Jarred Cosart dazzles in Major League debut against the Rays

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23-year-old Astros pitching prospect Jarred Cosart made his Major League debut tonight against the Rays. He carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning, losing it on a one-out single to right field by Ben Zobrist. He went eight-plus innings, shutting out the Rays and out-dueling reigning AL Cy Young award winner David Price.

Throughout the game, Cosart looked sharp and in control. Rays hitters had a tough time squaring him up as he induced grounder after grounder (12 of his 16 batted balls out were on the ground). After Cosart lost the no-hit bid, the Astros had Lucas Harrell warm up in the bullpen just in case, but with 91 pitches and three consecutive right-handed hitters due up in the ninth inning, Cosart was allowed to take the hill to complete the gem. He walked Kelly Johnson to lead off the inning and was relieved by closer Jose Veras.

Veras promptly induced a 6-4-3 double play from Yunel Escobar. Following a throwing error by shortstop Jake Elmore, Luke Scott won a nine-pitch at-bat with a line drive RBI single to center. Veras struck out Evan Longoria looking to end the game, sealing an Astros 2-1 victory.

The Astros acquired Cosart, along with Jonathan Singleton, Josh Zeid, and Domingo Santana from the Phillies in the Hunter Pence trade back on July 29, 2011.

Some trivia about Cosart’s debut:

Cosart was attempting to become the first pitcher since Bumpus Jones in 1892 to throw a no-hitter in his Major League debut. The Astros had planned to option him back to the Minors after his start tonight, and likely will still do so even despite the impressive outing as they wouldn’t need him again until July 23.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.