What’s on Tap: Previewing Friday’s action

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Call this a crazy, off-the-wall prediction, but I think number 42 is really gonna come up big tonight. Indeed, I guarantee you that number 42 will get the win AND drive in the decisive runs in EVERY SINGLE GAME.

The most notable game where number 42 will play a part, of course, will be the Dodgers-Giants tilt. Notable for the dignitaries present, the history of Jackie Robinson with the Dodgers and the fact that the game will be on national TV, but also notable for the matchup. Once again Madison Bumgarner will face off against Clayton Kershaw. It’s never really become Juan Marichal-Sandy Koufax, but it’s about as good as we have in terms of pitcher/team rivalries these days.

Kershaw is the better pitcher overall, but Bumgarner has had the edge head-to-head. Last time out he held the Dodgers to one run on six hits over six innings while walking one and striking out eight. For his part, Kershaw pitched an eight-inning no-decision but allowed a home run to Bumgarner as the Dodgers won in extra innings. Overall Bumgarner is 4-2 in head-to-head matchups while Kershaw is 2-4, but Kershaw has the lower ERA and WHIP. Bumgarner gets more help and, of course, he helps himself.

The other matchups:

Colorado Rockies (Chad Bettis) @ Chicago Cubs (Kyle Hendricks), 2:20 PM EDT, Wrigley Field;

Milwaukee Brewers (Jimmy Nelson) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Jeff Locke), 7:05 PM EDT, PNC Park;

Seattle Mariners (Nathan Karns) @ New York Yankees (Luis Severino), 7:05 PM EDT Yankee Stadium;

Washington Nationals (Joe Ross) @ Philadelphia Phillies (Jeremy Hellickson), 7:05 PM EDT, Citizens Bank Park;

Atlanta Braves (Williams Perez) @ Miami Marlins (Wei-Yin Chen), 7:10 PM EDT, Marlins Park;

Chicago White Sox (Chris Sale) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Jake Odorizzi), 7:10 PM EDT, Tropicana Field;

New York Mets (Bartolo Colon) @ Cleveland Indians (Cody Anderson), 7:10 PM EDT , Progressive Field;

Toronto Blue Jays (R.A. Dickey) @ Boston Red Sox (Rick Porcello), 7:10 PM EDT, Fenway Park;

Baltimore Orioles (Vance Worley) @ Texas Rangers (Martin Perez), 8:05 PM EDT, Globe Life Park in Arlington;

Detroit Tigers (Mike Pelfrey) @ Houston Astros (Dallas Keuchel), 8:10 PM EDT, Minute Maid Park;

Los Angeles Angels (Garrett Richards) @ Minnesota Twins (Tommy Milone), 8:10 PM EDT, Target Field;

Cincinnati Reds (Tim Melville) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Carlos Martinez), 8:15 PM EDT, Busch Stadium;

Kansas City Royals (Edinson Volquez) @ Oakland Athletics (Rich Hill), 10:05 PM EDT, Oakland Coliseum;

San Francisco Giants (Madison Bumgarner) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw), 10:10 PM EDT, Dodger Stadium;

Arizona Diamondbacks (Zack Greinke) @ San Diego Padres (James Shields), 10:40 PM EDT, Petco Park.

Shohei Ohtani agrees to $30 million deal for 2023 with Angels

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani agreed to a $30 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels for the 2023 season in the two-way superstar’s final year of arbitration eligibility before free agency.

The Angels announced the deal, avoiding a potentially complicated arbitration case with the 2021 AL MVP.

Ohtani’s deal is fully guaranteed, with no other provisions. The contract is the largest ever given to an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing the $27 million given to Mookie Betts by the Boston Red Sox in January 2020, a month before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ohtani is having another incredible season at the plate and on the mound for the Angels, regularly accomplishing feats that haven’t occurred in the major leagues since Babe Ruth’s heyday. He is a strong contender for the AL MVP award again alongside the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who has tied the AL home run record and is closing in on the batting Triple Crown.

Ohtani is batting .276 with 34 homers, 94 RBIs and a .888 OPS as the Halos’ designated hitter. He is 15-8 with a 2.35 ERA and 213 strikeouts as their ace on the mound, and opponents are batting only .207 against him.

The 28-year-old Ohtani still will be a free agent after the 2023 season, and his future could be tied to the immediate fortunes of the Angels, who will complete their seventh consecutive losing season next week. The Angels didn’t trade Ohtani at the deadline despite being out of the playoff race again, and Ohtani is wildly popular among the club’s fans.

Ohtani repeatedly has said winning will be an important factor in choosing his home beyond 2023, and Angels owner Arte Moreno is currently exploring a sale of the team.

Moreno’s leadership has been widely criticized during the Angels’ mostly miserable run of play since 2009, and a fresh start with deep-pocketed new owners could be the best chance to persuade Ohtani to stay with the franchise he joined in 2018 from Japan. Ohtani immediately won the AL Rookie of the Year award, and he rounded into unique form last season after recovering fully from Tommy John surgery.