Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s time is coming

On May 14, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. posted a picture at JFK International Airport in New York. The Toronto Blue Jays were scheduled to play a two-game series at Citi Field against the Mets starting the next day.

Was this finally the moment when the number two rated prospect according to MLB.com was being called up to the big leagues?

No. He posted an old photo and fooled everyone on twitter who were desperately trying to figure out if the son of Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero would play in the bigs yet.

Guerrero Jr. is just 19-years-old, but so was Mike Trout and Bryce Harper when they debuted. And neither of them had a season as dominant in the minors as Guerrero is having now. If he continues to hit at the absurd rate, who is to say he won’t make an appearance for the Blue Jays this season?

As of May 20, after 39 games, Guerrero Jr.is batting .421 with an OPS of 1.169. He leads the Eastern League of Double-A in both of those categories as well as total bases and doubles. He also leads the league in RBIs with 45 in just 39 games. In a 162-game season, that is on pace to over 200 RBIs.

His power is unquestioned. There is even video of hitting a home run the opposite way off of a tee. So why wait until next year to bring up the most exciting prospect still in the minors?

The Toronto Blue Jays are already 10 games out of first place in the AL East with a 22-25 record. With the Yankees and Red Sox playing at such high levels with highly talented rosters, there is little-to-no hope of Toronto competing for the division.

With their lackluster pitching staff, 4.61 team ERA, and inconsistent hitting aside from Josh Donaldson, a wild card spot is also seemingly far off.

Donaldson will become a free agent after this season. The right action to take for Toronto looks to be to trade the former AL MVP for some young assets and then replace Donaldson at third base with their top prospect.

Guerrero Jr. has the potential to be the future face of the Blue Jays. He is hitting about as good as possible in the minors, so if a deal for Donaldson occurs, it would open the door for Guerrero to get some early experience in the majors.

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Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s time is coming

On May 14, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. posted a picture at JFK International Airport in New York. The Toronto Blue Jays were scheduled to play a two-game series at Citi Field against the Mets starting the next day.

Was this finally the moment when the number two rated prospect according to MLB.com was being called up to the big leagues?

No. He posted an old photo and fooled everyone on twitter who were desperately trying to figure out if the son of Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero would play in the bigs yet.

Guerrero Jr. is just 19-years-old, but so was Mike Trout and Bryce Harper when they debuted. And neither of them had a season as dominant in the minors as Guerrero is having now. If he continues to hit at the absurd rate, who is to say he won’t make an appearance for the Blue Jays this season?

As of May 20, after 39 games, Guerrero Jr.is batting .421 with an OPS of 1.169. He leads the Eastern League of Double-A in both of those categories as well as total bases and doubles. He also leads the league in RBIs with 45 in just 39 games. In a 162-game season, that is on pace to over 200 RBIs.

His power is unquestioned. There is even video of hitting a home run the opposite way off of a tee. So why wait until next year to bring up the most exciting prospect still in the minors?

The Toronto Blue Jays are already 10 games out of first place in the AL East with a 22-25 record. With the Yankees and Red Sox playing at such high levels with highly talented rosters, there is little-to-no hope of Toronto competing for the division.

With their lackluster pitching staff, 4.61 team ERA, and inconsistent hitting aside from Josh Donaldson, a wild card spot is also seemingly far off.

Donaldson will become a free agent after this season. The right action to take for Toronto looks to be to trade the former AL MVP for some young assets and then replace Donaldson at third base with their top prospect.

Guerrero Jr. has the potential to be the future face of the Blue Jays. He is hitting about as good as possible in the minors, so if a deal for Donaldson occurs, it would open the door for Guerrero to get some early experience in the majors.

Sho-Time: Ohtani becoming must-see TV

Yes, we’re only 10 games into the season. So far, though, Los Angeles Angels’ star two-way player Shohei Ohtani is living up to the hype.

Many were skeptical of his abilities after a spring training performance that left much to be desired. He started two games, and lasted just 2.2 total innings. He gave up nine runs, eight of them earned, on nine hits and three home runs. He also walked two hitters and hit one. On the other side of the ball, he earned just four hits in 32 at-bats, good for a .125 batting average. He walked three times and drove in one run.

Ohtani’s slow start fed fans’ worries about his ability to successfully make the transition from Japan to the United States. Some even thought he should start the season in Triple A Salt Lake.

https://twitter.com/mconches7/status/978978597686923266

Enter the regular season.

Ohtani made the Angels’ Opening Day roster despite his underwhelming spring, and has since performed like a completely different player. Most recently, he dazzled in his first home start Sunday afternoon against the Oakland Athletics. He pitched seven shutout innings, allowing just one hit and one walk, and struck out 12 hitters. Not to mention the fact that he retired the first 19 hitters he faced. Through the first 10 games of the season, Ohtani made two starts. He gave up three earned runs on four hits in 13 innings, against 18 strikeouts. He trails only Cole Hamels, Gerrit Cole, Patrick Corbin, and Clayton Kershaw for the league lead in punchouts.

He has a nasty splitter to thank for his early success.

He’s keeping hitters off-balance with exceptional command of his offspeed pitches after getting ahead in the count with his borderline-100 mph fastball.

Don’t forget, Ohtani can hit too.

He earned 7 hits in his first 18 regular season at-bats, including three home runs and seven RBIs. Through 10 games, he’s slashing .389/.421/.889 with a 1.310 OPS.

Yes, it’s early. But so far, Ohtani is proving the critics wrong. He’s playing as well as anyone in baseball right now, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

 

Tigers vs. Indians series preview 2018: Detroit rolls into Cleveland for key 4-game series

The Detroit Tigers will face the Cleveland Indians in a big four-game series starting Monday evening from Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.   On the heels of sweeping the White Sox in Chicago, something of the Tigers have not done since September of 2011, Detroit is a confident bunch heading to Cleveland.

Now, how big a series can really be in April can always be debated, however, for the Tigers, playing well against Cleveland could set the tone for the entire season. Yes, the entire season! Why? That is simple. The Indians have dominated the American League Central for the last two seasons, and they have steamrolled the Tigers in the process.

Detroit has lost seven in a row to the Indians and 11 of their last 12 overall. It’s a good thing for the Tigers that Monday night’s starter Francisco Liriano has no recall of those defeats. The veteran is in his first season wearing the Old English D, and if he can have a repeat performance of his first outing, the Tigers have a good shot at winning their fourth consecutive game.

Liriano was dominant in his first start of 2018 against the Royals on last Monday. The lefty pitched 6.2 innings, giving up just one run on four hits while striking out three Kansas City batters.

One plus for the Tigers will be that the Indians will be without right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall. Chisenhall, who has been a Tigers killer over the past few seasons, was placed on the 10-day disabled list Sunday afternoon with a strained right calf. Cleveland will replace Chisenhall on the roster with Tyler Naquin.

Right now the Tigers don’t care who is in the lineup for the Tribe, they just want to get a win. Here is how the pitching matchup for the series is scheduled to break down.

Monday will see Francisco Liriano (1-0, 1.35 ERA) take the hill to face the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber (0-1, 2.40).

On Tuesday Matthew Boyd (0-0, 1.50 ERA) will face Josh Tomlin (0-0, 24.00 ERA), followed by two pitchers who have been struggling a bit so far in 2018 when Detroit’s Jordan Zimmermann (0-0 8.71 ERA) squares off against Carlos Carrasco (0-0 5.40 ERA) on Wednesday evening. 

The final meeting of the four game set will feature Detroit’s Michael Fulmer (1-1, 0.68 ERA) opposing Trevor Bauer (0-0, 2.0 ERA). First pitch for each game is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. ET. 

Fulmer, Tigers defeat White Sox 6-1, eye series sweep tomorrow

Michael Fulmer is showing manager Ron Gardenhire and Detroit Tigers fans everywhere that he is ready to be the ace of the pitching staff. For the second straight outing, Fulmer was lights out on the mound. Following up on his dominant performance against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Fulmer was even better Saturday against the White Sox.

The hard-throwing righty pitched 5 ⅓ innings, giving up six hits while striking out four Sox batters. More importantly, he didn’t give up a run, and has only given up one run in 13 ⅓ innings this season. With this performance, Fulmer lowered his ERA to 0.68 on the season.  

Dixon Machado and Miguel Cabrera continued their hot start to the season. In the top of the third inning with two outs, Cabrera singled into right field driving in two runs. He later drove in a third run on a sacrifice fly. Machado finished the day going 2 for 5, including a double and two RBI.

The other bright spot for Detroit was once again their bullpen. Joe Jimenez looked overpowering, which is a great sign for Detroit. Jimenez has given up just one hit in 3 ⅓ innings so far in 2018, and has an ERA of 0.00.

Sure, it is still early, but winning the first two games on the road for this team is a big deal. If the Tigers can pull out the win tomorrow and complete the sweep of Chicago, it would send them to Cleveland with a lot of confidence.

The Tigers will send their veteran newcomer Mike Fiers to the mound Sunday while the White Sox are scheduled to start Reynaldo Lopez. First pitch is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. ET.

Detroit did make one roster move following today’s game. The optioned pitcher Warwick Saupold to Triple-A Toledo. The move was to make room for Fiers’ activation from the 10-day disabled list.

Tigers vs. White Sox 2018: Live stream, TV info, Vegas odds, and prediction

The Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox will face off in Game 2 of their three-game series Saturday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois.

The Tigers earned their second win of the season on Thursday afternoon, spoiling Chicago’s home opener. Detroit’s wild 9-7 win in extra innings had all of the excitement of an old fashioned baseball offensive shootout, but the weather made it feel more like a Lions vs. Bears game in mid December.

Jordan Zimmermann was less than stellar in his second performance of the season. Zimmermann failed to make it to the fifth inning as he lasted just 4 ⅓ innings before being sent to the showers. When all was said and done for the Tigers right hander, he surrendering six runs, nine hits and one walk and now has an ERA north of eight.  The positive for the Tigers is that the bullpen once again looked solid, especially Daniel Norris.

Norris went 3 ⅓ innings, giving up just one hit and one run while striking out six, and more importantly keeping the Tigers in the game.

Now the Tigers will hand the ball to Michael Fulmer in Game 2 of this three game set. Fulmer was lights out in his first game of the season against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The hard throwing righty pitched eight strong innings giving up just four hits and one run, but in the end, he was the hard luck loser as the Tigers fell by the final score of 1-0.

Fulmer will be opposed by Chicago’s Lucas Giolito. Giolito pitched six innings against the Royals on March 31 but did not get a decision in the White Sox 4-3 win.

Las Vegas oddsmakers have the White Sox listed as the favorite at -115, with the come back on the Tigers set at +105. The over/under run total is 8.  

Prediction: The Tigers owe Michael Fulmer. If he can pitch half as well as he did against the Pirates last week, Detroit has a great chance to get their second win in a row against the ChiSox.

Pick: Detroit +105

Fans can watch Saturday’s Tigers vs White Sox game several ways. The game will air live in Detroit on Fox Sports Detroit and stream live through the Fox Sports Go App. The game will also air on WGN 9 in Chicago. First pitch is slated for 2 p.m. ET.

Detroit Tigers: Youth movement should give fans plenty of optimism

Not much is expected from the Detroit Tigers in 2018, that is until you listen to all of the MLB experts. While the season is still in its infancy, Tigers fans, despite a 2-4 start, should feel optimistic about this season and beyond, and here is why.

Jeimer Candelario, Niko Goodrum, and Dixon Machado may not be household names right now, but these three youngsters are showing some serious potential. Candelario came over to Detroit last season from the Chicago Cubs as part of the trade that sent catcher Alex Avila and Justin Wilson to Chicago. Detroit also acquired 19-year-old prospect Isaac Paredes in the deal, who along with Candelario is coming off of a great season of winter ball.

Candelario was a high prospect for the Cubs organization, however, playing third base behind a guy named Kris Bryant isn’t the best way to try to break into the big leagues. The verdict is still out, but this trade looks like a winner for Detroit as Candelario has shown great glove work in the field and a great eye at the plate.

When the Tigers signed Niko Goodrum, they knew they were getting a utility player, but Goodrum may be the best around in terms of flexibility. Goodrum has already played shortstop and first base so far in 2018 and looked comfortable at each position.

His shining moment of the early 2018 season came on Thursday in Chicago. Not in the starting lineup, Goodrum came off the bench after Miguel Cabrera injured his ankle and went 2 for 5 with a home run as he helped lead the charge for the Tigers comeback 9-7 win in 10 innings.

Finally, there is Dixon Machado. Machado has been in the Tigers organization since 2015 and after three seasons of being a role player, he is getting his shot as a starter. When the Tigers traded Ian Kinsler to the Angels, the second base job was handed to Machado and it is his to lose. Through six games, Machado is hitting .280 and has five RBI.

The Tigers are hoping that along with these three rising stars, pitchers Michael Fulmer, Matthew Boyd and right fielder Nicholas Castellanos will help lead the charge for the new look Tigers to once again becoming a contender in the AL Central.

Detroit has not had a youth movement since 2006, and that season they went to the World Series. While the Tigers are most likely not going to make it to the Fall Classic this season, they are confident that a return trip isn’t far off. 

 

 

 

Lighten up, Brian Dozier

Just a heads up, I’m an Orioles fan. I’m willing to take any flak from you journalistic curmudgeons out there.

Twins‘ second baseman Brian Dozier is freaking out over Orioles’ catcher Chance Sisco‘s decision to bunt against the shift in the ninth inning of Minnesota’s 7-0 win on Sunday.

Baseball Twitter isn’t having it.

Dozier said he thought about saying something to Sisco at second, but instead decided to let Baltimore’s “veteran leadership” handle it.

But what is there to say?

Pitcher José Berríos had already given up a hit, so it’s not like Sisco was being a shithead (pronounced shi-theed).

The Orioles proceeded to load the bases with a Chris Davis walk and a Manny Machado single.

They didn’t score, but one swing of the bat could have changed the game, or at least started to.

Anyway, Dozier can calm down. Sisco was trying to set his team up to win the game. It’s early, but a win is a win, especially in the AL East.

The Best Pitches from Ohtani’s Impressive Debut

Shohei Ohtani made his major league pitching debut Sunday afternoon, and it was nothing short of magical. Aside from a three run home run given up in the second inning, Ohtani was essentially mistake free against the Oakland A’s in the Los Angeles Angels’ 7-4 victory. He displayed a variety of different pitches, all with impressive movement and velocity, and notched the first of likely many wins this season. His final stat line read six innings pitched, three earned runs on three hits, one walk and six strikeouts. He also became the first Angels pitcher since 1965 to record six innings and collect more strikeouts than baserunners. Here’s how he did it.

Ohtani has three above average pitches at his disposal, a fastball, slider and splitter. His fastball usually lives in the mid to upper nineties, but has the ability to reach triple digits if need be. On Sunday, Ohtani’s average fastball velocity was 97.8 mph, hitting 100 mph three times and 99 mph nine. Here is his best at bat of the day, a three pitch gem to A’s first baseman Matt Olson.

Olson, the A’s number three hitter, completely whiffs at two straight 99 mph fastballs on the inside half of the plate, then looks helpless as he half swings on a 90 mph splitter in the dirt.

Oakland players swinging at balls in the dirt was a common them of the game on Sunday, as Ohtani consistently used his splitter to produce swings and misses. Here is Ohtani’s first strikeout of the game, courtesy of A’s shortstop Marcus Semien.

Later in the third inning, Ohtani once again used the splitter low and away to get the strikeout and end the inning against Oakland’s third baseman Matt Chapman.

Even when he missed with his location, Ohtani’s stuff was too electric to hit. Early in the second, Ohtani made A’s slugger Khris Davis look absolutely silly with this slider.

While patience is a virtue, it’s hard not to overreact to what we saw this Easter from Ohtani. He kept hitters guessing with a good diversity of pitches, got great movement from both his splitter and his slider, and consistently placed his high nineties fastball wherever he wanted. He played like a number-one starter Sunday, and could be the difference maker for an Angels team with World Series aspirations.

 

When will Greg Holland be signed?

It is March 26, less than a week before Opening Day 2018.

Free agent closer Greg Holland remains unsigned.

Holland enjoyed a mostly successful 2017 campaign with the Colorado Rockies, his first season since undergoing Tommy John surgery. He converted 41 out of 45 save opportunities, which left him tied with Los Angeles Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen for the National League lead. He finished with a 3.61 ERA in 57.1 IP, which skyrocketed after an atrocious 13.50 August ERA. He also struck out 70 hitters while allowing 27 walks.

Holland’s 41 saves were a huge factor in the Rockies’ first postseason berth since 2009, and, with the exception of his three blown saves in August, he was solid all season long.

So why hasn’t he found a new home yet?

When teams look at Greg Holland’s 2017 season, there are good and bad aspects alike.

The Good: His 41 saves, sub-4.00 ERA, and 70 strikeouts.

The Bad: Overall, the second half of his season.

Holland was dominant during the first half of the season, and earned a spot on the NL All-Star team. He was an entirely different pitcher after the Mid-Summer Classic, though, and that’s what’s most likely scaring front offices away.

In 33.1 innings before the All-Star Break, he gave up six earned runs on 18 hits, good for a 1.62 ERA, and struck out 43 hitters. After the All-Star Break, he gave up 17 earned runs on 22 hits in nine less innings. His ERA was 6.38.

My worry when it comes to Greg Holland is that his arm could be shot. The Rockies had to rely on him a lot during the first half of his first season back from Tommy John surgery, giving him 29 save opportunities, and I think the workload caught up with him after the All-Star Break. He lost velocity on his fastball, which in turn made his fastball and slider more alike, and made him easier to hit. Unfortunately for Holland, I think teams would be wise to stay away from him.