own cause by doubling and scoring the game-winning run in the top of the 13th. A 33-year-old veteran reliever, Albers hadn't even had an at-bat since 2009, and both of his career hits came way back in 2007, back when he was a starting pitcher. But you wouldn't have known it from the way the chunky righty -- who bats lefty -- socked a 2-2 pitch into the gap in left-center, getting it past the Mets' outfielders, who were playing shallow. He came around to score on a wild pitch and a sac fly, then came out for the bottom of the frame and locked down his win.
Albers allowed a two-run, game-winning home run against the Astros on Tuesday to suffer his third loss of the season. Albers looked invincible for the first few weeks of the season, but that time has passed. Evan Gattis' knock Tuesday was the third home run Albers has allowed over his past six appearances, and his lack of strikeouts has begun to catch up to him.