With just ten days until Opening Day, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:
1. WBC Update
Last night, Team USA (5-1) trounced Team Cuba (3-3) by a score of 14-2 to move onto the World Baseball Classic Finals. Their opponent will be decided tonight, as Team Japan (5-0) faces off against Team Mexico (4-1). Patrick Sandoval (1 ER in 3.0 IP) will take the ball for Team Mexico, facing off against Team Japan’s 21-year-old phenom, Roki Sasaki (0 ER in 3.2 IP). In addition to a strong pitching matchup, both clubs have an MLB star on a hot streak at the plate, with Randy Arozarena (1.566 OPS in 17 PA) and Shohei Ohtani (1.438 OPS in 16 PA) both standing in the top 10 of all WBC batters in terms of OPS. The game begins at 6pm CT and will air on FS1.
2. Soto injury update on the horizon?
Last night, the Padres revealed that superstar Juan Soto suffered a mild oblique strain, but few details were made available about the situation. More information could come to light regarding Soto’s situation as soon as today. Should Soto indeed miss time, Jose Azocar and Adam Engel are among those who could stand to garner some additional playing time, while a player such as David Dahl or Brandon Dixon could be called upon to fill out the Padres bench.
3. Without Altuve, where can the Astros look for middle infield depth?
Yesterday, it was announced that Astros star second baseman Jose Altuve would undergo surgery after sustaining a broken thumb while playing in the WBC. The team did not provide a formal timetable for Altuve’s return. It seems that David Hensley and Mauricio Dubon will handle second base duties until Altuve has recovered. Beyond that pair, Houston has former Orioles and Dodgers prospect Rylan Bannon on the 40-man roster and journeyman Dixon Machado in camp on a non-roster deal.
If the Astros want to add some further depth to protect against injury to one of of Hensley, Dubon or shortstop Jeremy Pena, the free-agent market still has a handful of experienced veterans, with Andrelton Simmons, Jonathan Villar and Alcides Escobar all unsigned at the moment. There will also surely be some middle infielders who’ll be designated for assignment over the next ten days or so as other teams select the contracts of prospects or veterans on minor league deals, which could create the opportunity for some minor trades or waiver claims for the ’Stros. The corresponding 40-man move could be rather straightforward, assuming the Astros feel Altuve will require a stint on the 60-day injured list while he recovers from surgery.
Soto may want to preserve his aging body by bunting against all left- and right-handed pitchers.
Detroit has a couple to move for second base, and they are open to trades.
Yeah such appealing options.
if my math is correct, Ohtani lines up to face the US if Japan advances.
On the TV broadcast last night they said it would be Darvish.
It has been reported that Ohtani won’t start but would be an option out of the pen if needed. The baseball world just wants to see Ohtani pitch to Trout. I know I sure do as a Halo fan!
Send the Tigers a prospect for Jonathan Schoop.
It has been a great few games since USA got embarrassed by Mexico. I think it’s a win win for the WBC and team USA no matter who wins tonight. USA vs either Mexico or Japan will be a great game. It’s been fun to watch and I am interested to see what kind of intensity it will bring the start of the season. Just hoping Trout and Ohtani stay healthy and can ride the wave and momentum into the playoffs this season
To go from the adrenaline dump of these intense contests to a meaningless April game in Kaufmann Stadium, etc must make these guys apathetic.
for guys on teams with even a prayers chance, it should only make them more hungry to end up somewhere after the regular season. hopefully it only drives competition, although i thought something similar watching carlos hernandez pitch for venezuela, who will be on his way to meet with the royals to play some meaningless kaufmann games if he makes the team.
If it comes down to Villar, Simmons, or Escobar, I would say Villar. He’s played second base a lot in his career and he still probably has something left in the tank offensively, defensively though…
I think they may better off just sticking with Hensley and Dubon.
Still surprised the Dominican Republic didn’t even make the semifinals. Absolutely stacked team. But that’s baseball for you. I’d kind of like to see Japan win the whole thing. MLB is the best league in the world, but I think some Americans are arrogant about that, as though every other league is AA-level or worse. There are some really good players in other leagues, seemingly especially in the NPB, and I’d love for the world to see that.
Never root against your country lol but your plan wouldn’t work anyway. They would just call the USA bums. Anyone with a functioning baseball brain knows Japan is legit. NPB is legit. And that they are a formidable opponent.
the wbc is not about people with functioning baseball brains. its about money, which is gained by trying to get people to have perspective on the game, which japan winning would slightly maybe achieve.
What a great comeback win for team Mexico Friday night. Their bullpen really saved the day. I think the Cubs might have something special in that Javier Assad. I won’t miss seeing Puerto Rico’s excessive celebrations. Watching all the jumping and chest thumping in the first inning, you would of thought they had just hit back to back homers to walk off the game in the 9th. Note to self, team Puerto Rico: a four run first inning lead is hardly insurmountable. And yes, I’m an old man who wants you to get off his lawn!
I like the Japanese pitching to carry them to the finals. Roki Sasaki is pretty poised for a 21 year old kid. Darvish, Shohei and the Yamamoto kid are good for the finals. These are all good MLB quality arms. Manager said he expected pitching and defense to carry the Japan team. He hoped they could play enough small ball to score some runs. He was wildly pessimistic about the offense. So far, they’ve got the highest run differential in the tournament I think.
The other finalist will be the team that has the scariest 1 through 9 lineup outside of a MLB All Star team, Team USA. I realize WBC isn’t everyone’s idea of a good use of time but this sure beats watching a spring training game.
Juan So-So is not a superstar.