It's cliche, but the Cubs-Cards rivalry just seems to produce some of the best, most intense games. Last night, Albert Almora Jr.'s leaping 8th inning catch robbed Matt Adams of a homer and preserved the Cubs 2-1 lead. Although many will remember the 2016 Cubs for its dominant offense and starting pitching, its defense was perhaps even more remarkable. Almora told Jesse Rogers after the game: "We love defense. We base our organization off defense."
The Astros starting pitching wasn't dreadful last year, it just seemed that way because every member of the staff regressed or plateaued in 2016. Ace Dallas Keuchel's ERA went from 2.48 to 4.55, Collin McHugh went from 3.89 to 4.34, and Lance McCullers stayed the same (3.22) but led the staff in WHIP, not to mention subpar years from Doug Fister and Mike Fiers. All of which makes the start to 2017 encouraging for Astros fans, with Keuchel and McCullers combining for 13 IP, seven hits, one run, and two wins over the Mariners
FanGraphs' Travis Sawchik writes about arguably the best international prospect the game has ever seen. If you're not familiar with Shohei Otani, the piece offers a great recap of his stats and skills along with some great GIFs. If you are familiar with Otani, Sawchik poses several interesting questions worth considering. Would Otani (who is a superb batter and pitcher) be more valuable to AL or NL teams? What sort of strain would playing in the OF during his non-pitching days have on his arm? If he had to lean more one way or the other, would he be better off as an elite pitcher or elite batter? Will Otani ultimately change the game, giving more opportunities to combo pitchers/hitters down the road?