Last year, when the Marlins were all hopped up on offseason spending and expectations, Ricky Nolasco started the third game of the season behind Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle.
This year he’ll draw the Opening Day assignment, manager Mike Redmond announced this afternoon.
Nolasco also started Opening Day for the Marlins in 2009, but back then he was coming off a season in which he went 15-8 with a 3.52 ERA in 212 innings. Now he’s coming off a four-season stretch with ERAs of 4.48, 4.67, 4.51, and 5.08.
Of course, it’s not like the Marlins have anyone better.
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.