What we're watching – June 2

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– The only five-game winner to start Monday was Todd Wellemeyer.
Tonight, we get aces Johan Santana, Tim Lincecum, Roy Halladay, Dan
Haren and Jake Peavy, along with Erik Bedard, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Rick
Porcello, A.J. Burnett, Ubaldo Jimenez and Joe Saunders. Plus, there
are seven-game winners Kevin Slowey and Bronson Arroyo, as well as Zach
Duke, Randy Wolf, Randy Wells and their sub-3.00 ERAs. In other words,
it’s a good night for pitching.

– Unfortunately, that’s going to make it hard to watch the two
starters making their major league debuts: Oakland’s Vin Mazzaro and
Philadelphia’s Antonio Bastardo. Mazzaro, 22, had a 2.38 ERA, 42 hits
allowed and a 44/17 K/BB ratio in 56 2/3 innings for Sacramento. I
suspect that he’ll be a long-term reliever, but he’s worth watching as
a starter with his low-90s fastball and slider.

Seeing Bastardo get the nod over Andrew Carpenter in Brett Myers’
place was a pleasant surprise. The 23-year-old lefty is hardly a sure
thing, but he has a very good changeup to complement an average
fastball. He had a 1.89 ERA and a 51/10 K/BB in 47 2/3 innings between
Double- and Triple-A to start the year.

– The AL’s only two teams with 30 wins will begin another series
tonight. This one will take place in New York after the Yankees won two
out of three in Texas least week. Vicente Padilla will return from the
DL to start for the Rangers. A.J. Burnett will get the ball for the
Yankees. Both right-handers have identical 3-2 records and ERAs in the
4.70s. Mark Teixeira will get another crack at his old team agter going
5-for-14 with two homers and five RBI in the series last week.

Game of the Night

Boston vs. Detroit – Matsuzaka, an 18-game winner last year,
searches again for his first victory of 2009 after giving up seven runs
over 10 innings in his first two starts back from the DL. The Tigers
will counter with Porcello, who has won five straight and lowered his
ERA from 6.23 to 3.48 in the process. As impressive as Porcello has
been, he’s mostly beaten up on weak teams. In his three starts against
the AL’s top five offenses, he’s 1-2 with a 5.06 ERA.

Evan Gattis undergoes surgery for hernia; recovery is 4-6 weeks

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Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle shares the bad news

One of the Astros’ big bats won’t be taking hacks when the Astros hold their first full workout on Feb. 23.

Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis recently underwent surgery to repair a hernia, the Chronicle has learned, taking away most of his spring training at a minimum. The recovery is four to six weeks but fortunately for Gattis and the Astros, the injury is not considered severe.

Gattis was working hard on his overall conditioning this winter, even telling MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart in late January that he had already dropped 18 pounds. It sounds like the big slugger might have gone a bit overboard with those workouts, and now he is in real danger of missing the first couple weeks of the 2016 regular season.

Gattis batted .246/.285/.463 with 27 home runs and 88 RBI in 153 games last season for the Astros. The 29-year-old is arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career and has a hearing with the Astros scheduled for February 16 to determine his salary for 2016. He requested $3.8 million and was offered $3 million when figures were exchanged a little over three weeks ago.

Suddenly the Astros’ front office might have a new talking point for those arbitrators.

Seung-Hwan Oh finally receives his work visa, will be on time for Cardinals camp

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At last check, new Cardinals reliever Seung-Hwan Oh was still awaiting a work visa from the United States Embassy in South Korea and there was some worry that he might not be able to arrive on time to spring training in Jupiter, Florida.

But that is now officially a non-story.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Oh has recieved his work visa and is expected to report to Cardinals camp next week along with the rest of the club’s pitchers and catchers. Oh might even show up a bit earlier than the Cardinals originally asked him to, per Goold.

Oh saved 357 games in 11 seasons between Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization before inking a one-year contract with St. Louis this winter. He also registered a stellar 1.81 ERA and 772 strikeouts across 646 total innings in Asia, earning the nickname “The Final Boss.”

Oh is expected to work in a setup role this year for Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.

John Lamb had back surgery in December, will likely get off to late start in 2016

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John Lamb was part of the Reds’ return package in last July’s Johnny Cueto trade and he had a strong showing at the Triple-A level in 2015. But the young left-hander posted a 5.80 ERA in a 10-start cup of coffee with Cincinnati late last season — his first 10 appearances as a major leaguer — and now comes word from MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that Lamb will probably have to get off to a late start in 2016.

Lamb underwent surgery in December to repair a herniated disc in his back — a surgery that went unreported by the Reds until Tuesday afternoon. Reds manager Bryan Price acknowledged on MLB Network that Lamb is behind the team’s other starting pitchers and will likely open the coming season on the disabled list. The hope is that he might be ready by mid-April.

It’s a small but frustrating blow for a rebuilding Reds team that will be looking to establish some foundational pieces in 2016. Once he is recovered, Lamb will be expected to fill the Reds’ fifth rotation spot behind Raisel Iglesias, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Michael Lorenzen.

This is going to be an ugly year for Cincinnati baseball fans.

Yu Darvish will report to spring training on time, hopes to begin mound work in March

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March 17. Most starting pitchers take 13-15 months to fully recover from that procedure, and the Rangers aren’t counting on Darvish until sometime this May.

His rehab so far has gone on without issue.

Darvish offered some very positive updates Tuesday to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram …

Darvish, 29, boasts a 3.27 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 83 career major league starts. He can also claim a whopping 680 strikeouts in 545 1/3 career major league innings.

Texas has him under contract for $10 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.