Dodgers surprisingly tab Padilla for Opening Day

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers will soon name Vicente Padilla their Opening Day starter, which is a surprise to say the least given that the rotation also includes young studs Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley.
Padilla went 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA down the stretch for the Dodgers last season, but before that he was released by the Rangers after posting a 4.92 ERA in 147 innings. Even with his nice late-season run in Los Angeles included Padilla hasn’t had an ERA below 4.40 since way back in 2003, when he was a 25-year-old with the Phillies.
For comparison the 22-year-old Kershaw has a 3.36 ERA and 285 strikeouts in 279 career innings, while the 25-year-old Billingsley has a 3.55 ERA and 580 strikeouts in 634 career innings. Ultimately it doesn’t really matter, since everyone in the rotation will start 32-34 games if they remain healthy, but this sure seems like rewarding a mediocre veteran just for being a mediocre veteran.
Hiroki Kuroda is locked in as the Dodgers’ fourth starter, but the final rotation spot hasn’t been decided yet as Ramon Ortiz, Eric Stults, Russ Ortiz, Carlos Monasterios, and Charlie Haeger all battle for the gig. Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Dodgers are “shopping” Stults, however, which would seemingly indicate that he’s a long shot.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.