Mike Trout has a fan in Ryan Howard

13 Comments

Mike Trout, the pride of Millville, N.J. (see story), and the brightest young star in baseball, comes to Citizens Bank Park with the Los Angeles Angels for a two-game series beginning Tuesday night.

Trout, 22, is on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week.

In his two full seasons in the majors, he has been American League Rookie of the Year and finished second in the MVP voting to Miguel Cabrera twice.

He’s a once-in-a-lifetime talent, but you’ve probably already heard that, or seen it, a time or two.

Trout, who plays center field for Mike Scioscia’s Angels, will have plenty of fans in the stands Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon.

He will have one in the Phillies’ dugout, as well.

“I think we’re all fans of each other,” said Ryan Howard, himself a former Rookie of the Year and MVP winner. “All we’ve been able to do is hear about him because we never play against them.”

Read more on the Phillies from Comcast SportsNet by clicking here.

Interleague play brings the Trout — and don’t forget Albert Pujols (10 homers, 26 RBIs in his first 36 games) — to town. The Phillies are coming off a terrible loss in New York on Sunday. They blew a three-run lead in the ninth and lost, 5-4, in 11 innings to the Mets (see story).

“We’re not looking at one guy, we’re looking at an entire team,” Howard said. “We need to regroup and pull it together and get ready for the entire Angels team, not just Trout.”

Howard conceded that Trout is special.

And what impresses Howard most about Trout?

“I would say his poise,” Howard said. “I think the way he’s handled himself with all the attention and the hype, just the way he’s carried himself, it’s impressive. I’m not one to throw the age thing around, but for being so young, he’s handled everything like a true veteran with a lot of maturity.”

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
2 Comments

Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.