Dodgers surprisingly tab Padilla for Opening Day

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers will soon name Vicente Padilla their Opening Day starter, which is a surprise to say the least given that the rotation also includes young studs Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley.
Padilla went 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA down the stretch for the Dodgers last season, but before that he was released by the Rangers after posting a 4.92 ERA in 147 innings. Even with his nice late-season run in Los Angeles included Padilla hasn’t had an ERA below 4.40 since way back in 2003, when he was a 25-year-old with the Phillies.
For comparison the 22-year-old Kershaw has a 3.36 ERA and 285 strikeouts in 279 career innings, while the 25-year-old Billingsley has a 3.55 ERA and 580 strikeouts in 634 career innings. Ultimately it doesn’t really matter, since everyone in the rotation will start 32-34 games if they remain healthy, but this sure seems like rewarding a mediocre veteran just for being a mediocre veteran.
Hiroki Kuroda is locked in as the Dodgers’ fourth starter, but the final rotation spot hasn’t been decided yet as Ramon Ortiz, Eric Stults, Russ Ortiz, Carlos Monasterios, and Charlie Haeger all battle for the gig. Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Dodgers are “shopping” Stults, however, which would seemingly indicate that he’s a long shot.

Report: Shohei Ohtani has sprained UCL in pitching elbow

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The Angels signed Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani for a $2.3 million signing bonus last weekend. They may have damaged goods on their hands. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Ohtani underwent a physical that revealed a first-degree sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament. As a result, he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on October 20. This was made known to teams after Ohtani entered MLB’s posting system, so it wasn’t like the Angels went into this blind.

Ohtani’s report said, “Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists, he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program.” It also said Ohtani “will most likely be available to start his throwing program approximately a month from the PRP.”

Passan notes that the report also mentioned that a “small free body” floats in Ohtani’s elbow near his UCL.

Ohtani isn’t without other injuries. He battled hamstring and ankle issues throughout 2017 and underwent right ankle surgery back in October. Thankfully for the Angels, this diagnosis is about as good as it could be considering the circumstances. However, if Ohtani does exacerbate his UCL issue, he may ultimately need Tommy John surgery at some point, which would take him out of action for at least a year.