Nationals right-hander and top-100 prospect A.J. Cole will be called up today to make his MLB debut starting in place of the injured Max Scherzer.
Cole was originally the Nationals’ fourth-round draft pick in 2010, but Washington traded him to Oakland in the Gio Gonzalez deal only to reacquire him in the three-team swap that sent Michael Morse to Seattle.
In calling up Cole for his debut the Nationals bypassed Tanner Roark, who started 32 games with a 2.85 ERA last season before being bumped to the bullpen by Scherzer’s arrival. For now the team is hoping that Scherzer will only miss one start with a thumb injury and Roark likely would have been limited to fewer than 75 pitches, so manager Matt Williams opted for the hard-throwing 23-year-old Cole versus Atlanta.
Cole has a 3.23 ERA and 60/18 K/BB ratio in 78 innings at Triple-A, including 11 starts there last season and three starts there this year.
Marlins left fielder Christian Yelich is headed to the disabeld list with a lower back strain and the team has called up first baseman Justin Bour from Triple-A to replace him on the roster.
Yelich, who agreed to a seven-year, $49 million contract this spring, was off to a slow start by hitting .200 with zero homers and a .488 OPS through 11 games. He’s had back issues since last week.
Bour is a 27-year-old who made his MLB debut with the Marlins last season. He’s hit .303 with 19 homers and an .874 OPS in 117 games at Triple-A, but has just three career games in the outfield. If the Marlins want to get him into the lineup, they’d probably need to move Michael Morse from first base to left field. More likely is 41-year-old Ichiro Suzuki picking up the most playing time in Yelich’s absence.
After dropping back-to-back games to the Mets, the Marlins are now off to a disappointing 3-8 start this season. There’s still a long way to go, but Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton told Joe Frisaro of MLB.com after last night’s loss that he’s not happy with what he’s seeing so far:
“We’re not really giving ourselves a chance, it feels like,” Stanton said. “We’ve got a positive vibe, but [something] is just not there. The fire is not there, it seems like. You always want to have it. But when you’re out there, and it’s game time, it’s just nothing there — it seems like.”
Miami has dropped the first two of four to the red-hot Mets, winners of six straight. After each of Stanton’s first-inning homers, the Mets each night seized momentum in the mid to late innings.
“The game is nine innings,” Stanton said. “It’s not two, three. It doesn’t matter if it’s the fifth through the seventh, or the seventh through the ninth. It’s not two innings, it’s nine. We’re not playing nine.”
The Marlins managed to lock up Stanton to a massive long-term deal over the winter while making some high-profile additions like Dee Gordon, Mat Latos, Dan Haren, Martin Prado, and Michael Morse. The offseason activity made them a trendy pick for a Wild Card spot with many pundits, but Latos is off to a rough start and Henderson Alvarez is currently sidelined with shoulder inflammation, so their rotation looks shaky at the moment. Jose Fernandez is due to back at some point later this season, but it’s hard to know what to expect from someone coming back from Tommy John surgery.
Things aren’t going to get any easier for the Marlins this weekend, as they are slated to face Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey over the next two days.
To prepare for his return to the Yankees after missing the entire 2014 season while serving out a 162-game PED suspension, Alex Rodriguez has enlisted the help of baseball’s home run king (and central figure of the “steroid era”) — Barry Bonds.
John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the two have been spotted working together at a Bay Area baseball facility called Future Prospects, owned by Bonds’ friend and former Arizona State teammate Charles Scott. Bonds has trained other major league hitters, like Dexter Fowler and Michael Morse, so this isn’t all that weird on a pure instructional level. Who knows more about late-career productivity — whatever you think of PEDs — than Bonds?
A-Rod, who will turn 40 years old in July, said last week that he expects to win the Yankees’ starting third base job this spring. It’s far more likely that he’ll DH, given that Chase Headley was retained.
Rodriguez is due a total of $64 million from the Yankees over the next three seasons. He also carries some marketing bonuses for career home run benchmarks.
Bonds and A-Rod have 1,416 career home runs between them.
San Francisco got a first-hand look at Norichika Aoki while beating Kansas City in the World Series and now the Giants have signed the 33-year-old outfielder.
John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that it’s a one-year deal worth $4 million and includes a 2016 team option with a $700,000 buyout. Seems like a bargain.
Aoki has his flaws, chief among them sometimes looking like a mess defensively with poor routes, but his defensive numbers have actually been pretty good and he’s a career .287 hitter with a .353 on-base percentage and as many walks as strikeouts during three seasons in America.
Aoki will take over in left field, where the Giants used Michael Morse for most of the regular season and then turned to journeyman first baseman Travis Ishikawa in the playoffs.