This is a bummer: because Jason Heyward has a bum thumb, he won’t be in the lineup for tonight’s Braves-Nationals game and thus we won’t get a chance to see a matchup between the year’s most-hyped rookie hitter and most-hyped rookie pitcher.
Note, I said “most-hyped” rookie hitter, not the best. Because, as I noted this morning, Heyward has been on a godawful skid lately, most likely due to his thumb, which is preventing him from gripping the bat properly, but partially from some expected rookie regression as well. Brennan Boesch has been the best rookie hitter.
Still, I would have liked to see the matchup for history’s sake (I predict Heyward will turn out to be the best of this year’s rookie hitters in his career). Not that we won’t get to see a ton of Heyward-Strasburg over the next several years in the NL East, of course.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.