Ohtani Silences Astros In Perfect Game Bid

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Shohei Ohtani came within 11 outs of perfection Wednesday night against the Astros, authoring one of the most dominant pitching performances of his increasingly legendary career. The 27-year-old two-way sensation appeared to be on the verge of etching his name into the record books as the first pitcher to throw a perfect game since Felix Hernandez accomplished the feat back in 2012, retiring 16 consecutive batters to open the contest, before Astros’ catcher Jason Castro lined a base hit into shallow right-center field with one out in the sixth inning. He issued a two-out walk to rookie shortstop Jeremy Pena later in the frame, but managed to wriggle out of the jam without any damage. With the Angels leading by a touchdown and the possibility of a perfect game off the table, Ohtani was lifted from the contest after throwing just 81 pitches (55 strikes) over six shutout innings.

Ohtani’s overpowering effort showcased his immense strikeout upside and offered a glimpse at the heights he could potentially reach given his tremendous raw stuff. He matched a career-high with 12 strikeouts, generated an eye-popping 20 swinging strikes, including 11 on his hard-biting slider alone, and finished with a stratospheric 47 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs). He also went 2-for-4 with a two-run double at the plate in this one. Simply put, it was one of the most electrifying all-around single-game performances in recent memory. He’ll look to carry the momentum into his next start on Wednesday against the Guardians in Los Angeles.

Starting Pitchers with an EDGE

Brandon Woodruff vs. Pirates

6.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K

37% CSW, 18 swinging strikes

Woodruff has reeled off 11 consecutive scoreless innings with an 11/3 K/BB ratio over his last two starts since a calamitous season-opening performance against the Cubs on April 9. The hard-throwing 29-year-old righty yielded just one hit and a pair of walks over six shutout frames Wednesday afternoon against the Pirates to collect his second win of the 2022 campaign. Exactly half of his 18 swinging strikes came on his four-seam fastball as he completely overpowered a rebuilding Pittsburgh lineup in this one. He’s in line for a rematch against the Pirates on Tuesday in his next start.

Carlos Rodon vs. Mets

5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K

34% CSW, 19 swinging strikes

It’s become abundantly clear over the last two seasons that Rodon, when healthy, is one of the most dominant starting pitchers in baseball. The electrifying 29-year-old lefty scattered five baserunners (three hits and a pair of walks) over five scoreless innings Wednesday evening in a win over the Mets. He completely flummoxed New York’s formidable lineup, generating an astronomical 17 swinging strikes on his four-seam fastball alone and finished with a robust 34 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs). He’s allowed just two runs on eight hits with a sublimed 29/6 K/BB ratio across 17 innings (three starts) this season.

MacKenzie Gore vs. Reds

5.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K

28% CSW, 11 swinging strikes

On the heels of a strong major-league debut last Friday against the Braves, Gore put together a stellar follow-up performance Wednesday afternoon, reeling off five scoreless innings in a win over the Reds. The 23-year-old left-hander, who was universally regarded as the top pitching prospect in baseball just a few years ago, generated 11 swinging strikes and finished with a 28 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs). He’s allowed just two runs on seven hits with a 10/4 K/BB ratio across 10 1/3 innings (two starts). His extremely encouraging early success, combined with a strong performance in spring training as well, means the Padres are going to have a difficult time sending him back to Triple-A El Paso if he keeps pitching this well. Gore should be rostered in all fantasy formats until further notice.

Hitters with an EDGE

Freddie Freeman vs. Braves

3-for-4, R, HR (2), 2 RBI

Freeman came back to haunt his former team again Wednesday afternoon, golfing a two-run homer into the right-field seats at Dodger Stadium off veteran right-hander Charlie Morton in the opening frame. The 32-year-old slugger went on to notch a pair of additional hits in the Dodgers’ victory and is hitting a sizzling .333/.400/.521 with nine runs scored, two homers and seven RBI across 55 plate appearances this season.

Seth Beer vs. Nationals

3-for-4, 3 RBI

Beer collected three hits and also plated three runs Wednesday evening in the Diamondbacks’ blowout victory over the Nationals. The 25-year-old burgeoning slugger has torn the cover off the ball so far this season, recording a sublime .438/.486/.625 triple-slash line with three runs scored, one home run and eight RBI across 35 plate appearances. He’s certainly been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the league’s decision to implement a universal designated hitter this season and should be worthy of a roster spot for fantasy managers in deeper mixed leagues moving forward.

Jurickson Profar vs. Reds

2-for-4, 2 R, HR (4), 2 RBI, SB (1)

Profar delivered an epic statsheet-stuffing fantasy performance Wednesday afternoon in the Padres’ blowout victory over the Reds, launching his fourth round-tripper of the season and also stealing his first base of the year. The versatile 29-year-old outfielder, who took Reds’ righty Vladimir Gutierrez deep for a two-run shot in the fourth inning of this one, is off to a phenomenal start at the dish this season, slashing .256/.388/.615 with seven runs scored, four homers, 11 RBI and one steal in 49 plate appearances over 13 games.

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Closing Time

Josh Hader vs. Pirates

1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (6th save)

Hader was summoned to protect a two-run lead in the ninth inning Wednesday afternoon against the Pirates and needed just 15 pitches (11 strikes) to slam the door. He’s tied for the major league lead with six saves already this season.

Corey Knebel vs. Rockies

1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (2nd save)

Knebel came on to guard a three-run lead in the ninth inning Wednesday afternoon versus the Rockies and required just 12 pitches to preserve the victory. He appears to be locked in as the Phillies’ primary closer until further notice.

Jorge Lopez vs. Athletics

1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (2nd save)

Lopez appears to have emerged as the Orioles’ primary closer at the outset of the regular season, recording the final five outs of Wednesday’s one-run victory over the Athletics to notch his second save of the year. The 29-year-old righty failed to make it as a starting pitcher in Baltimore, but has experienced a rebirth as a high-leverage, late-inning reliever this season, allowing just two runs on four hits with a 9/4 K/BB ratio in seven innings so far. He’s worthy of a roster spot for fantasy managers in deeper mixed leagues.

Giovanny Gallegos vs. Marlins

1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K (3rd save)

Gallegos came on to guard a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning after Nolan Arenado delivered a go-ahead homer in the top of the frame. He gave up a one-out single to Avisail Garcia and also walked ensuing batter BrIan Anderson, but managed to whiff Jacob Stallings and get Miguel Rojas to ground into a game-ending fielder’s choice.

Aroldis Chapman vs. Tigers

1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (3rd save)

Chapman has managed to rebound from a pair of rough outings last week with back-to-back scoreless appearances against the Tigers. The flame-throwing 34-year-old lefty was brought on to guard a two-run lead in the ninth inning Wednesday night and managed to work around a leadoff single by Willi Castro to preserve the victory.

Jake McGee vs. Mets

1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (2nd save)

McGee was called upon to protect a three-run lead in the ninth inning Wednesday night and tip-toed around a leadoff walk by James McCann to preserve the Giants’ victory. The 35-year-old left-hander figures to garner the majority of the save opportunities in San Francisco this season, but fantasy managers should still expect Camilo Doval or Tyler Rogers to vulture the occasional save chance moving forward.

Scott Barlow vs. Twins

1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (1st save)

Barlow was summoned to guard a two-run lead in the ninth inning Wednesday evening against the Twins. He gave up a one-out single to Max Kepler, but managed to induce a game-ending double-play ball off the bat of Gary Sanchez to escape unscathed.

EDGE Priority Pickup

Tony Gonsolin, SP/RP, Dodgers

Gonsolin quietly made the Dodgers’ season-opening rotation and has reeled off a trio of impressive starts, including six scoreless innings Wednesday afternoon in a win over the Braves. The 27-year-old right-hander hasn’t generated lofty strikeout totals so far, but he’s been excellent at limiting hard contact, which has benefited him tremendously from a run prevention standpoint. He’s allowed just one run on nine hits with an 8/7 K/BB ratio across 13 innings (three starts) to open the 2022 campaign. He’s flying a bit under the radar at the moment, but he’s primed for success, especially given his tremendous surrounding cast in Los Angeles. He’s in line for a tasty road matchup against the floundering Diamondbacks on Tuesday in his next start.

Thursday’s Matchup of the Day

Alexander Wells (Orioles) vs. Paul Blackburn (Athletics) - 3:37 PM ET

With just 10 games on Thursday’s slate, there aren’t a ton of intriguing fantasy storylines to monitor. However, there seems to be a legitimate streaming opportunity for fantasy managers when Blackburn squares off against the Orioles on Thursday afternoon in Oakland. he soft-tossing 28-year-old righty has yielded just two runs on eight hits with a 10/1 K/BB ratio across a pair of challenging road starts against the Rays and Blue Jays this season. He isn't overpowering, but he boasts stellar control and has been able to keep the ball in the yard so far this season. He’s a worthwhile gamble for fantasy managers in deeper mixed leagues.

American League Quick Hits: Mike Trout (hand) is expected to return to the Angels’ starting lineup Friday against the Orioles. … George Springer was removed from Wednesday's game against the Red Sox with a forearm contusion after being hit by a pitch. … J.D. Martinez was removed from Wednesday's game against the Blue Jays with left adductor tightness. … Byron Buxton (knee) participated in baseball activities Wednesday. … Lucas Giolito (abdomen) will start Sunday against the Twins. … Astros placed 2B Jose Altuve on the 10-day injured list with a left hamstring strain. … Tigers placed RHP Matt Manning on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to April 17, with right shoulder inflammation. … Red Sox activated C Christian Vazquez from the COVID-19 injured list. … Guardians placed INF Owen Miller on the injured list. … Jose Ramirez went 2-for-7 with a grand slam and five RBI, leading the Guardians to a doubleheader sweep against the White Sox. … Raimel Tapia clobbered a two-run homer and also stole a base in the Blue Jays’ win over the Red Sox. … Francisco Mejia went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer and three RBI in the Rays’ rain-shortened six-inning victory over the Cubs. … Anthony Rizzo went 2-for-4 with a solo homer and two RBI in the Yankees’ win over the Tigers. … Miguel Cabrera went 3-for-4 in the Tigers’ loss to the Yankees and is just one hit shy of becoming the seventh player in major league history to reach 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. … Shane Bieber posted seven strikeouts over six innings of one-run ball in a win over the White Sox. … Jose Berrios allowed one run over six innings in a win over the Red Sox. … Jordan Lyles fired five scoreless innings in a win over the Athletics. … Logan Gilbert fired 6 2/3 scoreless innings in a win over the Rangers. … Daniel Lynch spun five shutout innings in a win over the Twins. … Luis Severino yielded one run over five innings in a no-decision against the Tigers. … Eduardo Rodriguez gave up three runs over six innings in a no-decision against the Yankees. … Drew Rasmussen allowed two runs over three innings in a no-decision against the Cubs. … Triston McKenzie allowed one run over 4 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the White Sox. … Dane Dunning surrendered three runs over four innings in a loss to the Mariners. … Daulton Jefferies was charged with one run (zero earned) over six innings in a tough-luck loss to the Orioles. … Chris Paddack allowed two runs over five innings in a loss to the Royals. … Nick Pivetta surrendered five runs over four innings in a loss to the Blue Jays. … Jake Odorizzi was charged with six runs (three earned) and recorded just two outs in a loss to the Angels. … Dallas Keuchel was obliterated for 10 runs (eight earned) over one inning in a loss to the Guardians. … Jimmy Lambert gave up two runs over 3 2/3 innings in a loss to the Guardians. … Jalen Beeks tossed two scoreless innings to pick up a win in relief against the Cubs. … Tyler Danish recorded five strikeouts over two shutout innings in a relief appearance against the Blue Jays.

National League Quick Hits: Braves acquired RHP Jesse Chavez and cash considerations from the Cubs for LHP Sean Newcomb. … Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Gavin Lux (back) should be ready to return on Friday. … Dodgers placed LHP Andrew Heaney on the 10-day injured list with left shoulder discomfort. Tyler Anderson will start in his absence Saturday against the Padres. … Josh Bell was removed from Wednesday’s game against the Diamondbacks with left knee tightness. … Reds placed C Tyler Stephenson on the 7-day concussion injured list. … Mets activated OF Mark Canha from the COVID-19 injured list. … Nolan Arenado walloped a go-ahead two-run homer in the ninth inning, leading the Cardinals to a victory over the Marlins. … Brandon Belt clobbered his fourth round-tripper of the season in the Giants’ win over the Mets. … Daulton Varsho slugged a two-run homer and tallied three RBI in the Diamondbacks’ lopsided win over the Nationals. … Keston Hiura launched a three-run homer, leading the Brewers to a victory over the Pirates. … Johan Camargo went 4-for-5 with a three-run homer in the Phillies’ win over the Rockies. … Juan Soto went 2-for-3 with a walk in the Nationals’ blowout loss to the Diamondbacks. … Ryan McMahon went 2-for-5 with three RBI in the Rockies’ defeat at the hands of the Phillies. … Ke’Bryan Hayes hit a two-run single in the Pirates’ loss to the Brewers. … Pete Alonso tallied three hits in the Mets’ loss to the Giants … Merrill Kelly yielded one run over six innings in a win over the Nationals. … Sandy Alcantara fired eight scoreless innings in a no-decision against the Cardinals. … Miles Mikolas tossed five shutout innings in a no-decision against the Marlins. … Zach Eflin surrendered four runs over 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Rockies. … German Marquez coughed up four runs on three homers over six innings in a no-decision against the Phillies. … Marcus Stroman registered seven strikeouts and was charged with eight runs (seven earned) over 4 1/3 innings in a loss to the Rays. … Mitch Keller posted seven strikeouts and allowed one run over 5 1/3 innings in a loss to the Brewers. … Charlie Morton allowed four runs over 5 1/3 innings in a loss to the Dodgers. … Vladimir Gutierrez coughed up three runs over 4 2/3 innings in a loss to the Padres. … Erick Fedde was torched for seven runs (six earned) over 3 2/3 innings in a loss to the Diamondbacks.