MLBits: Hill to the DL, Kershaw Returns, Using an "Opener," Brewers Healing Up, Quickest Debuts, More

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MLBits: Hill to the DL, Kershaw Returns, Using an “Opener,” Brewers Healing Up, Quickest Debuts, More

Chicago Cubs

I’m still excited for ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’, but I have to say … the 71% it has on Rotten Tomatoes right now isn’t doing much to inspire confidence. I so want it to be good, but I’m definitely getting nervous.

  • Well, the Dodgers have some good news and some bad news on the injury front. On the bright side, Clayton Kerhsaw is nearing a return from the disabled list (left biceps tendinitis). On the dark side (see? because Star Wars), they’ll have to go without Rich Hill (blister) “for a few weeks.” Hill has dealt with blisters on and off ever since his triumphant resurgence a few years ago and those problems have not subsided with time. Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts doesn’t know exactly how long he’ll be without Hill, but says “It’s fair to say – four weeks is fair to get back on a Major League mound.” Ouch. Now’s the time to pick of Walker Buehler in your Fantasy League if you haven’t already.
  • The Brewers will activate Chase Anderson (illness) from the DL today, so he can start later tonight against the Diamondbacks. Apparently, Anderson had a bout of food poisoning, and as someone who’s gone through that, let me tell you it’s no joke. But that’s not their only good news. After a successful rehab appearance, the Brewers are also expected to activate Zach Davies (rotator cuff inflammation) in time to start on Thursday. They’re waiting for his between-starts bullpen session to make the call, but it sounds like he’ll be there. Bully for them.
  • And if that wasn’t enough for the first place Brewers, reliever Josh Hader has been pitching so well, he’s this year’s “let’s nominate a reliever for the Cy Young award” candidate. “I think Josh is pitching really well and affecting a lot of our games –and affecting them in a pretty meaningful way,” Counsell said. “And we highly value the impact he’s making. Whether that merits [honors and awards], that’s what baseball fans love to debate.” There’s no doubt that Hader has been other-worldly this season, but, as comes up every year, it’s so hard to see a reliever earning the Cy Young award with 60-80 IP when most winners are throwing 100+ more than that. It’s apples and oranges in my head, but I know not everyone agrees.
  • The Tampa Bays twice deployed an “opener” over the weekend, which is exactly what you think: the opposite of a closer. Reliever Sergio Romo “started” both games for the Rays, throwing 1.0 IP and 1.1 IP in each game, and I could see an argument in either direction. Maybe you can use a great reliever to get through the top of the lineup there at the start of the game, and then let a lesser pitcher come in and begin down in the batting order. But, then again, often, the first time through a batting order is the easiest – not only are the batters the coldest, they’ve see the pitcher the least. So … why not let your starter just go as deep as he can and have a quick hook with your “opener” in the third or fourth inning? Ken Rosenthal investigates at The Athletic and tries to offer some answers.
  • And before we leave this topic, I’ll point out that some players aren’t huge fans. “It was weird,” said Angels second baseman Zack Cozart. “It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.” Bill Baer (NBC Sports) doesn’t agree, saying that being on the cutting edge is always met with issue and resentment. Shrug. Either way, I bet this does not become a thing (Paging #oldtakesexposed)
  • At Baseball is Fun today, I wrote up Jordan Hicks’ performance from last night, wherein he threw the FIVE fastest pitches of the season in one at-bat. He TWICE touched 105 MPH, and one of those two was 105.1 MPH. It’ll forever be impossible to be sure, but it’s possible that was the fastest pitch ever thrown in a Major League Baseball game (Yahoo Sports).
  • Also at Baseball is Fun, the Braves scored six runs in the bottom of the ninth inning yesterday – including five with two outs – to come from behind and stun the Marlins – there was just a 0.7% chance of winning entering the inning, according to FanGraphs.
  • The Rangers may well be officially “open for business,” and Evan Grant works through five players who could theoretically be on the move: Adrian Beltre (oh, how I love him!), Cole Hamels, Keone Kela, Mike Minor, and Jake Diekman. As far as I’m concerned, the Cubs probably don’t fit for anyone but Mike Minor, if he were willing to move and stay in the bullpen. If you recall, I was pining over Minor in the offseason, after the Royals converted him into a reliever to a great deal of success last season (2.55 ERA, 2.62 FIP, 2.1 WAR), but then the stupid Rangers went and signed him as a starter, and, well: 9 starts, 5.59 ERA, 4.44 FIP; 0.6 WAR. Dumb.
  • Although guys like Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant, and Ian Happ all made bee-lines to the Major Leagues, they are not actually among the fastest risers. In recent years, Bryce Harper, Jurikson Profar, and Mike Trout have all made the top 15. HOWEVER, when Juan Soto pinch hit for the Nationals on Sunday – at the ripe old age of 19 – he did so after just 122 Minor League games, the fewest since Alex Rodriguez (114 games) back in 1994. Soto is also the 7th youngest player to debut since then. FanGraphs has everything you want to know about him and the historic nature of his debut.
  • And tonight, he’ll get his first start:

  • And finally, Mike Petriello is wondering if the Astros’ rotation is making their case for the best ever. I say give them a few months, because I’m betting against it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some statistical signals there and it’s obviously a star-studded cast, but it seems we do this every year around May/June. Someone, some group, or some thing is always making their case for the best ever. But the thing about the best ever is that it doesn’t happen very often (except for the Cubs’ defense in 2016). We’ll see.

Author: Michael Cerami

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