Third Time’s a Charm
On Friday night, Shohei Ohtani etched his name into the Angels’ record books. What’s impressive, is that he did so with his hitting prowess and not for his work on the mound.
In the second inning of what was already a 6-0 deficit for the Angels, Ohtani absolutely demolished a Daniel Mengden fastball for a solo home run to center field. According to Statcast, his 112.4 mph exit velocity and the 449 feet that the ball traveled were both the hardest hit and longest home run for any Angels’ hitter thus far during the 2018 season.
It was the third straight game in which Ohtani has homered, making him the first rookie in franchise history to homer in each of his first three home games.
As David Adler of MLB.com astutely points out, a small tweak to his batting stance at the end of spring training seems to be the driving force behind his early-season success. He noted that Ohtani replaced his drawn-out leg kick with a toe tap, which was essentially the same adjustment that Bryce Harper made prior to the 2017 season. This has seemingly given Ohtani the ability to generate much more power.
Ohtani also drew a bases-loaded walk in the ballgame, finishing the night 1-for-4 with a pair of RBI. Through his first four games as a hitter, he’s slashing .389/.421/.889 with the aforementioned three home runs and seven RBI.
As long as he keeps this up, it’ll be hard for Angels’ skipper Mike Scioscia to keep him out of the Angels’ lineup. Admittedly, it’s an extremely small sample size, but to this point, the 23-year-old has looked every bit as much the two-way star that many expected him to be.
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Injury to Insult
The Yankees played a game that they would certainly love to forget against the Orioles on Friday night in the Bronx.
In terms of the actual ballgame, they played a see-saw, back and forth battle that had many twists and turns, ultimately leading to the two clubs playing at a 3-3 tie until the 14th inning. There, with two outs in the top half of the inning, Pedro Alvarez crushed a hanging slider from Jonathan Holder for a grand slam.
Losing that type of game can be painful and bring down a club’s morale. The Yankees lost far more than just a ballgame on Friday though. They also lost four players to illness or injury.
C.C. Sabathia was forced to leave his start after just four innings with what the team has termed right hip soreness. The team wanted to be sure though, sending the veteran left-hander for a precautionary MRI on Friday night. Yankees’ skipper Aaron Boone said after the game that the MRI didn’t really show much, so it’ll be a wait-and-see approach to see how much time (if any) Sabathia stands to miss.
After Sabathia departed, Tyler Wade had to be pulled from the game due to apparent illness. Then Brandon Drury departed in the sixth inning due to migraines and blurred vision. Both should be considered day-to-day.
If that wasn’t enough, Gary Sanchez suffered a right calf injury and had to leave the game in the 14th inning. Sanchez had to be pulled out from behind the plate in the middle of an at-bat by Adam Jones in the top half of the 14th inning. Yankees’ fans and fantasy owners alike have to hope that it was merely a cramp caused from the five hours and 14 innings of catching in the contest.
Filling in for Knebel
The Brewers suffered a major loss late Thursday when Corey Knebel had to leave the game with what looked to be a devastating knee injury. The news got a bit better for them on Friday, when it was announced that he was dealing with only a left hamstring strain.
That bit of “good” news still means that Knebel will be sidelined for at least six weeks, but at least it’s not the entire season. In the meantime, the Brewers will have to find someone else who can get high-leverage outs in the ninth inning.
Brewers’ manager Craig Counsell prefers to keep Josh Hader in his current multi-inning role where he can utilize him in any situation that he sees fit. That means that some combination of Matt Albers, Jacob Barnes, Jeremy Jeffress and Dan Jennings will be handing the save situations for the foreseeable future.
What fantasy owners need to know though, is where is the best place to speculate for save chances? To get that answer, the best place to look may be with how the bullpen was used during Friday’s victory over the Cubs. Keep in mind though, that Jacob Barnes was unavailable on Friday.
On Friday, Brewers’ starter Brandon Woodruff had to be lifted in the fourth inning. That’s when Counsell turned to Hader to get six outs. Even if he’s the most talented hurler in the bullpen, he’ll stay in his current role and will not slide into the ninth inning. Hader was followed by Jeffress, which seemingly takes him out of consideration as well. What’s interesting, is that Albers was called upon to pitch both the eighth and ninth innings in a tied game.
Albers answered the call as well, allowing just one hit over two scoreless innings of work, striking out two in the process. He earned a victory for his efforts after the Brewers walked it off on an RBI single by Orlando Arcia in the bottom of the ninth inning. If I’m searching for saves, my first look here will be to the 35-year-old right-hander who hasn’t allowed a run in five innings of work this season.
American League Quick Hits: Alex Cobb will make one more start in extended spring training on Monday before potentially joining the Orioles’ rotation… Ervin Santana (finger) is hopeful that he’ll be cleared to resume his throwing program next week… Miguel Cabrera (hip) is expected to return to the Tigers’ lineup on Saturday… Daniel Norris is expected to be optioned to Triple-A Toledo on Sunday when Mike Fiers returns from the DL… Aledmys Diaz missed his second straight game due to back spasms… Red Sox’ infield prospect Michael Chavis was suspended 80 games for testing positive for the performance-enhancing drug Dehydrochlormethyltestosterone… The Royals re-signed right-hander Kyle Zimmer to a minor league contract… Michael Brantley drove in two runs in his return from the disabled list, leading the Indians to victory over the Royals… Trayce Thompson is expected to join the Athletics on Saturday… Russell Martin homered and plated three in a victory over the Rangers… Marco Estrada fanned seven over six innings of one-run ball in a victory there… Manny Machado belted his first two home runs of the season as the Orioles’ outlasted the Yankees… Matt Chapman slugged his third home run of the season, one of five Athletics’ long balls, in a losing effort against the Angels… Didi Gregorius swatted his third home run in a loss to the O’s.
National League Quick Hits: Christian Yelich is considered day-to-day with his right oblique injury and should be able to avoid the disabled list… Anthony Rizzo was scratched from the Cubs’ lineup on Friday due to back tightness. He’s considered day-to-day… Kevin Siegrist was suspended for failing to report to Triple-A Indianapolis… Michael Lorenzen (shoulder) is expected to resume his throwing program in “less than a week” according to Reds’ manager Bryan Price… Dinelson Lamet (elbow) began his throwing program on Friday, though he’s still expected to be sidelined until at least May… Luke Gregerson (hamstring) threw a successful bullpen session on Thursday and is nearing a return… Kenta Maeda will have his spot in the rotation skipped after the Dodgers’ game against the Giants was postponed on Friday due to inclement weather… Scott Schebler (elbow) was held out for the fourth straight game on Friday… The Diamondbacks claimed right-hander Troy Scribner off of waivers from the Angels and assigned him to Triple-A Reno… Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that Jarred Cosart will host a showcase for interested teams soon… Dansby Swanson went 3-for-5 with a double, triple and three RBI, leading the Braves’ past the Rockies… The Marlins inked Dustin McGowan to a minor league contract… Nolan Arenado confirmed that the soreness in his left knee is a non-issue… Colin Moran went 4-for-5 with three RBI and three runs scored, leading the Pirates in a rout of the Reds.