All things considered, Shohei Ohtani had himself a pretty solid day on Wednesday. Not only did he throw off a mound for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery last October, but he also went 3-for-3 with a walk and a run scored to propel the Angels to a 5-1 victory over the Reds. The 24-year-old burgeoning slugger reached base safely in all four of his plate appearances, including a pivotal single to left field off Reds closer Raisel Iglesias in the ninth inning, which advanced the go-ahead run into scoring position with nobody out in the frame. He also drilled a 115.2 mph double, the hardest-hit ball of his career, and swiped his fourth base of the season. Simply put, Ohtani has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball, hitting .333 (26-for-78) with six homers, 18 RBI and four stolen bases in 23 games this month. There’s a legitimate case to be made that he’s somehow the most underrated five-category fantasy superstar in the game right now.
Not only is Ohtani the most dynamic designated hitter in the big leagues, but he’s on the precipice of returning to the mound as an electrifying starting pitcher next season. According to reports, Ohtani threw 20 pitches from the windup and 20 from the stretch during his pregame bullpen session. He also threw 70 pitches from flat ground. “He looked great,” Angels pitching coach Doug White told reporters after the session. Ohtani, who posted a 3.31 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 63/22 K/BB ratio across 10 starts last year, is scheduled to throw another bullpen on Saturday. While he won’t pitch in a game this season, throwing off a mound is a pivotal milestone towards his return as a dynamic two-way fantasy threat next season. The future is extremely bright in Los Angeles.
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Injuries Piling Up For Twins
The Twins came from behind to beat the Rays 6-4 on Wednesday night, thanks to a go-ahead, three-run double from Nelson Cruz in the seventh inning and a clutch four-out save by lefty closer Taylor Rogers. Yet, the most significant storyline to emerge from Minnesota centered around the health of Eddie Rosario, who exited the contest in the fourth inning after suffering a left ankle sprain while rounding first base on a single in the third inning. The Twins are calling him day-to-day and manager Rocco Baldelli said that an MRI did not show a sprain that was “overly serious.” Rosario may have avoided serious injury, but he’ll likely be sidelined for at least a few days, if not more. Considering the recent rash of injuries to their outfield, which include Byron Buxton, Max Kepler and Marwin Gonzalez, the Twins may not have a choice but to put him on the 10-day injured list. Fantasy owners should stay tuned for more updates and monitor the situation closely over the next few days.
Stanton Sidelined Again
In the words of Ron Burgundy, “Boy, that escalated quickly.” Just a few hours after Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters that an MRI on Giancarlo Stanton’s injured right knee revealed “no new injury,” the 29-year-old slugger was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right knee sprain. There was some initial optimism that Stanton, who has been limited to nine games this season due to a variety of ailments including a biceps strain, shoulder strain and calf strain, would avoid the injured list altogether. However, clearly there was more damage done to his right knee on Tuesday night than originally reported. The Yankees, who have won nine of their last 10 games, will be without Stanton when they kick off a two-game series against the division-rival Red Sox in London, England on Saturday. While there is no official timetable for a potential return, it seems unlikely that Stanton will be ready to return until after the All-Star break in early July. There’s no way to sugarcoat it folks, it’s been a brutal season for Stanton’s fantasy owners, who just can’t seem to catch a break.
With the major-league trade deadline rapidly approaching, here are a few of the latest rumours regarding several big names who could be on the moving in the next few weeks including Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith and Felipe Vasquez.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported Wednesday that the Twins “are showing strong interest” in Madison Bumgarner. ESPN's Jeff Passan reported that the Twins "haven’t engaged" with the Giants in “high-level talks” in recent weeks and “there isn't any traction” for a trade. The report surfaced just a few hours after the 29-year-old southpaw struck out a season-high 11 batters over six innings in a win over the Rockies on Tuesday. It was his first double-digit strikeout performance since April 2, 2017. He owns a pedestrian 4.21 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 104/24 K/BB ratio across 17 starts, but would be a massive upgrade to the Twins postseason rotation given his extensive track record of success in pivotal moments.
Passan also added that Will Smith “is on the Twins’ radar as of now.” Passan indicated that Smith is a bigger priority for the Twins than Bumgarner. The 29-year-old lefty is one of the safest bets to be traded next month, as he's a free agent this offseason and has posted a dominant 1.95 ERA and 49/7 K/BB ratio across 32 1/3 innings. From a fantasy perspective, Minnesota would be an ideal landing spot, as he would likely remain in a closing role. If he’s jettisoned to the Dodgers or another contending team with a previously established stopper, he would be a logical fit as a setup man and lefty matchup specialist.
Speaking of left-handed closers, Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported Wednesday that the Dodgers have interest in Felipe Vazquez. It makes sense that the Dodgers would want to strengthen the back-end of their bullpen, but this would be about the worst-case scenario for Vazquez's fantasy value since he'd likely be used primarily as a setup man in Los Angeles. While the Pirates are likely to listen to offers for the hard-throwing lefty, they don't need to trade Vazquez unless they get a great offer since he's under team control cheaply through 2023.
AL Quick Hits: Tim Anderson has been diagnosed with a high right ankle sprain. … Corey Kluber (arm) will go through a series of MRIs this week and could be cleared to resume a throwing program. … Carlos Carrasco (illness) played catch on Monday. … Byron Buxton (wrist) took some more swings Tuesday and is progressing towards a rehab assignment. … Andrew Benintendi remained out of the Red Sox' lineup Wednesday. He’s missed two consecutive games after his legs “felt heavy” after Sunday’s game against Toronto. … Yoan Moncada is considered day-to-day after being diagnosed with a right knee contusion. … Max Kepler (elbow) was held out of the Twins’ starting lineup Wednesday against the Rays. He was hit by a pitch in the right elbow on Tuesday. … DJ LeMahieu went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer to power the Yankees past the Blue Jays. … Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres and Didi Gregorius racked up nine hits combined in the victory. … Lourdes Gurriel homered twice and drove in four runs in the losing effort. … Jose Abreu launched a go-ahead, two-run homer to lift the White Sox to a comeback win over the Red Sox. … J.D. Martinez connected on his 17th homer and Matt Barnes was charged with his sixth blown save in the loss. … Trevor Bauer racked up a season-high 12 strikeouts in the Indians’ win over the Royals. … Liam Hendriks tossed a scoreless frame to record his second save as the Athletics’ edged the Cardinals. … Matt Chapman swatted his 19th long ball in that one. … Mike Minor allowed one run on five hits in a complete-game victory over the Tigers. … Willie Calhoun went 3-for-4 with a solo homer to spearhead the Rangers’ offense in that contest. … J.P. Crawford went 3-for-5 with three RBI and a run scored in the Mariners’ win over the Brewers. … Justin Bour went 2-for-4 with a pair of homers and four RBI in the Angels’ win over the Reds. … Jonathan Villar went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer in the Orioles’ loss to the Padres. … Ryne Stanek will serve as the opener for the Rays on Thursday against the Twins. … Mitch Haniger told reporters on Wednesday that he hopes to take batting practice this weekend. … Andrelton Simmons (ankle) will not be activated off of the 10-day injured list on Wednesday, but could be activated “very soon”. … Danny Salazar (shoulder) is expected to begin a rehab assignment soon. … John Means (shoulder) will rejoin the Orioles' rotation on Friday against the Indians. … Rangers released Drew Smyly. … Royals designated Brad Boxberger for assignment.
NL Quick Hits: Noah Syndergaard will come off the injured list and start on Sunday against the Braves. … Craig Kimbrel is likely to be activated on Thursday. … Bryse Wilson will be called up to start for the Braves against the Cubs on Thursday. … Mike Soroka (forearm) is scheduled to start on Friday against the Mets. … David Dahl went 2-for-4 with a grand slam and five RBI to lead the Rockies to a win over the Giants. … Eduardo Escobar went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer in the Diamondbacks’ win over the Dodgers. … Cody Bellinger launched his 26th homer in the loss … Josh Bell went 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, a pair of walks and three runs scored in the Pirates’ blowout win over the Astros. … Kevin Newman went 4-for-6 with a home run, three RBI and a stolen base in that contest. … Kris Bryant went 3-for-5 with a solo home run in the Cubs’ loss to the Braves. … Franmil Reyes homered twice in the Padres’ lopsided win over the Orioles. … Matt Strahm whiffed nine batters over six innings to pick up the win. … Zac Gallen fanned eight over five innings in a loss against the Nationals. … Patrick Corbin allowed one run over seven frames, while striking out nine, to pick up the win in that contest. … Jay Bruce delivered an RBI double in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift the Phillies to a walk-off victory over the Mets. … Jeff McNeil and Dominic Smith went deep in the losing effort. … Raisel Iglesias was charged with a season-high four runs over one inning in a loss to the Angels. … Adam Wainwright struck out nine over 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball in a loss against the Athletics. … Diamondbacks activated Jake Lamb from the 10-day injured list. He’s been out since early April with a left quad strain. … Jeurys Familia (shoulder) is not considering surgery at this time.