New Giants closer Mark Melancon has been added to Team USA’s roster for the World Baseball Classic semifinal against Team Japan, MLB.com’s Chris Haft reports. The game will begin at 9 PM ET on Tuesday and will be played at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
Melancon, who turns 32 years old on March 28, signed a four-year, $62 million contract with the Giants in December. With the Pirates and Nationals last season, Melancon saved 47 games with a 1.67 ERA and a 65/12 K/BB ratio in 71 1/3 innings.
Since the start of the 2013 season, five relievers have compiled an ERA below 2.00 while pitching at least 120 innings of relief. Melancon’s 1.80 ERA is lowest, beating Andrew Miller (1.93), Aroldis Chapman (1.93), Zach Britton (1.95), and Greg Holland (1.97). Needless to say, the Giants — which blew an MLB-worst 30 saves last season — made a major upgrade to the bullpen in signing Melancon. Team USA has done the same by adding him to its roster.
The Angels signed Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani for a $2.3 million signing bonus last weekend. They may have damaged goods on their hands. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Ohtani underwent a physical that revealed a first-degree sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament. As a result, he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on October 20. This was made known to teams after Ohtani entered MLB’s posting system, so it wasn’t like the Angels went into this blind.
Ohtani’s report said, “Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists, he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program.” It also said Ohtani “will most likely be available to start his throwing program approximately a month from the PRP.”
Passan notes that the report also mentioned that a “small free body” floats in Ohtani’s elbow near his UCL.
Ohtani isn’t without other injuries. He battled hamstring and ankle issues throughout 2017 and underwent right ankle surgery back in October. Thankfully for the Angels, this diagnosis is about as good as it could be considering the circumstances. However, if Ohtani does exacerbate his UCL issue, he may ultimately need Tommy John surgery at some point, which would take him out of action for at least a year.