Here’s a convoluted sentence: The Los Angeles Angels (formerly the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, still located in Anaheim) finally welcomed back their star two-way player, who is currently just a one-way player, set to appear exclusively as a DH this season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Here’s a less convoluted sentence: Shohei Ohtani is back.
After a five-week wait, we finally got our first look at the electric 24-year-old, who slashed .285/.361/.564 last season, with 22 homers, 61 RBI, 59 runs scored and 10 stolen bases in just 326 at-bats.
Given that explosive production, it’s a bit surprising that Ohtani is still rostered in just 65 percent of Yahoo leagues — up from 59 percent on Monday. Granted, he does only have Util eligibility, which is annoying, but let’s not forget just how formidable Shohei's bat was down the stretch last season. From Aug. 1 onward, he hit .318 with a 1.042 OPS, drilling 13 homers with 36 RBI and stealing eight bases in just 148 at-bats.
Ohtani had a relatively quiet season debut on Tuesday, going 0-for-4 with a walk and an RBI groundout (and a lineout to third) as the Angels’ No. 3 hitter, but the bottom line is this: Even though he won’t throw a pitch in 2019, even as only a DH, even as just a Util option, this is a fantasy asset who still carries a whole lot of intrigue for the months ahead.
Give Us a Hand
Ohtani wasn’t the only significant bat returning to an AL West lineup on Tuesday. The A’s got back Matt Olson, who’s been out since March due to a broken hamate bone sustained during the opening series in Japan. The hamate is of course notorious for sapping a hitter’s power, so it could be a little while before Olson (29 homers last season) is fully up to speed. He’s currently just 60 percent rostered in Yahoo leagues after the long layoff — a layoff that got slightly longer when the A’s game was delayed due to a lighting malfunction on Tuesday, with the first pitch coming shortly before midnight ET. (That's when Mike Fiers took over, but more on that in a minute.)
Also out West, also hand-related: Braves lefty Max Fried made a homecoming start at Dodger Stadium, and it did not go well. Fried took an Alex Verdugo line drive off his left hand in the second inning, and left the game after throwing a couple of warmup pitches. The good news is Fried only has a contusion, so he may not miss his next start. The 25-year-old allowed four earned runs in his inning-plus of work.
On the flip side of things, it was a dominant evening for a couple of Dodgers. Hyun-Jin Ryu was perfect through five innings, ended up throwing a 93-pitch complete-game shutout (the fifth in MLB this season), and now has a downright silly 45/2 strikeout-to-walk ratio on the year. Meanwhile, Justin Turner, who didn't hit a home run in his first 28 games this season, now has four in his last seven games after a three-homer game on Tuesday. It was the first career three-homer game for Turner, who also uncorked a career-high six RBI.
Man on Fiers
Mike Fiers entered Tuesday evening with a 6.81 ERA, 1.49 WHIP and 8 percent ownership in Yahoo leagues. He had been a bit better in his last two starts (five earned runs in 12 innings), but starting him on Tuesday against the Reds would still have been filed under "living dangerously." For anyone who was bold or desperate enough, it paid off. The veteran tossed his second career no-hitter (with two walks and six strikeouts, and with Ramon Laureano stealing a home run from Joey Votto), giving Fiers a 2.14 ERA over his last three starts.
Even with the dominant outing, it's still fair to approach Fiers with skepticism in fantasy leagues. He was pretty good last year (3.56 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 139 strikeouts in 172 innings), but that's probably about the ceiling at this point for a 33-year-old with a career 4.15 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. In a deeper format, it might make sense to try to ride this momentum. With that said, I would tread cautiously on his next start after Fiers needed 131 pitches to mow down the Reds.
Tuesday was a significant day of news if you’re invested in the Nationals. First and foremost, almost as quickly as we got word that Trea Turner (finger) has recently begun hitting off a tee, it also came to light that he took a light round of BP on Tuesday as his recovery speeds up. Turner has been out since April 2.
Meanwhile, the Nats got back Anthony Rendon (elbow) off the IL — who got ejected for arguing balls and strikes — and sent a slumping/struggling Carter Kieboom (.128 average) back to Triple-A. Also, Juan Soto (back) is expected to return when first eligible on Saturday.
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AL Quick Hits: Corey Kluber (arm) confirmed that he intends to pitch again this year, with Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer writing that an “optimistic outlook” would have Kluber back some time in August. … Brandon Lowe hit his eighth home run while extending his hitting streak to 11 games. … Aaron Hicks (back) played in his first rehab game on Monday and could potentially return this weekend. ... Griffin Canning earned his first career victory, striking out seven Tigers in 5 1/3 innings. … The Angels activated Cody Allen (back), but Hansel Robles pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his third save. ... David Price (elbow) threw on flat ground Tuesday, which bodes well for a relatively short stint on the IL. ... Khris Davis was scratched due to the left hip contusion he sustained on Sunday. … Lucas Giolito fired 7 1/3 scoreless innings against the Indians, allowing just three hits and three walks with eight strikeouts to lower his ERA to 4.06. … The Twins shut out the Blue Jays behind seven scoreless innings from Jose Berrios, who moved to 6-1 with a 2.53 ERA. … Mitch Garver (33 percent rostered) blasted his seventh homer of the season. … Whit Merrifield hit his sixth homer (a grand slam) and stole his seventh base, while Jorge Soler (26 percent rostered) launched his ninth long ball — a monstrous drive to center — and now has 24 RBI for KC.
NL Quick Hits: Jed Lowrie (knee) could join the Mets on Friday. … The Giants called up Mac Williamson, who was hitting .378 with nine home runs at Triple-A, and wasted no time in homering and driving in four in his season debut. ... David Robertson (elbow) is set to begin a throwing program later this week. ... Ben Zobrist was scratched due to a personal matter. ... Gregory Polanco picked up his first homer and first stolen base of the season. … Aaron Nola threw six innings of one-run ball against the Cardinals, and has now allowed three earned runs total in his last three starts. … Franmil Reyes hit his 10th home run, and Ty France hit his first for the Padres. … Raisel Iglesias (4.86 ERA, 1.44 WHIP this season) is not pleased with the Reds using him in non-save situations. … Bryce Harper mashed his first grand slam as a Phillie. … Kris Bryant hit a walk-off three-run homer to beat the Marlins, his third consecutive game with a home run, giving him six on the season. Going to waste for Miami: 11 strikeouts for Caleb Smith, who now has a 2.11 ERA and 0.89 WHIP with 56 strikeouts in 42 2/3 innings.