- Shohei Ohtani threw his first official bullpen session with the Angels on Thursday. He was impressive and displayed all four pitches (fastball, curve, slider, splitter) in his arsenal. He then took batting practice with the catchers. In other Ohtani news, the current plan is to use the 23-year-old as a designated hitter two-to-three times per week. Manager Mike Scioscia did acknowledge Ohtani’s greater impact will be felt as a starter rather than a hitter.
- From a pitcher who is making his MLB debut, to one who is trying to make a comeback. Former two-time Cy Young winner, Tim Lincecum, threw a 10-minute session in hopes to impress a team as Spring Training games fast approach. Lincecum, now 33, averaged 90-92 MPH on his fastball, topping out at 93 MPH. This is a big improvement from his average velocity of 88 MPH during his final big league season in 2016. During that final season, Lincecum posted a gaudy ERA of 9.16 over nine starts for the Angels.
- Eduardo Nunez has reportedly reached a deal to return to the Red Sox. Details of the contract are not finalized but it is believed to be a one-year deal with a club option for 2019. Nunez played 38 games for Boston after coming over in a trade with the Giants. He hit .321 with eight homers and six stolen bases in that span. He has a .299 average and 64 steals over the past two seasons, including a career high 40 swipes in 2016. He also offers position flexibility being eligible at second, third, and outfield in most fantasy formats.
- Andrew Cashner inked a two-year deal with Orioles. Cashner posted an impressive 3.40 ERA last season, good for ninth in the American League among qualifiers. However, his FIP was more than a full point higher at 4.61 and his K/9 was a lowly 4.6. He relied heavily on his 48.6% ground ball rate and will attempt to do the same in the hitter friendly confines of Camden Yards.
- According to a source, the Mets have reached a deal with lefty Jason Vargas. This news broke as I was writing up this piece! Vargas was 18-10 last season with a 4.10 ERA for the Royals. His 18 wins tied him for most in the league. Last season, Vargas posted a 2.22 ERA over his first 16 starts, including 12 wins. This earned him a spot on the AL All-Star roster. He finished the year with an ominous 6.66 ERA in his final 16 starts.
A couple more quick hitters:
- Matt Carpenter is likely to begin the year hitting third in the Cardinals lineup.
- Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson is reportedly ahead of schedule in his injury rehab.
- Jaime Garcia signed with the Blue Jays
- The Angels sixth spot in the rotation will be a battle between Parker Bridwell, Nick Tropeano, and JC Ramirez.
- Eugenio Suarez has reported to Reds camp with the best hairstyle of his life!
Baseball is back, rejoice!