Even if the Cardinals turn to Allen Craig as Albert Pujols’ replacement they may still have to find someone else to start on Opening Day.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that Craig underwent right knee surgery before Thanksgiving and “the club is braced for the possibility that he won’t be available” for the beginning of the season.
According to Goold the injury dates back to Craig crashing into the wall at Minute Maid Park in Houston and the surgery involved having “a couple screws placed in his right kneecap to repair the damage.”
Craig played and played well through the injury, with a big September followed by four postseason homers, but his recovery timetable is expected to be 4-6 months. That would seemingly make him unlikely to return before mid-April and any kind of setback could cost him most of May as well.
Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.
Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.
The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.
Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.
Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.
There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.
Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.