I mentioned this earlier, but I’ll say it again: the 162-game, nearly-everyday schedule of Major League Baseball is one of its best qualities.
In the NFL especially – but most other professional sports, too – stinky losses can stick with you for way too long. But in baseball, you split a series with one of the worst teams in the league (who had an injured rotation and a depleted bullpen) and you get to play another game at 3:10 the next day. It’s awesome.
Well, it’s more awesome if you win that game at 3:10, but you get my point. Here’s some news from around the league …
- Shohei Ohtani made his Major League debut as a batter on Opening Day, but his time on the mound only just started yesterday. And in his first start, he went 6.0 innings, allowing just three earned runs on three hits, one walk, and six strikeouts. At MLB.com, Mike Petriello takes your through his start like a scout, noting, among many things, his elite 97.8 MPH fastball, the effectiveness of his splitter (99th percentile) and his ability to throw sliders for called strikes. Needless to say, his first start went well. Check out Petriello’s article for much more, including highlights.
Shohei Ohtani getting Matt Olson on three pitches
100mph Fastball + a pair of filth at 89mph pic.twitter.com/3TLieASQhX
— Pitcher List (@PitcherList) April 1, 2018
- Ohtani to every team that did not sign him, sigh:
- Jeff Passan dropped a bunch of notes at Yahoo Sports – including more on Ohtani’s first start, if you’re interested – but among the many gems was this story on new Phillies Manager Gabe Kapler and his rocky start to the season:
Also in 10 Degrees: Ohtani’s glorious debut, Berrios/Fernandez, Price’s opt-out, the bargain of Freddie Freeman, Eaton, Yelich and a mini-column of its own on Gabe Kapler’s messy first weekend as Phillies manager. https://t.co/HI385UtMB4 pic.twitter.com/AqVNF6eUFh
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 2, 2018
- Indeed, after making a questionable pull decision in the first game of the year (one that probably led to the Phillies’ first loss), Kapler then called on a reliever who hadn’t yet warmed up. Woof. This managing thing isn’t too easy, is it?
- According to FanGraphs, MLB Opening Day Payrolls are down from 2017 and it has to do with some of the previously biggest spenders (Yankees, Dodgers, Tigers, etc.) spending far less than usual. Obviously, there are still some teams that went above and beyond (including the Brewers, who have the biggest percent increase in their payroll in MLB), but the graph of actual dollars shows that things were ultimately in decline. It’s all something I think we more or less thought, but seeing it in graph and chart form really cements it.
- I’m officially changing the name of the “Fly Ball Revolution” to the “Fly Ball Pandemic”:
I don't really want to write about this so early, but at this rate if I don't, everyone else will have done it already, so I will probably end up writing about this later this week. 🙃 pic.twitter.com/uHDfiSCpUc
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) April 2, 2018
- I suppose it’s a very good thing for hitters, especially guys whose power wasn’t immediately apparent. Take Ian Happ, for example. After posting a .179 ISO in High-A (41.4 GB%, 33.3 FB%) and a .153 ISO in Double-A (45.3 GB%, 35.8 GB%), Happ bought into the fly ball revolution at Triple-A Iowa (38.7 GB%, 38.7 FB%) and improved his ISO all the way up to .317. And obviously now, he’s a serious power threat every time he’s up to the plate.
- But aside from that more obvious angle, Brett has another one to consider:
My word. Launch angle up enormously so far this year. Underdiscussed side effect of the expanding fly ball revolution? Greater importance on outfield defense, especially corner outfield defense due to increased pull propensities. https://t.co/ThlaCvgBPu
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) April 2, 2018
- It’s possible that we’re entering (or are already in) a new era, where corner outfield defense begins to be a lot more important than it has been in previous seasons. We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on that this year, especially considering the Cubs have particularly interesting stories there in the corner outfield spots (can Schwarber play effective D? can Heyward play incredible enough D to make up for the lack of O?).
- On Sunday, Twins starter Jose Berios was working a one-hit shutout in the ninth against the Orioles when Chance Sisco dropped a bunt down to the left side of the field, where there were no Twins defenders, for a single. The game eventually ended with the shutout intact, but the Twins were apparently annoyed by Sisco’s move: “Obviously, we’re not a fan of it,” said Twins second baseman Brian Dozier. “He’s a young kid. I could’ve said something at second base but they have tremendous veteran leadership over there. I’m sure they’ll address that. It’s all about learning. You learn up here.”
- I’m sorry, but am I being punked here? I’m not kidding. I don’t even *a little bit* understand the Twins’ frustration. Berrios wasn’t working on a no-hitter or perfect game, the Orioles just hadn’t scored yet. Why in the WORLD should he not do whatever it takes to win? MOREOVER, the Twins were extreme shifting on Sisco, which means clearly they didn’t stop trying, why should he?
This was the defensive alignment Sisco was facing when he bunted down 7-0 in the ninth. Pathetic of Dozier or any other Twin to complain about Sisco taking advantage in this supposedly non-competitive situation when you're obviously playing as thought it's a competitive situation pic.twitter.com/LX3cvWECDZ
— Matthew Pouliot (@matthewpouliot) April 1, 2018
- There’s probably a lot more to say about this – and there’s certianly plenty more in this post at NBC Sports – but I get really chapped at these sort of stories.
- The Pirates have placed right-hander Joe Musgrove on the 10-day DL due to a strained muscle in his right shoulder. They’ve since recalled right-hander Clay Holmes from Triple-A Indianapolis, but still need a starter for Musgrove’s scheduled start on Thursday. Steven Brault and Tyler Glasnow are both options. The Cubs open up Wrigley Field against the Pirates a week from today.
- The Brewers, like the Cubs, opened the 2018 season up against a weak opponent, the San Diego Padres, but took advantage of their situation, sweeping them in three straight. If you have the stomach to read all about what went right for them, be my guest.
- Today, MLB and USA Baseball announced that the second annual Trailblazer Series will take place later this month: “Nearly 100 girls, ages 11 to 13, from 21 states, as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and Canada, will gather on Jackie Robinson Weekend and play baseball together. The girls will also receive instruction from top female coaches and players from around the country.” Given the success of last year’s event – and the general need for these sort of opportunities – I’m glad to see it back.
- Dusty Baker has some thoughts, some of which are printable:
Dusty Baker has made his own sort of peace with being fired by the Nationals following "the craziest game I’ve ever seen." And he still doesn’t care what you think. https://t.co/IERm3EyPgC pic.twitter.com/TbmqidYeh5
— Post Sports (@PostSports) April 2, 2018
— Mariners (@Mariners) April 1, 2018
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) April 2, 2018
Brett Taylor contributed bad puns to this post.