Greene-house Gasses

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Major League Baseball is back - and with the first full week of meaningful action in the books, the league is full of great stories to be told. This week, we’ll be featuring some key rookie debuts - as well as a coaching first, too.

Reds rookie pitcher Hunter Greene made his MLB debut on April 10 against the Atlanta Braves, where he went five innings and gave up three earned runs on four hits, striking out two. On Saturday night in his second major league start versus the Dodgers, the rookie was hitting speeds of up to 102 MPH – the hard-throwing right-hander certainly brought the gas. Three pitches in this at-bat clocked in at over 100 MPH, but this is rather impressive: Greene’s strikeout of Freddie Freeman was on a 101.7 MPH pitch - the 4th-fastest strikeout pitch by a SP in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008). Greene’s elevated fastball seems to be unhittable - he also has a fantastic slider. The 22-year-old also made an entry into the history books on Saturday night, as he set an MLB record for the most 100.0+ mph pitches (38 and counting) in a game.

Mariners pitcher Matt Brash made his major league debut on Tuesday - what was Opening Day for the opposing Chicago White Sox. Though Brash picked up the loss in this outing versus a difficult White Sox lineup, the rookie absolutely showed promise with a fantastic slider and curveball, luring five swings-and-misses and seven called strikes on the curve, good for a 41% CSW (called strikes and whiffs) on that pitch alone. This was the 23-year-old’s major league debut, and we’ll likely hear big things from him again, sooner than later.

Also on Tuesday, history was made by Giants coach Alyssa Nakken: by replacing ejected Giants first base coach Antoan Richardson, Nakken became the first woman to coach on the field in an MLB game. Nakken became an assistant coach in 2020 after working in the team's front office, and has plenty of experience playing first base for Sacramento State’s softball team. Not only was history made, but Giants fans were also treated to a 13-2 home victory over the Padres.

Notable Performances

Controversies aside, Wednesday’s perfect, seven inning 13-strikeout performance from Clayton Kershaw was an absolute pitching masterclass. He retired 21 consecutive batters before being pulled by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts after throwing just 80 pitches (53 for strikes) in his 2022 season debut. Though his injury history was probably taken heavily into consideration – also, keeping in mind it’s April, hats off to the veteran lefty for an incredible start. 20 swinging strikes contributed to an outstanding 41 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs) rate.

Ji-Man Choi is off to a fantastic start to the year. In 26 plate appearances, he’s 10-for-19 (.526), with three doubles, two homers, nine walks drawn and a .526/.654/1.000 triple-slash line, contributing to a rather strapping 1.654 OPS. Choi’s plate discipline has been rather sharp - he’s now walked in 8 of his first 9 games this season helping that league-leading .654 OBP. He’s also got a rather ridiculous chase rate at 6.8% (lowest in the major leagues as of Sunday night) - not to mention wOBA against breaking pitches looks mighty outstanding too, at .856.

Seth Beer has been tapping into some good hitting. On Wednesday, he delivered the game-typing RBI single off Astros closer Ryan Pressly in the 10th inning to help the Diamondbacks to a victory. Don’t look at the rest of the Arizona lineup on any given day, but the 25-year-old carries a slick .400/.455/.600 triple slash line, including a homer, a double, five RBI and two walks drawn. He’s also the team leader in batting average, RBI, and slugging percentage.

If you enjoy a good start-to-the-season bounceback story, here’s one right here: in his second start of 2022, Marco Gonzalez threw the Astros off for seven innings on Friday, allowing just four hits while walking no batters to limit Houston to one run. Gonzales tossed 63-of-93 pitches for strikes while generating seven whiffs to strike out six batters. His first start of the season versus Minnesota was less successful: the southpaw looked mighty hittable that day, and scraped through two innings, giving up three homers. He’s worth keeping an eye on.

Nolan Arenado was aptly named National League Player of the Week on April 11 – the first of 2022. The 31-year-old third baseman is up to four homers on the year with an incredible Major Leagues-leading 1.514 OPS through 24 plate appearances over six games. He also is leading the National League in doubles and runs scored. Not to mention that Arenado’s also been flashing some amazing defense at the hot corner; he’ll continue to be a fun player for Cardinals fans – or people who enjoy web gems – to watch.

If a 221 wRC+ after the first few days of major league action sounds fictional, we’ll assure you it’s absolutely real. Steven Kwan might be the emerging fantasy story of April; perhaps his most amazing feat was seeing 116 pitches without a swing-and-miss. That admirable streak finally ended on Wednesday. Kwan might be one of the hottest waiver pickups right now – in 37 plate appearances, he boasts a .385/.541/.538 triple-slash line including a triple, a double, five RBI and eight walks drawn.

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Honor Roll

Justin Verlander (8 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K on Saturday), C.J. Cron (2-for-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI on Saturday), Adam Frazier (4-for-5, 2B, 3B, 2 R, 4 RBI on Friday), Carlos Rodon (7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 9 K on Friday), Jarred Kelenic (2-for-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 SB on Thursday) Joe Musgrove (6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 6 K, 0 BB on Thursday), Logan Webb (8 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K on Wednesday), Ke’Bryan Hayes (4-for-4, 2 R, 2B, RBI on Wednesday), Tylor Megill (5 1/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K on Tuesday), Thairo Estrada (​​2-for-5, 3 RBI on Tuesday), Alek Manoah (6 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 4 BB, 7 K on Monday), George Springer (3-for-5, HR, 2B, 3 RBI on Monday)

Injury Report

The Orioles have transferred John Means from the 10-day injured list to the 60-day injured list with a left elbow sprain. Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said on Friday that the left-hander is going to be out "for a while" and when asked if it was possible that this could be a season-ending injury, he replied he didn't know. Hyde also mentioned that second opinions were in the process of being gathered, but fantasy managers should expect Means to be on the shelf until at least mid-June.

The Tigers placed shortstop Javier Báez on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to April 13, with right thumb soreness. The 29-year-old shortstop originally injured his thumb back on Opening Day, and aggravated the issue on a swing a few days later. Though X-rays came back negative, an IL stint will give him extra time to recover and avoid any further aggravation.

Tigers right hander Casey Mize was placed on the 10-day injured list on Friday. He was diagnosed with a medial collateral ligament sprain in his right elbow, according to Tigers manager AJ Hinch. The 24-year-old experienced some discomfort during a throwing session between starts earlier this week and is expected to miss at least one turn through the Tigers' rotation. While Mize is undergoing further testing to determine the best course of action going forward, Michael Pineda or Wily Peralta are likely to fill Mize’s rotation spot.

Batting Around

And the Oscar goes to….

On April 12, in the midst of a 14-3 blowout of the Washington Nationals, Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud found a unique opportunity to bust out his acting chops. Nats second baseman Dee Strange-Gordon played the role of a position player on the mound – and worked d’Arnaud enough to eventually take a blazing 55 MPH pitch to the shoulder. d’Arnaud instantly crumbled to the ground upon impact so convincingly, you’d swear there’d be a cartoonish X over each of his eyes.

After some laughs were had by both the Nats and Braves dugouts, the 33-year-old catcher eventually rose from his sudden pelting with a smiling face. Strange-Gordon and d’Arnaud would proceed to banter on Instagram later; Strange-Gordon was happy to see that d’Arnaud was, in fact, alive and well. The Braves eventually won 16-4 – d’Arnaud insisted in a post-game interview that he was okay. Hopefully he experienced no lingering soreness after.

That wraps up the first full week of what’s gonna be an amazing season - we’ll be back next week with more great stories, accomplishments, and accolades from around Major League Baseball.