MLBits: Lindor's Big Moment, Walker's UCL, Cardinals Calling up a Top Prospect, More

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MLBits: Lindor’s Big Moment, Walker’s UCL, Cardinals Calling up a Top Prospect, More

Chicago Cubs

Yesterday, I went to visit my brand new nephew, Thomas, for the very first time and he’s freakin’ awesome. He’s my brother’s second kid and he’s gonna be the world’s biggest Cubs fan. At the same time, my sister is *also* due to have her second child any minute now, but she still hasn’t popped yet (is that a sensitive way to say it?).

Point being, I’ll soon have four nieces/nephews, which, plus me, makes us just four spots short of a full team (we could always just roll with two outfielders, in left and right-center). I know a lot of people like to start fake rock bands with their family, but I heard MLB is eventually going to expand to 32 teams, so I’m being smart about it. Plus there’s like a million bands out there.

Here’s some news from around the league …

  • In case you missed it the other day, Francisco Lindor returned to his former elementary school in Puerto Rico as part of MLB’s trip there this year, where he was greeted by a chorus of “Lindor! Lindor!” chants from the kids. One night later, during the first game in Puerto Rico against the Twins, Lindor did this:

  • The way that place erupts for its hometown superstar – not long after Hurricane Maria’s devastation, no less – is truly heartwarming and special. It may have been just a two-run shot in the fifth inning of a standard April contest, but it meant a lot more than that to everyone there. Very cool.
  • Less cool, this:

  • As far as Craig Calcaterra (NBC Sports) can tell, no one from the Twins actually – or, at least, publicly – complained about Lindor’s excited trip around the bases (pumping up the fans with his arms is hardly much of an offense), but to Calcaterra, the issue is that he felt the need to apologize. The Twins’ early-season issues with a bunt single put them on the map as fun-police, but I’m hoping this one was just a bit of a misunderstanding. And as for you, Lindor, not only can you ALWAYS celebrate however you want, I hope you go 10x as hard the next time you homer in Puerto Rico. We’ve got your back on that one.
  • Tough news out of Arizona, where the D-Backs learned from an MRI that Taijuan Walker’s elbow has a UCL injury. Note, it’s not necessarily considered a tear at the moment – which would require Tommy John surgery – but it’s clearly not a good sign. Even manager Torey Lovullo is unclear what it all means and what lies ahead: “I apologize for being vague, but it’s very vague right now,” Lovullo told “Every bit of information that we’ve gotten is vague. I know in the coming days I’ll have more information about what the next steps are.” Worse, the D-Backs are off to a rocket start this year (12-4) and are currently in first place of the NL West.
  • Hey, Jose Bautista finally found a landing spot, and a new-old position:

  • Cardinals center fielder Tommy Pham suffered a minor groin injury against the Cubs on Tuesday night, so the Cardinals are calling up their N0. 4 overall prospect, Tyler O’Neill as a bit of insurance. O’Neil, 22, is an outfielder who was drafted in the third round of the 2013 MLB draft and currently ranks as the 94th best prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. After 12 games at Triple-A this season, O’Neill is slashing .388/.385/.837 (192 wRC+). He does have a 1.9% walk rate and 19.2% strikeout rate though, so … don’t give him anything to hit? Also, tiny sample sizes are silly. Also also, holy crap he looks like a freaking tank:

  • Aaron Judge is still doing things:

  • For reference, it took Kris Bryant 275 games to reach that mark. Kyle Schwarber is currently at 214 games with 11 more homers to go.
  • A friend of mine very recently visited Japan and sent me a couple of SnapChats of TVs (his hotel, bars, restaurants, etc.) that he started calling “Ohtani-TV,” because it seemed as though his face was being broadcast 24/7. And he’s not wrong. At the Washington Post, Dave Sheinin discusses the truly insane Japanese media coverage of Ohtani in the U.S., and how he *still* has a swarm of reporters following him everywhere he goes. “If Tom Brady or LeBron James or Bryce Harper suddenly decided to play overseas,” wrote Sheinin, “likely no more than a handful of U.S. media outlets would be willing to spend the money it would take to provide full-time coverage.” But for Ohtani, the Japanese media is losing their minds.
  • … and so far – at least, in my opinion – it’s all warranted. As of today, Ohtani is slashing .367/.424/.767 (226 wRC+) with 3 homers, a 9.1% walk rate and a 21.2% strikeout rate. And as a pitcher, Ohtani has gone 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA (3.05 FIP) through his three starts, including a ridiculous 33.3% strikeout rate and a below-average (in a good way!) 7.0% walk rate. He’s literally one of the best hitters *and* pitchers right now. It’s nuts. How could you not cover that, right?
  • He is, however, currently dealing with a blister issue.
  • And finally, here’s a wild fact for you:

  • That more and more teams are carrying an extra reliever before September isn’t much of a shock, given how often modern managers like to lean on their bullpens, but still … a 179% increase? That’s almost comically high. Baseball is going through all sorts of changes right now (fly ball revolution, juiced ball era, strikeout era, high velocity era, etc.), but the increased use of relievers might be one of the most significant.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami