Starting around this time every year, teams begin to trickle in announcements for their Opening Day starting pitchers. This is really only true of teams with slam-dunk choices, like the Astros with Dallas Keuchel or the Dodgers with Clayton Kershaw. The Mariners, too, have a fairly easy decision.
As Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports, manager Scott Servais has announced that Felix Hernandez will start on Opening Day, April 3, for the Mariners against the Astros on the road. It will be Hernandez’s 10th career Opening Day start for the Mariners and his ninth consecutively. The Mariners have won all but one of those 10 starts, with that lone loss occurring last season against the Rangers.
Hernandez, who will turn 31 years old shortly after Opening Day, wasn’t quite his usual dominating self in 2016. He made 25 starts, putting up a 3.82 ERA with a 122/65 K/BB ratio over 153 1/3 innings. The right-hander also dealt with a calf injury that hampered him between the end of May and mid-July. The Mariners are hoping Hernandez can return to being the Cy Young Award contender he has been over the last five years.
Tigers’ center fielder Anthony Gose wants to try his hand at pitching, according to comments made by manager Brad Ausmus on Sunday. Gose is poised to start the year in Triple-A Toledo after receiving a midseason demotion to Double-A last summer following an altercation with Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon.
While the experiment won’t detract from Gose’s outfield work in Triple-A, the 26-year-old is expected to take on additional bullpen sessions throughout the year. According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck, the left-handed hitter last took the mound in high school, where his fastball was clocked as fast as 97 m.p.h. Gose ultimately rejected the idea of starting his professional career as a pitcher, despite receiving favorable assessments from scouts.
Ausmus said the idea first surfaced at the end of the 2016 season. It appears to be a fallback option for the outfielder, who has struggled at the plate over his five-year career in the majors. Via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:
Doolittle in Oakland did it and he was in the big leagues a couple of years later,” Ausmus said. “It’s going to take some time. He’s going to have to be a sponge and catch up on experience fast. But we feel it’s worth investigating.
Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the club on Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. The news is hardly surprising given Max Scherzer’s questionable status this spring, though it had yet to be confirmed by the club.
Strasburg is approaching his eighth run with the club in 2017. He went 15-4 in 2016, finishing the year with a 3.60 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 in 147 2/3 innings. This will mark his fourth Opening Day assignment with the Nationals.
Scherzer, the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in both 2015 and 2016, is scheduled to make his season debut sometime during the first week of the season. The right-hander is expected to take things more slowly this spring as he finishes rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger.
The Nationals will open their season against the Marlins on April 3.