Typically, The Opener (and MLBTR in general) focuses purely on baseball. Today, however, we’re making a rare pivot to the larger sports world as the NBA will hold its draft this evening at 7pm CT. Given that, unlike MLB, the NBA allows trading of draft picks, draft day often serves as the catalyst for a bevy of deals and rumors. Our sister site, Hoops Rumors, is set to provide the same type of coverage we at MLBTR offer during peak transactional periods in the baseball calendar, such as the trade deadline and the winter meetings. Yesterday, a three-team deal between the Celtics, Wizards, and Grizzlies saw Kristaps Porzingis, Marcus Smart, and Tyus Jones change teams. With more sure to come in advance of this evening’s draft, basketball fans who enjoy MLBTR’s content should check in at Hoops Rumors for up-to-the-minute coverage and analysis of the moves and rumors throughout the day.
As we approach the halfway point in the 2023 regular season, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:
1. Giants looking to tie Reds’ streak:
The Giants have won their past 10 games, catapulting them to second place in the NL West, just two and a half games behind the division-leading D-backs. Now in possession of the top Wild Card spot in the National League, they’ll look to extend their winning streak to 11 games, tying a Reds club that has Thursday off for the longest active streak in the Majors. In order to do so, San Francisco will need to topple red-hot Padres lefty Blake Snell, who’s allowed just two runs in his past five starts — a total of 30 innings that has seen the former AL Cy Young winner post a hearty 45-to-13 K/BB ratio. They’ll also likely do so without outfielder Mike Yastrzemski, who’s headed for an MRI on his ailing left hamstring today, per Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area (Twitter link).
2. Transactions loom in Boston:
The Red Sox are poised to have a busy day before this afternoon’s game against the Twins, as reports indicate that pitching prospect Brandon Walter will make his MLB debut in Minnesota today. That’s not the only expected movement on the club’s roster, however, as catcher Reese McGuire suffered a strained oblique during yesterday’s game, prompting reports that Boston plans to select catcher Caleb Hamilton to the roster today. A 40-man roster move will be necessary to make room for Hamilton, though only an active roster move will be required to clear space for Walter.
Hamilton made his MLB debut with the Twins last season, spending time at catcher, first base, and DH. He struggled in that brief call-up to the big leagues, slashing just .056/.227/.222 in 23 plate appearances. In the minors, the 28-year-old has fared better, though he still posts below-average offensive numbers with a slash line of .206/.316/.377 in 114 games at the Triple-A level. Hamilton figures to back up Connor Wong for the Red Sox while McGuire is on the shelf. As for Walter, the 26-year-old lefty dominated Double-A hitters last season with a 2.88 ERA in 50 innings, though he’s failed to do the same in Triple-A. In 69 1/3 innings at the minor leagues’ highest level, Walter has posted a worrisome 6.49 ERA, albeit with a slightly more palatable 4.74 FIP in 2023.
3. Calhoun headed to the IL:
Yankees outfielder Willie Calhoun is likely headed to the injured list today, as Calhoun himself told reporters (including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch). While the team hasn’t made a timetable for his return official, Calhoun compared his current injury to one he’s had in the past, which he said required a PRP injection and 3-4 weeks on the shelf, a timeline which would leave Calhoun out past the All-Star break. Hoch speculates that infielder Oswaldo Cabrera could replace Calhoun on the active roster.
Calhoun’s been a roughly league average bat for the Yankees this season, slashing .239/.309/.403 with a 96 wRC+ in 149 plate appearances. Even with those mediocre numbers, however, New York still figures to miss Calhoun’s presence on an offense that’s already scuffling badly without team captain Aaron Judge. Only Anthony Rizzo, Gleyber Torres and Jake Bauers, have posted above average seasons by measure of wRC+ in at least 100 at-bats besides the injured Judge. Even that group has struggled recently, with only Bauers posting an OPS above .800 in June. The Yankees figure to try and right the ship against the Mariners this evening.