Rockies set to call up Carlos Gonzalez

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Earlier this week Matt Holliday talked about whether or not the A’s will end up trading him during the next two months, but in the meantime the Rockies are calling up the centerpiece of the deal that sent Holliday to Oakland.

Carlos Gonzalez is expected to join the Rockies in time for tonight’s
game after the 23-year-old, left-handed hitting outfielder batted
.339/.418/.630 with 10 homers, 29 total extra-base hits, and 59 RBIs in
48 games at Triple-A.

Those numbers are inflated quite a bit by the extremely
hitter-friendly environment at Colorado Springs, but .339/.418/.630 is
still damn good and he hit .316/.398/.541 on the road along with
.362/.439/.723 at home. Originally signed by Arizona as a 17-year-old
out of Venezuela in 2002, Gonzalez has already been the main prospect
on the move in trades for Dan Haren and Matt Holliday, which says
plenty about both his long-term upside and current flaws.

He’s hit .291 in 632 games as a minor leaguer and looks capable of
smacking 30 homers annually with Coors Field on his side, but aside
from his time at Triple-A he’s rarely walked and struck out quite a
bit, posting an ugly 446/156 K/BB ratio between rookie-ball, Single-A,
and Double-A. He also struggled mightily with the A’s last season,
hitting .242/.273/.361 with a hideous 81/13 K/BB ratio in 85 games.

On the other hand, Gonzalez has a very solid 73/44 K/BB ratio in 460
plate appearances at Triple-A, along with hitting .312/.385/.526. He’s
never going to draw a ton of walks, but if his control of the strike
zone at Triple-A is for real Gonzalez certainly looks capable of
developing above-average plate discipline and at the very least is
safely beyond the swing-at-everything career path that has doomed so
many promising prospects.

Dexter Fowler’s presence means that Gonzalez won’t be manning center
field in Colorado, but he rated well there last year according to
Ultimate Zone Rating and should be a strong defensive corner
outfielder. In terms of raw talent he’s among the most promising young
outfielders in baseball and if his newfound plate discipline is here to
stay Gonzalez’s second stint in the majors may last for a couple
decades.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.

Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery could share Cubs’ rotation spot in 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Mike Montgomery #38 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).

Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.

Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.

Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.