Bronson Arroyo expected to make Game 1 start for Reds in very unfavorable matchup with Phillies

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Bronson Arroyo tossed seven innings of one-run ball against the Astros last night in his final start of the season and John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that after the game the veteran right-hander “talked like a guy counting on starting Game 1 of the NLDS”:

It’s going to be in a hostile environment, probably Philly. I’m going to have to be on my A game to beat those guys. I think if you ask anyone we’d rather face anyone but Philly. But whoever comes along we’ve got to beat them.

Fay notes that the Phillies would be a particularly difficult matchup for Arroyo because he struggles against left-handed hitters and their lineup is loaded with potent left-handed bats in Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Raul Ibanez, plus switch-hitters Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins.
Arroyo is 17-10 with a 3.88 ERA in 33 starts overall this season, but that includes holding righties to a .185 batting average and .576 OPS while lefties hit .285 with a .786 OPS. And his career splits are similarly extreme, with a .684 OPS versus righties and an .819 OPS versus lefties.
Perhaps not surprisingly Arroyo is 1-5 with a 5.54 ERA in eight career outings against Philadelphia, although he hasn’t faced the Phillies since 2008.

Video: Andrew Toles hammers grand slam in Cactus League win

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Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.

Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).

Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.

David Price’s season debut could be pushed back to May

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David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.

Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.

The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.