Here’s a potential boost for the Pirates, who are currently locked into a tie with the Cardinals at the very top of the National League Central standings.
Starling Marte is a member of Pittsburgh’s starting lineup — batting leadoff and playing left field — on Tuesday evening against the Padres for the first time since suffering a severe hand contusion in an August 18 game versus Arizona. Marte was activated from the disabled list on September 7 but could only serve as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement initially due to lingering discomfort in his badly-bruised hand.
Marte was well on his way to an outstanding season for the Bucs before the injury and will carry a cool .282/.343/.443 batting line, 11 home runs, 10 triples, 36 stolen bases and 79 runs scored into his return to full-time action on Tuesday night.
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.