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Aaron Nola of the Phillies

MLB

MLB Teams Zeroing In On Opening Day Next Week

MLB Opening Day is rapidly approaching, but it’s apparent that some teams still aren’t ready. With just a week to go, players are still being bounced around and shifted in order to try to find the ideal lineups. This doesn’t leave a lot of time for teams to develop a stable roster.

Phillies Have Their Starter

The Philadelphia Phillies have settled on their starting pitcher. Aaron Nola is going to pitch for the team for Opening Day on April 1 as they take on the Atlanta Braves. Nola becomes the first Phillies pitcher to start four straight season openers.

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The Phillies may know how things are going to be for Opening Day, but the Cincinnati Reds are still putting together their bullpen. Tejay Antone is going to be one of the regular pitchers this season and might start, but the team still hasn’t made up its mind. Antone could be up for the task as starter after having struck out 45 batters and walked 16 in 13 appearances last year.

The Reds have also brought in Heath Hembree to possibly be ready for a spot on the roster. He signed a minor league deal with the team and was given an invite to participate in Spring Training, but will have to find his mojo if he’s going to become a permanent fixture. He bounced between the Phillies and the Boston Red Sox last year, but didn’t impress either team.

Kirilloff Shifted For The Twins

Alex Kirilloff won’t be able to make a regular-season MLB debut this year as expected. The Minnesota Twins have decided that he needs some more time and have optioned him to their alternative training site. Kirilloff could have been in left field, but the Twins want him to develop a little more before putting him out there.

Kirby Yates is not going to be seen in a Toronto Blue Jays uniform this season, at least not as a player on the field. The closer has been dealing with an injured right elbow and an MRI just revealed that he might need Tommy John surgery. If that happens, the 2019 All-Star likely done for the season. Yates just joined the Blue Jays in the offseason on a one-year contract worth $5.5 million.

The New York Mets have much of their pitching rotation in order, but still have a fifth spot to fill. One possibility for that position is Joey Lucchesi, who is in contention alongside Jordan Yamamoto. Lucchesi just pitched 3.5 innings in the team’s Spring Training game against the Houston Astros and, although he had a few bumps, seemed to have impressed the pitching staff. David Peterson is already in the rotation, ready to take the fourth spot, according to Mets manager Luis Rojas.

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Dodgers Figuring Out The Rotation

Like several other teams, the LA Dodgers haven’t figured out their rotation yet, either. Clayton Kershaw, Trevor Bauer and Walker Buehler are high on the list, but David Price is expected to take a secondary role. The Dodgers face the Colorado Rockies on Opening Day and time is running out to get everything in order.

The New York Yankees have a few kinks to still work out. Brett Gardner, Kyle Higashioka, and Tyler Wade are considered guarantees for bench spots, but the Yankees reportedly also like Mike Tauchman and Jay Bruce. They could decide to option Wade in order to make room, according to some MLB insiders, which might help the Yankees strengthen their lead-off positions.

As all teams try to figure out how they’re going to proceed, it has become obvious that overall player development has suffered. The global pandemic and a lack of minor league opportunities have reduced the workload tremendously. In an effort to avoid player injuries, it’s likely that player development is going to take several years before it can return to pre-pandemic levels.

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Erik is a writer and a sports nut who has had the good fortune to be able to experience a wide variety of world sports action up close and personal. He enjoys staying on top of the changing world of athletics and capitalizing on his writing skills to offer a unique take on what's going on in the ever-changing athletics ecosystem.

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