The Cardinals may alter their rotation to give Jaime Garcia more home starts

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Jaime Garcia has stunk on ice away from Busch Stadium this year — he’s 2-5 with a 6.19 ERA away from home and a 2-2 with a 2.63 in St. Louis — so Mike Matheny is thinking of doing something about it:

Matheny said he would always “consider” changes to the rotation that could involve shifting Garcia to more home starts. But for now, he and the Cardinals will try to continue to solve the mystery as they push toward the playoffs.

“I’m not going to tell you one way or another,” Matheny said when asked about potential changes. “We’re going to continue to work at it, even though we can’t really define it. We’ll see what happens. Right now we just go on the mindset that we can do something to help fix it.”

I liked that Matheny also went all Norman Dale with it and noted that “it’s 60 feet, six inches” from rubber to home on the road just like it is at home.  Home/road stuff like this is always confusing given that it’s the same game. I know it’s a real thing for some guys, but I think that — separate and apart from talking about park effects which are a different subject — home/road splits gets talked up way more than they should. Probably because they’re so easily available.

Starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani will pinch-hit and pinch-run for the Angels in 2018

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The Angels’ bench is looking woefully thin this winter — so thin, in fact, that manager Mike Scioscia says he’s considering utilizing starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner on the days he’s not scheduled to pitch.

I’ve never had a pitcher pinch-run,” Scioscia told reporters Saturday. “There’s more bad than good that can come out of it. But Shohei is not just a pitcher. He’s a guy that has the ability to do some of the things coming off the bench, whether it’s pinch-hit or pinch-run, and we’re definitely going to tap into that if it’s necessary, because we feel we’re not putting him at risk. It’s something he’s able to do.

Granted, spring training allows for a certain amount of experimentation before managers and players decide what works best for them, so this may not be the strategy the Angels employ for the entire season. In addition to coming off the bench between starts, Ohtani is also expected to see 2-3 days at DH every week, forcing Albert Pujols to shift over to first base to accommodate the new two-way star.

Ohtani’s hitting prowess has already been well-documented — he has a lifetime .286/.358/.500 batting line from NPB and crushed a batting practice home run during his initial workouts with the team this week — but his skills on the basepaths have received less attention so far. MLB Pipeline describes the 23-year-old phenom as a “well-above average runner” whose speed has yet to manifest stolen bases: he’s nabbed just 13 bases in 17 chances over the last five years. That’s a number Scioscia hopes to see increased this season, though he doesn’t want his ace pitcher making any head-first slides on the basepaths to do so.

To be sure, it’s an unorthodox role for any young player to step into, but if anyone can pull it off, Ohtani can.