According to Scott Miller of MLB.com, left-hander Hyun-jin Ryu has been cleared to start the Dodgers’ U.S. opener on Sunday night against the Padres. Defending NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw was originally expected to make the start, but he was scratched from the assignment due to a sore upper back.
Ryu has had some issues of his own in recent days, as he suffered a cracked nail on his big right toe while running the bases last weekend during the Australia series against the Diamondbacks. However, he made it through a bullpen session with no issues yesterday and even took batting practice.
Ryu tossed five scoreless innings in his season debut last weekend and is looking to build off an impressive rookie season in which he posted a 3.00 ERA in 30 starts.
Bryce Harper, who said he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared gassed in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet. With his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for No. 19. He tossed his bat in celebration, grabbed his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was mobbed on the field by his All-Star teammates.
Harper hit 13 home runs in the first round, eliminating Freddie Freeman and advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Harper topped Max Muncy 13-12 to advance to the finals. On Schwarber’s side of the bracket, he bested Alex Bregman 16-15, then defeated Rhys Hoskins 21-20.
Harper is the first member of the Nationals (or Expos) to win the Home Run Derby. Harper participated in the 2013 Derby but finished in second place behind Yoenis Céspedes. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2012. The only players to win the Derby in their home park are Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg in 1990.
As a spectator, the 2018 Home Run Derby was tons of fun. The four-minute clock adds a lot of tension and intrigue even to the initial rounds. Seeing teammates cheer and get excited for their teammates in the Derby is really fun. Of course, watching dinger after dinger is cool, too. Can’t wait for next year.