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The Dodgers entered spring training not counting on Hyun-Jin Ryu but hoping to be pleasantly surprised. The latter is exactly what’s happened.
Manager Dave Roberts said after Ryu’s five-inning outing on Monday versus the White Sox that the left-hander will be part of the team’s season-opening rotation. Ryu was eased into things this spring following basically two full missed seasons due to shoulder and elbow injuries, but he’s put up a 2.57 ERA and 12/1 K/BB ratio across 14 Cactus League frames.
"I think Ryu is throwing well, he's built up enough and we feel confident enough that he'll be one of the five," Roberts said. "He's given us no reason to not be [in the rotation]. We feel that a healthy Hyun-Jin is a good thing. We expect him to be one of our five. Coming in, we didn't know what to expect. We expected (Scott Kazmir) to be fine, but it's just kind of gone the other way. But Ryu kept plugging away, showing he's healthy, making starts. It just gives us the confidence that he can give us quality starts when he's out there. Every time he takes the mound, he responds and recovers well."
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The Cactus League performance of Ryu has been very encouraging, and we must remember that this is a guy who posted a 3.17 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 293/78 K/BB ratio across 344 innings in his two healthy seasons with the Dodgers from 2013-14. He can certainly help fantasy owners if he can come close to regaining that old form.
That said, while there are currently plenty of good vibes, Ryu remains a big question mark. He hasn’t thrown more than five innings yet and there’s no telling how he’ll hold up to a regular starter’s workload following two lost seasons. Also, his velocity this spring has ranged from 84-92 mph, depending on what day it is and who you talk to. Ryu is back on the fantasy radar, but don’t get too excited yet.
Battling for the final spot in the Dodgers’ rotation will be Brandon McCarthy and Alex Wood. While Wood (3.18 ERA, 11/2 K/BB ratio over 11 1/3 innings) has out-pitched McCarthy (4.85 ERA, 7/1 K/BB ratio over 13 innings) this spring, him having a lot more recent bullpen experience might work against him. The Dodgers also already have three lefties in the rotation, so they might prefer McCarthy’s right-handed arm.
Whoever cracks the rotation out of McCarthy and Wood will probably just be holding a spot for Julio Urias, who is set to begin the year in extended spring training as the Dodgers keep an eye on his workload. Kazmir could also eventually be a factor, but he’s looked awful this spring and will start the season on the disabled list with a hip issue.
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The Royals named a starter at one position Monday but lost a starter at another spot due to injury.
Manager Ned Yost indicated Monday that Raul Mondesi was a long shot to win the second base job when camp opened, "but the more we saw him play this spring," Yost said, "we knew we had to keep an open mind. Mondi came in and did a great job and just won the job outright." The Royals knew Mondesi could run and play defense, but he also hit a blistering .375/.388/.625 with three home runs and four stolen bases during Cactus League play.
The big showing from Mondesi this spring is certainly nice to see, and he does figure to help out fantasy owners in the speed department. However, it’s hard to imagine a 21-year-old with a career .249/.297/.378 batting line in the minors and a .185/.231/.281 line last season in the majors doing much at all with the bat. He’s also set to hit ninth in the Kansas City lineup. Mondesi shouldn’t really be on your mixed league radar. Whit Merrifield and Christian Colon will now battle for a utility infielder spot, with Colon having an edge because he’s out of options.
One guy who has certainly been on mixed league radars this spring with his big power potential is Jorge Soler. Unfortunately, Soler suffered a strained left oblique on Sunday and is surely headed to the disabled list to begin the season.
An MRI revealed that Soler is dealing with a Grade 1 strain, which is the least severe, so it’s possible his absence will be a relatively short one. Soler has had a rough spring training, batting just .143/.254/.286 with 18 strikeouts over 49 at-bats. He’s also been mostly a disappointment so far in the majors with a .258/.328/.434 batting line. However, he could have plenty of untapped potential at 25 and his leash in Kansas City figures to be longer than it was in Chicago.
Terrance Gore figures to make the Opening Day roster now with Soler hurt, and he could see some playing time in right field along with Paulo Orlando. The Royals could also use Brandon Moss on occasion in right and give Cheslor Cuthbert and Colon at-bats in the designated hitter spot.
Familia Suspension Shorter than Chapman’s?
The Mets and fantasy owners have been waiting on Major League Baseball to officially hand down a suspension to Jeurys Familia as a result of his offseason domestic violence arrest. That suspension is set to come this week, and it looks like it might be shorter than anticipated.
Billy Witz of the New York Times reported Monday evening that Familia’s suspension is "almost certain" to be less than the 30 games Aroldis Chapman received. Apparently, the reasoning for this is that Familia and his wife, Bianca Rivas, have cooperated with police and baseball investigators and Rivas has said the injuries she suffered the night Familia was charged did not come from her husband.
The length of the suspension commissioner Rob Manfred ultimately gives Familia remains to be seen, but we will find out soon enough. Addison Reed will serve as the Mets’ closer while Familia serves his suspension.
Quick Hits: Michael Brantley (shoulder) is scheduled to play in three straight Cactus League games beginning on Tuesday. The Indians will presumably determine after that whether he’s ready to be part of their Opening Day roster … Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports has reported that the Cardinals and Yadier Molina have made progress on contract extension talks … Seemingly over the elbow scare from earlier this month, Carlos Carrasco is penciled in to start the second game of the season for the Indians … Daniel Norris said he was dealing with a "dead arm" during Monday's outing versus the Braves in which he allowed nine runs on 13 hits and a walk over three innings … Jarrod Dyson (hamstring) is hoping to return to Cactus League action on Wednesday … Gregory Polanco (shoulder) has yet to resume throwing and won't do so until at least this weekend, but he has been able to hit the last few days … Bryce Harper hit a pair of homers Monday and leads all of spring training with eight longballs … Blue Jays manager John Gibbons indicated Monday that Devon Travis (knee) is likely to be ready to play on Opening Day … Khris Davis (quad) didn’t play for the A’s Monday and isn’t slated to Tuesday, either, after playing in a minor league game Sunday. However, there doesn’t look to be worry right now that he might not be ready for Opening Day … Aaron Sanchez popped a blister on a finger on his pitching hand during Monday's start against the Phillies. The Blue Jays hope it’s not a recurring issue, but they’ll have to wait and see how it responds … Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago has reported that the Rays have acquired Peter Bourjos from the White Sox … Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM has reported that Angel Pagan will decide on a team soon, with the Blue Jays, Giants, Padres, Braves and Tigers having all shown interest … The Diamondbacks released Gregor Blanco on Monday, but they could re-sign him … The Orioles released Michael Bourn and Chris Johnson on Monday … Heyman has reported that the Dodgers have signed Justin Masterson to a minor league contract … Tyler Thornburg will undergo an MRI Tuesday after being scratched from a Grapefruit League appearance due to an upper right trapezius spasm … The Rangers released James Loney … The A’s released Alejandro De Aza … The Reds released Ryan Raburn … The Nationals released Joe Nathan and Matt Albers, although they could re-sign the latter …