Shohei Ohtani Named Opening Day Starter
All-Star, MVP, and now Opening Day starter. Shohei Ohtani will officially make the Opening Day start for the Angels on April 7 against the Astros in Anaheim, manager Joe Maddon announced Friday. It’s the first time in his career that he’ll take the mound to open the season. The 27-year-old two-way star will also bat as the designated hitter for the season opener. He’ll be allowed to remain in the lineup even after his outing on the mound is complete after the league and MLBPA agreed to implement the ‘Ohtani rule.’ The rule states that if a starting pitcher serves as the designated hitter, they will not have to leave the lineup even after being replaced on the mound.
Ohtani is coming off a tremendous season, earning American League MVP honors after producing on the mound and at the plate. He finished the season with nine wins, a 3.18 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 156 strikeouts over 130 1/3 innings. It was Ohtani’s first season back on the mound after undergoing Tommy John surgery in October of 2018. He made two brief appearances to begin the shortened 2020 season but was ultimately shut down from throwing. He’ll lead a starting pitching staff that includes Noah Syndergaard, Patrick Sandoval, Michael Lorenzen, and Jose Suarez. The team will likely go with a six-man rotation, with Jaime Barria and rookie Reid Detmers competing for the final spot. The pitching version of Ohtani is coming off the board in Yahoo fantasy drafts at pick 72.1 as the 19th starting pitcher. Whether he pays off that draft cost likely comes down to how many more innings the team is willing to let him go.
At the plate, Ohtani hit .257/.372/.592 with 46 home runs, 103 runs scored, 100 RBI, and 26 stolen bases, earning his first Silver Slugger award. After an incredible first half, Ohtani struggled down the stretch, slashing .229/.382/.458 after the All-Star break. Little lineup protection might have had something to do with it as the team was missing Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon. The hitting version of Ohtani is currently being taken as the 13th player off the board in Yahoo fantasy leagues with an average pick of 12.3. With a better lineup around him this season, that could prove to be a bargain.
DODGERS GIVE ROBERTS A THREE-YEAR EXTENSION
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts agreed to a three-year extension to remain with the team through the 2025 season. Since taking over as the team’s skipper in 2016, Roberts has produced a 542-329 record that has resulted in five National League West titles and one World Series win. Roberts and the Dodgers are coming off a 106-56 regular season and a National League Championship Series loss to the Braves. They’re well prepared for another deep playoff run after adding 2020 NL MVP Freddie Freeman. Roberts went as far as to guarantee Los Angeles would win the 2022 World Series title on “The Dan Patrick Show,” stating, “Put it on record.”
HUMIDOR COMING TO ALL 30 BALLPARKS
Eno Sarris of The Athletic reported Friday that all 30 teams will have humidors installed at their ballparks this season. Humidors have been used to regulate the humidity levels in the environment baseballs are stored. Up til now, only ten teams had been utilizing a humidor. In cities with lower humidity levels, such as Arizona and Toronto, we’ve seen a slight shift toward more pitching-friendly environments in Chase Field and Rogers Centre since implementing a humidor. In more humid areas such as San Francisco and Miami, the humidor should produce drier baseballs, perhaps leading to more offensive production. It’ll be something worth tracking through the season.
Quick Hits: Ronald Acuna Jr. is targeting the first week of May for his return to the Braves lineup in a hybrid designated hitter/outfield role... Trevor Story will be away from Red Sox camp for a few days for the birth of his child... Adley Rutschman hopes to resume hitting and throwing in about a week... Ian Happ hopes to return to the outfield next week... Major League Baseball is hoping to have a decision by April 16 regarding possible disciplinary action against Trevor Bauer... The A’s are re-signing Jed Lowrie to a one-year contract... The Rays acquired Harold Ramirez from the Cubs for Esteban Quiroz... Eric Lauer will make his spring debut Saturday against the Mariners... Evan Longoria has yet to play this spring due to a sore right index finger... Kevin Kiermaier was scratched from the Rays lineup on Friday due to left groin soreness... Blue Jays infield prospect Jordan Groshans is expected to be sidelined for a couple of weeks with a strained oblique... The Cardinals placed Alex Reyes on the 60-day injured list... Jordan Hicks threw a live batting practice session on Friday... Joe Kelly is 2-3 weeks behind the other White Sox pitchers in camp... The Guardians placed Cody Morris on the 60-day injured list with a right shoulder strain... The Phillies optioned Scott Kingery to minor league camp... David Bote has resumed some light hitting and fielding... The Giants optioned Jaylin Davis to Triple-A... The A’s optioned Vimael Machin to Triple-A... The Cardinals purchased the contract of Aaron Brooks on Friday...