Cardinals starter Michael Wacha dazzled, shutting the Dodgers out over six and two-thirds innings. He allowed just five hits and a walk while striking out eight, escaping jams in the fifth and sixth innings before giving way to the bullpen with two outs in the seventh.
Wacha retired the first two batters he faced, but his pitch count ran close to 110 as Nick Punto stepped to the plate. Punto singled on an 0-2 ground ball to center, ending Wacha’s evening. Matheny went to the mound and brought in lefty Kevin Siegrist. Siegrist uncorked two wild pitches, allowing Punto to advance from first to third, but he got Michael Young to end an eight-pitch at-bat with a lazy fly ball to right field.
Including his Game 4 start against the Pirates in the NLDS, Wacha has allowed just one run in 14 post-season innings, striking out 17 while walking just three. Not bad for a 22-year-old.
Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.
Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”
Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.
The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.