Happy Monday – some news from around the league …
- Among the Cardinals many problems in their rotation is starting pitcher Jaime Garcia. The problem, however, is not his results – when he’s actually on the field, he’s quite good. The problem is keeping him on the field. Already in his career, Garcia has undergone Tommy John Surgery, rotator-cuff surgery and thoracic outlet surgery, limiting him to just 739.1 IP over the past six-plus seasons. But in his last start on Thursday, he reminded everyone just how good he can be with a one-hit shutout that featured 13 strikeouts to just 2 walks. In fact, that outing was so good that Craig Edwards writes that Jaime Garcia just pitched the game of his life in an article at FanGraphs. Obviously, not everyone can replicate that level of results every time out, but if Garcia can finally remain healthy this year, the Cardinals’ rotational struggles might sort themselves out.
- Back on April 5, Cuban star Jose Miguel Fernandez was officially declared a free agent by Major League Baseball. Before leaving Cuba, Fernandez (who turns 28 next week) was considered to be the third best player in the country (not the third best prospect; the third best player in the country). Because of his age and his skillset (he’s a lefty bat with great on base skills and the ability to play second base), Fernandez is widely expected to get quite an enormous contract upon entering the majors. His final decision will certainly shake up a playoff race somewhere, and it’s just a matter of time. Recently, he released a brand new video, showing off some of his skills, and he has an open showcase scheduled for May 2 and May 3 in the Dominican Republic. Ben Badler from Baseball America has more on the story here.
- Pirates star infielder Jung Ho Kang is almost ready to rejoin the Pirates after spending the entire offseason rehabbing from left knee surgery. If you recall last September, Kang was seriously injured on a Chris Coghlan slide into second base. The slide forced Kang to the DL and into a length rehabilitation. Starting today, Kang is ready to get back into action and is heading to AAA Indianapolis on his journey back to the Major Leagues. Kang is an excellent player and will be a huge boon to the Pirates chances in the NL Central, if he can come back strong. As of now, he’s expected to spend somewhere between 2-3 weeks in AAA, depending on how he looks and feels. The Cubs next play the Pirates from May 2-4, so Kang might be back just in time for that series.
- The Texas Rangers extended 37-year-old third baseman Adrian Beltre to a two-year/$36 million deal, extending team control through the 2018 season (previously scheduled to be a free agent at the end of 2016). “I feel like I am 25,” Beltre told T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. “Age is just a number. I’m still playing like I thought I would.” And he’s right. Over the past five years (his ages 32-36 seasons), Beltre has been worth an incredible 27.3 fWAR. Indeed, he’s already gotten off to a great start in 2016, slashing .292/.352/.521 with 2 home runs and just a 5.6% strikeout rate (0.4 WAR, already). Two years and $36 million might be an under-market deal. Well done, Rangers.
- Against the backdrop of Jackie Robinson day on Friday, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle made some positive comments about women one day knocking down the very same door. “This isn’t just an African-American celebration. This is about the opening of doors for everybody,” Hurdle told the Beaver County Times, via ESPN W. “I still believe firmly there is going to be a day where there is a female player in the big leagues.”
- (It won’t be Sarah Hudek, by the way – you may recall the lefty was the only female pitching in college baseball, but she’s now headed to Texas A&M to play softball.)
- Yu Darvish, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, threw 50 pitches to hitters in a batting cage on Sunday, and apparently looked excellent in the process. “It was really good,” Rangers pitching coach Doug Brocail told Evan Grant at SportsDay, “The breaking ball was crisp. The slider was unbelievable. The fastball was good and hard with both two- and four-seamers. He threw strikes in a lot of good areas.” Following this side session, Darvish will head to AA Frisco on April 26, with an eye on returning to the majors after three or four starts. That would put him back in MLB by May 11 or May 16, depending on how many starts are needed. The Cubs don’t play the Rangers until July 15, so it’s quite likely that Darvish will be back with his team by the time they get to Chicago.
- On Saturday, Matt Harvey and the Mets got off to a great start against the Indians. Harvey struck out the side in the first and retired his first 13 batters he faced. But, starting in the fifth inning, Harvey got shelled. When all was said and done, he lasted just 5.2 IP giving up 5 earned runs on 6 hits (2 doubled) and 3 walks. According to Indians outfielder Rajai Davis, Harvey was more hittable out of the stretch than the windup (where he was far more deceptive). According to the Mets and the radar gun, though, it was velocity that failed him. Averaging out at 93 MPH on Saturday, Harvey’s velocity is down 3 whole MPH from where it was back in 2013 (pre-Tommy John surgery). Although Harvey and the Mets are frustrated, all parties still believe Harvey will have a nice season in the end.
- Also out of the Mets rotation: Jacob deGrom has been played on the family medical emergency list (not unlike the disabled list, with some subtle distinctions), because of health complications involving his newborn child. deGrom left the team earlier this week for the birth of his first child in Florida, but before Saturday’s game against Cleveland “complications developed and deGrom needed to stay with his family.” I’ve thankfully never had to experience something quite like that, so I can only imagine what deGrom is experiencing. I’m sure we all wish deGrom and his son Jaxon the very best of luck and a speedy recovery.
- Yasiel Puig is off to an excellent start on the field this year (.356/.442/.533), and is reportedly making an extra effort to be a better teammate off the field. Dodgers president Andrew Friedman, agrees. “He said he wanted to be a better teammate, he just wasn’t sure how, [and] it showed a level of vulnerability to me.” Friedman later added that he believes baseball, as an industry, has failed their Cuban players by paying them big money and rushing them to the big leagues without much help outside the stadiums. It’s an interesting though and one I’m very much excited to see explored and addressed in the future. Andrew Friedman is a knowledgeable, thoughtful dude.
- Lastly, spot on, gents:
Fantastic – the Pirates played in 1979 throwbacks, so the Root Sports broadcast threw themselves back, too. pic.twitter.com/yoF33ojxwz
— Baseball Is Fun (@flippingbats) April 18, 2016