Day 15 of Spring training: Aces come out to play

A weekend of Spring Training games are in the bag and most clubs are just going about their business preparing their players for a long season ahead. Most clubs have played about three games now giving their regular position players a couple of at bats. Some veterans are yet to start but will in the next few days. The pitchers are all putting in about one to two innings of work as they make their first Spring Training appearances and build up their stamina towards Opening Day on 29 March.

The injury bug has largely stayed away for the key players, although its still very early. The most notable injury thus far is probably Rays top pitching prospect, Brent Honeywell that will require TJ surgery. All the best to him with the recovery process.

As mentioned before I don’t pay attention to team results or standings in Spring Training but rather individual performances of some players I would like to keep an eye on.

Here are my notes from some of yesterday’s games:

Feature game:

Nationals 9-3 Braves

Acuna had a second consecutive hitless day going 0-4 with one strikeout. Dansby Swanson however hit a home run off a fastball inside from Nationals ace Max Scherzer in the first inning.

Despite the home run, Max Scherzer looked in mid season form. His pitches had superb movement on them. He struck out three batters over two swift innings of work, giving up only the home run in the process.

Matt Wieters, whose lost tons of weight and has a point to prove this season, looks in fine early Spring Training form. He batted 2-2 with a home run and two runs batted in.

The Braves pitchers struggled a little against the Nationals. Scott Kazmir made his return to the mound after missing last season. He pitched a scoreless inning but didn’t look great as a walked two batters and hit another in a twenty five pitch inning. He was lucky to get out of it unscathed when the Nationals made an error on the bases as Goodwin ended being run down at third base. Obviously its only Kazmir’s first inning back after a lengthy layoff, so I would want to see more of him. The first signs were not promising though. His fastball velocity sat between 84-88mph. His next couple of outings will be telling.

Lucas Sims and Max Fried didn’t impress on the mound for the Braves either. Sims recorded 2IP, 3H, 2ER, 2BB and Fried 0.2IP, 3H, 2ER, BB, K. Still a lot of work left in camp for these two young arms in they have any hopes of making the rotation or the bullpen for that matter. Braves fans would be expecting these young arms to have a solid Spring and show that they can be relied upon come the regular season. After a promising couple of days for the Braves pitchers on Friday and Saturday, Braves fans got a reminder that these guys are still young and also very inconsistent. Who will put up their hand and claim their place on the Opening Day roster?

Red Sox 7 – 1 Orioles

Blake Swihart is off to a hot start in Spring. He went 2-2, 3RBIs, HR, BB.

Orioles rookie Austin Hays made his first start but went hitless in a 0-3 day with one strikeout. He did manage to work a walk.

Astros 7-3 Cardinals

Gerrit Cole pitched for the first time in Astros uniform and showed that he belongs in the super rotation with two hitless innings and two strikeouts.

New Cardinals pitcher, Miles Mikolas, who was signed from Japan for about $15m over two years, did not have a good start to his Cardinals career. He gave up an enormous seven hits and six runs over 1.2 innings. Cardinals fans will be worried. Yes, its early I know, but the Cardinals need him to compete for a playoff spot this season. All eyes will be on his next outing. One would imagine he settles down a bit.

Rays 4 – 5 Twins

New first baseman CJ Cron homered in a good day going 2-3. Veteran reliever Johnny Venters is trying to come back form three TJ surgeries. He will be delighted with his work yesterday as he pitched a hitless inning, giving up one walk. This is a guy I’m really rooting for.

Tigers 6 – 3 Blue Jays

My fellow South African Gift Ngoepe homered for the Blue Jays. Aaron Sanchez also made his first start of Spring recording 1IP, 2H, 2ER, 2K. The Blue Jays need him healthy this season. They could just sneak up on the much more fancied Red Sox and Yankees in their division.

Mets 10 – 3 Marlins

Yoenis Cespedes hit a homer in a successful outing. His line 2-3, 3RBIs, HR. Gsellman, fighting for a spot on the rotation, had a solid day with 2IP, H, 0ER, 2K. The Mets rotation battle will be fascinating to watch this over the course of Spring. However, with their injury history, it may come down to the last man standing by end of March.

Cubs 12 – 10 Giants

Madison Bumgarner opened up his Spring Training campaign and it was a day he would rather want to forget. The Giants ace gave up four hits and two runs in 1.2 innings. He did however strike out five Cubs batters. This is nothing to worry about as Bumgarner often gets hit around during Spring Training.

Rangers 4 – 2 Rockies

Matt Bush hoping to become a starter for the Rangers did his chances well with a solid outing of 2IP, H, K, 0ER.

Royals 4 – 4 Athletics

Top Athletics pitching prospect AJ Puk did not disappoint in his first Spring Training game. He pitched two hitless innings with one strikeout. Definitely one to keep an eye on this Spring.

Indians 2 -2 Reds

Jason Kipnis is showing that he is healthy. He homered yesterday against the Reds and went 1-2 with one strikeout.

Mariners 2 – 0 Dodgers

The Dodger bats did not come alive as they combined for only two hits on the day. Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw pitched in his first Spring Training game. he notched one hitless inning of work. Remember he is on a reduced work load this Spring.

Brewers 5 – 1 D-Backs

Another ace, Zack Greinke came out to play yesterday. Greinke recorded 1.2IP, 3H, ER in the D-Backs loss to the Brewers.

Angels 2 -1 Padres

Angels ace Garrett Richards made his first start of Spring against a youthful looking Padres team. Richards posted this line 2IP, H, ER, BB, 3K, HR. He’s another one that will be eager to prove he is healthy in what will be a crucial year for the Angels.

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