Goldschmidt Goes Deep Three Times
Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt went 4-for-5 and drilled three home runs against the Brewers on Friday. He came up to bat again in the ninth inning with an opportunity to swat a fourth home run but was denied the chance when the Brewers elected to intentionally walk him. All three bombs sailed well past the left field wall at Miller Park in Milwaukee and each came off of a different pitcher. He victimized starter Freddy Peralta along with relievers Taylor Williams and Jacob Barnes. Goldschmidt also singled in the contest, which was his second in a Cardinals uniform.
Goldschmidt went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts on Opening Day but turned the tables on Day Two. It was the second time in his career that Goldschmidt whacked three homers in a game -- he did it against the Cubs at Wrigley field during the 2017 season. His fantasy owners are happy to see him start the campaign strong considering his deep slump to begin last season.
The Cardinals traded starting pitcher Luke Weaver, young catcher Carson Kelly, infielder Andrew Young and a competitive balance draft pick to the Diamondbacks to acquire Goldschmidt early in the offseason and then signed him to a five-year, $130 million contract extension, which is the largest contract ever handed out by the Cardinals, topping the seven-year, $120 million deal given to Matt Holliday in 2010.
Upton Goes Down With a Toe Injury
Angels outfielder Justin Upton will miss the next 8-12 weeks due to a turf toe injury. He hyper-extended his left big toe while running into the outfield wall in an attempt to make a catch in a Cactus League game last weekend. He received an MRI that was reviewed by a panel of doctors who estimated he will miss up to three months of action, which would put him out until late June. He will wear a walking boot for the next month. A major injury is a first for Upton, who has been one of the most durable players in the majors for the last decade. He has garnered enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title every year since 2009 but he won't this year.
Losing Upton for 8-12 weeks is a major blow to his fantasy owners. His average draft position this spring was pick number 79 in Yahoo drafts, which would make him a sixth-round pick in standard 12-team leagues. Upton was expected to bat third in the Angels' batting order right behind Mike Trout. The club is also playing without designated hitter Shohei Ohtani for at least the first month of the season while he recovers from Tommy John surgery. Justin Bour has moved up to the three-hole in the batting order in the absence of the two sluggers, while Peter Bourjos and Brian Goodwin are likely to platoon in left field until Upton returns.
The Angels may try to make a trade to replace Upton, although that may be easier said than done this early in the season -- not many teams will be willing to part with a quality outfielder just a few days after Opening Day. Perhaps the club would be willing to take on another team's bad contract. The Mariners would likely be happy to shed Jay Bruce's contract and Matt Kemp is a very expensive fourth outfielder for the Reds. Both of them would be big upgrades over the Bourjos/Goodwin combo, at least offensively.
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Knebel Headed for Surgery
Brewers closer Corey Knebel will undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and miss the entire 2019 season. Knebel has actually been pitching with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow for the last five years but the tear worsened this spring and Knebel decided it was finally time to have it surgically repaired or replaced. Doctors gave him the option of resting the elbow and potentially returning to action later this season. The risk with that course of action was that rest may not allow the elbow to heal sufficiently, which means he would have to get the surgery anyway and miss not only this season but next year as well. Knebel opted to avoid that risk and get the surgery now so he could be ready to return to action early next season.
Knebel, 27, burst into fantasy prominence in 2017 when he saved 39 games with a 1.78 ERA and 126 strikeouts in 76 innings. He was able to maintain that elite strikeout rate last year but other than that his performance declined -- he saved only 16 games with a 3.58 ERA in 55 1/3 innings. The loss of Knebel will force the Brewers to use high-leverage relief ace Josh Hader as their closer for the time being until another option presents itself. They could wait for the injured Jeremy Jeffress (shoulder) to return to action, or they could sign free agent closer Craig Kimbrel.
Jeffress is suffering from a sore right shoulder and only recently resumed a throwing program. He is expected to miss at least the next two weeks and could be out much longer. Jeffress was fantastic last year, registering a 1.29 ERA with 15 saves and 89 strikeouts in 76 2/3 innings. The Brewers are believed to be in contact with Kimbrel, who is still holding out for a lucrative long-term contract. If Kimbrel is willing to drop his demands into a realistic range the Brewers would be his best chance to step right into a ninth-inning job on a contending team. He saved 42 games with a 2.74 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings last year for the Red Sox but faltered somewhat down the stretch.
NL Quick Hits: Diamondbacks starter Robbie Ray fanned nine batters in five innings while allowing three runs against the Dodgers... Dodgers starter Ross Stripling tossed 5 1/3 shutout frames while punching out five against the Diamondbacks... Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain left the game after jamming his left thumb on a slide into second base. X-rays were deemed unnecessary and he should return to action as soon as Saturday... Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings versus the Brewers, with the big blow being a three-run bomb by Ryan Braun... Brewers starter Freddy Peralta let in four runs in three-plus innings against the Cardinals, including a two-run homer by Paul Goldschmidt... Cardinals reliever Andrew Miller allowed a solo shot to Christian Yelich while makings his debut with his new team... Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer in Friday’s loss to the Cardinals... Cardinals reliever Alex Reyes pitched a clean inning and averaged 97.3 mph on his fastball. He missed almost all of 2017 and 2018 with arm injuries... Reigning NL MVP Christian Yelich went 2-for-3 with a solo homer, a walk, and two runs scored Friday versus the Cardinals... Rockies starter German Marquez held the Marlins to just one run over six innings in Friday’s 6-1 victory over the Marlins in Miami... Marlins starter Trevor Richards fired six innings of one-run ball in a no-decision against the Rockies on Friday... Sergio Romo gave up four runs while snaring just one out in his first game with the Marlins. This was not a save chance as the Marlins already trailed when he entered the game but the bad outing won't help his chances of earning the closer role in Miami... Rockies infielder Ryan McMahon went 1-for-2 with a double, two walks, and two runs scored Friday against the Marlins. He has started both of the Rockies first two games this year while Garrett Hampson watched from the bench... Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon went 3-for-5 with two RBI, a stolen base, and a run scored in a win over the Marlins... Marlins outfielder Curtiss Granderson hit a solo home run against the Rockies... Padres starter Joey Lucchesi struck out seven over 5 1/3 scoreless innings in a win over the Giants... Padres closer Kirby Yates earned his second save in two days with a scoreless ninth against the Giants. It wasn't smooth though as he loaded the bases by allowing a single, a walk and a hit batsman... Giants starter Derek Holland surrendered three runs in four innings against the Padres... Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. doubled and walked against the Giants... Dodgers ace starter Clayton Kershaw will throw a three-inning simulated game on Saturday... Marlins shortstop prospect Osiris Johnson will miss the next 5-6 months following surgery to repair a tibial stress fracture in his right leg. He was a second-round draft pick last year... Giants acquired RHP Jesus Ozoria from the Mariners for C Tom Murphy.
AL Quick Hits: Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi served up three homers and six earned runs in five innings against the Mariners... Matt Barnes snared the Red Sox's first save of the season by fanning two in a perfect ninth inning against the Mariners. Barnes and Ryan Brasier could share the closer role in Boston early in the season until one of them runs away with the job... Mariners starter Yusei Kikuchi surrendered three runs -- two earned -- in six innings against the Red Sox. He was in line for his first MLB victory but the bullpen couldn't hold a three-run lead for him... Facing his former team the Astros in his Rays debut, Charlie Morton notched the victory after allowing two runs over five innings of work... Astros starter Gerrit Cole yielded four runs — one earned — over six innings and took the loss Friday against the Rays... Rays infielder Yandy Diaz went 2-for-4 with a solo homer as the Rays topped the Astros 4-2 on Friday. He came into the season with just one homer in 303 career plate appearances despite having one of the highest average exit velocities (and one of the lowest launch angles) in the league... Jose Alvarado tossed a scoreless ninth inning against the Astros to deliver his first save of the season. He is the favorite for saves in Tampa Bay but they could use a closer committee... Rays outfielder Tommy Pham went 1-for-3 with an RBI single, a walk, a run scored, and a stolen base in Friday’s win over the Astros... Astros outfielder Michael Brantley finished 2-for-4 with a two-run double in a loss to the Rays... Tigers starter Matt Boyd allowed four runs (three earned) but struck out 10 batters in five innings against the Blue Jays... Tigers outfielder Nicholas Castellanos went 2-for-4 with a double and a triple in a shut out loss to the Blue Jays... Blue Jays starter Matt Shoemaker struck out seven hitters while firing seven shutout innings against the Tigers. His next start will come against the weak lineup of the Orioles... Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak went 2-for-4 with two RBI against the Tigers... Blue Jays shortstop Freddy Galvis went 2-for-3 and drove in a pair of runs... Astros shortstop Carlos Correa (neck) won't play on Saturday but could make his season debut as soon as Sunday... Mariners outfielder Mallex Smith hit a leadoff homer, delivered a sac fly, walked and stole a base against the Red Sox. Home runs will be rare for the speedster, who missed most of spring training with a shoulder injury... Mariners acquired C Tom Murphy from the Giants for RHP Jesus Ozoria... Tigers pitching prospect Franklin Perez will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks with right shoulder tendinitis... Indians signed OF Cameron Maybin to a minor league contract... Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons delivered two hits including a go-ahead two-run single in the top of the eighth against the Athletics... Angels starter Matt Harvey turned in a quality start in his Angels debut, allowing two runs over six innings against the A's... Athletics starter Marco Estrada was denied a win after shutting out the Angels for six innings... Angels outfielder Mike Trout went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI in a win over the Athletics... Athletics designated hitter Khris Davis hit another home run against the Angels and now has three dongs in his first four games... Mariners closer Hunter Strickland took a blown save and a loss after giving up a three-run homer to Boston's Mitch Moreland on Friday. Strickland complained of shoulder tightness after the game and might be headed for an MRI... New Mariners outfielder Domingo Santana went 2-for-3 with a home run and two walks against the Red Sox. He now owns three longballs and leads the majors with 10 RBI.