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BREAKING: Mets move Harvey to bullpen

MLB.com @DKramer_

Matt Harvey is out of the Mets' rotation.

To make room for the return of left-hander Jason Vargas, who is starting a rehab assignment for Triple-A Las Vegas on Monday, Harvey has been informed that the club will move him to the bullpen, according to manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday.

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Matt Harvey is out of the Mets' rotation.

To make room for the return of left-hander Jason Vargas, who is starting a rehab assignment for Triple-A Las Vegas on Monday, Harvey has been informed that the club will move him to the bullpen, according to manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday.

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"I think he's motivated to go out there and show everybody that he can start again at some point," said Callaway.

The decision comes on the heels of Harvey's worst start of the young season, in which he gave up six earned runs in six innings in a 12-4 loss to the Braves on Thursday. For the season, Harvey is 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA, experiencing a significant velocity decline. Asked after Thursday's game if he would accept a Minor League assignment -- which he has the right to decline -- Harvey would not answer, saying he's a Major League starting pitcher.

Tweet from @AnthonyDiComo: Here's Mickey Callaway discussing Matt Harvey's move to the Mets' bullpen: pic.twitter.com/MlcgXqhBqD

"I think he made that pretty clear yesterday, that he wants to be a starter," Callaway said. "And I don't blame him. I think everybody wants to start. What we are trying to do as a team is do what's best for the team and for the players."

Harvey has only pitched in relief once in 105 career Major League outings, last Sept. 23 after Noah Syndergaard returned from a right lat injury that sidelined him nearly five months.

When Vargas rejoins the club from his surgically repaired right hand injury, the Mets' rotation will consist of Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler. By starting on Monday, Vargas will be slated to make his '18 Major League debut on Saturday in San Diego.

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.

New York Mets, Matt Harvey

Judge crushes No. 6; now fastest to 62

MLB.com @BryanHoch

NEW YORK -- The Yankees gave Aaron Judge the green light on a 3-0 count, and he knew exactly what to do with it.

Judge teed off on a 92.6-mph fastball from the Blue Jays' Marcus Stroman in the third inning of Saturday afternoon's 9-1 win over Toronto, clobbering his sixth home run of the season to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead at the time.

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NEW YORK -- The Yankees gave Aaron Judge the green light on a 3-0 count, and he knew exactly what to do with it.

Judge teed off on a 92.6-mph fastball from the Blue Jays' Marcus Stroman in the third inning of Saturday afternoon's 9-1 win over Toronto, clobbering his sixth home run of the season to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead at the time.

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The blast was the first of Judge's career on a 3-0 count, the only count he had not yet homered on.

It was Judge's fourth career homer off Stroman, and it came off of Judge's bat at 116.1 mph, making it the eighth-hardest-hit homer in the Majors this year. It was projected by Statcast™ to travel 443 feet to left field.

The shot also marked Judge's 62nd career home run in 201 games played, keeping ahead of Mark McGwire's 1987-88 pace for the fastest to reach the milestone. Judge was also the fastest to 60 and 61 home runs. McGwire hit his 62nd homer in his 205th career game.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

Optimism abounds for these 10 surprise teams

MLB.com @RichardJustice

Are we enjoying watching the Braves and Phillies and Pirates play baseball? All that youth and energy and winning is wildly entertaining. Suddenly, possibilities abound.

That's what happens with teams that aren't quite sure how good they are. As they begin to win, confidence grows, and suddenly these teams are capable of upending postseason races.

Are we enjoying watching the Braves and Phillies and Pirates play baseball? All that youth and energy and winning is wildly entertaining. Suddenly, possibilities abound.

That's what happens with teams that aren't quite sure how good they are. As they begin to win, confidence grows, and suddenly these teams are capable of upending postseason races.

Will it last? Who cares? Instead of pondering that one, why not sit back and enjoy the show? Yes, it's a long season. Strengths are revealed, weaknesses exposed and that's the genius of a six-month schedule.

Ten teams considered borderline contenders enter the weekend on an early roll, so let's offer fans reason for optimism.

1. Mets

OK, Mets fans, take a big deep therapeutic breath. Did you expect your guys to play .917 baseball all season? So far, the Mets have checked three important boxes: rotation, bullpen and offense. While Matt Harvey is Topic A, it's the poor defense that should worry fans. Bottom line: The strengths outweigh the weaknesses.

2. D-backs

Regression? What regression? The D-backs will have plenty of offense once third baseman Jake Lamb and outfielder Steven Souza Jr. return from the disabled list. But the reason for optimism is a pitching staff that has been the National League's best this season. The front four of Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, Patrick Corbin and Zack Godley was terrific last season and probably is the NL's best in 2018.

3. Angels

They are the real deal. First, they mash. Only the Red Sox have scored more runs. As long as the rotation stays intact, the Angels are going to be in it until the end. The Red Sox beat up on the Angels' starting pitching this week. Not to worry, as long as Shohei Ohtani, Garrett Richards and the others stay healthy and can continue to take the ball, the Angels will contend.

Video: LAA@KC: Trout crushes a two-run homer to left field

4. Blue Jays

Right-hander Aaron Sanchez has had three straight solid starts and continues to offer every indication that he's going to be as dominant as he was two seasons ago when he led the American League with a 3.00 ERA. The Blue Jays have won five of seven while their best player, third baseman Josh Donaldson, is on the DL with a sore shoulder. He probably will return next week.

5. Pirates

The Pirates have enough pitching to stay in contention. Right-handers Trevor Williams and Jameson Taillon have done a nice job anchoring the rotation, and Chad Kuhl is coming off his best start of the season. Meanwhile, two of the organization's top prospects, Mitch Keller and Taylor Hearn, are off to great starts at Double-A.

Video: COL@PIT: Kuhl hold Rockies to one over six innings

6. Twins

Only the Astros, Red Sox and Indians have a lower staff ERA in the American League. Jose Berrios has been the best starter in a rotation that also has Lance Lynn, Jake Odorizzi and Ervin Santana (who is on the DL). Fernando Rodney and Addison Reed have been tremendous additions to a solid bullpen.

7. Braves

The NL's best offense is a good place to start. Only the D-backs and Phillies have lower ERAs among all NL teams. Mike Foltynewicz and Brandon McCarthy have been dominant at the front of the rotation, and the first month of the season has amounted to a coming-out party for shortstop Dansby Swanson. Top prospect Ronald Acuna Jr. could make his Major League debut any time.

Video: NYM@ATL: Albies hammers a Thor fastball for a big fly

8. Phillies

Is there a weakness? First, the Phillies have one of the NL's best rotations, led by right-hander Jake Arrieta, who has been a perfect addition. Offensively, only the Braves and Pirates have scored more runs in the NL, and Rhys Hoskins is playing his way into the NL MVP Award conversation.

9. Cardinals

The Cardinals got things rolling during a 5-1 road trip to Cincinnati and Chicago. Adam Wainwright, who could be the key to the rotation, had his best start of the season Tuesday at Wrigley Field. Once Marcell Ozuna gets hot -- and he will -- the offense will be fine.

Video: STL@CHC: Wainwright tallies 1st win of season

10. Rockies

The Rockies have recovered from a slow start with a nice run by the rotation. Right-handers Chad Bettis and German Marquez are pitching the best baseball of their careers, and the three new relievers -- Wade Davis, Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw -- entered Friday having allowed two earned runs in their last 10 2/3 innings.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Big frame boosts Yanks, Montgomery over Jays

MLB.com @BryanHoch

NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge hit a towering homer and the Yankees sent 12 men to the plate in their biggest inning of the season, supporting Jordan Montgomery's solid outing in a 9-1 victory over the Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

Judge cracked a two-run blast as part of a three-RBI performance and Miguel Andujar ripped a three-run double that highlighted a seven-run sixth inning, helping the Yankees topple Toronto starter Marcus Stroman en route to their fourth win in six games.

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NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge hit a towering homer and the Yankees sent 12 men to the plate in their biggest inning of the season, supporting Jordan Montgomery's solid outing in a 9-1 victory over the Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

Judge cracked a two-run blast as part of a three-RBI performance and Miguel Andujar ripped a three-run double that highlighted a seven-run sixth inning, helping the Yankees topple Toronto starter Marcus Stroman en route to their fourth win in six games.

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Video: TOR@NYY: Judge crushes two-run home run on 3-0 pitch

Montgomery was the beneficiary of the run support, rolling to his second straight victory after evading early trouble. Montgomery pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the third inning and limited damage to a run in a high-traffic fifth, completing six frames of one-run, four-hit ball. He walked three and struck out five.

Judge's homer was the 62nd of his career in his 201st game, keeping him ahead of Mark McGwire's pace as the quickest player to reach that milestone. McGwire needed 205 games with the 1986-88 Athletics to reach 62 homers.

Video: TOR@NYY: Andujar plates three on bases-loaded double

Steve Pearce's fifth-inning RBI single off Montgomery trimmed the Yankees' lead to a run, but New York erupted in the sixth as the first five batters reached against Stroman. Didi Gregorius ripped a run-scoring single to right field and Judge slid home safely on a dropped throw error by catcher Luke Maile before Andujar laced his big hit toward the bullpen in left-center field.

Brett Gardner lifted a sacrifice fly and Judge completed the scoring with a run-scoring single to left. Stroman was charged with eight runs (six earned) and five hits over 5 1/3 innings. Toronto has lost all five of Stroman's starts at Yankee Stadium since the beginning of 2016.

Video: TOR@NYY: Gardner plates Andujar with a sac fly

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
It got lost in the noise of the seven-run outburst, but Montgomery's third-inning escape helped turn around the afternoon. Montgomery was staring at a bases-loaded, one-out jam after a walk to Pearce prompted a mound visit. An eight-pitch battle heavy on breaking balls followed with Teoscar Hernandez, with Montgomery getting the outfielder to wave at an 80.2-mph curve for strike three. Yangervis Solarte then popped up another curve to end the inning.

Video: TOR@NYY: Montgomery ends bases-loaded threat in 3rd

SOUND SMART
The Yankees' seven-run sixth inning was their highest-scoring frame since bringing home seven runs in the eighth inning on June 14, 2016, at Colorado. It was their highest-scoring inning at Yankee Stadium since tallying nine in the seventh on Aug. 4, 2015, vs. Boston.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar, Aaron Judge, Jordan Montgomery

Back tightness lands Zobrist on DL

MLB.com

DENVER -- The Chicago Cubs on Saturday placed infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist on the 10-day disabled list (retroactive to April 18) with back tightness and recalled David Bote from Triple-A Iowa.

Bote, who will wear uniform number 13, will join the first Major League roster of his career and be available for the Cubs tonight when they continue their three-game series against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.

DENVER -- The Chicago Cubs on Saturday placed infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist on the 10-day disabled list (retroactive to April 18) with back tightness and recalled David Bote from Triple-A Iowa.

Bote, who will wear uniform number 13, will join the first Major League roster of his career and be available for the Cubs tonight when they continue their three-game series against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.

Chicago Cubs, Ben Zobrist

Fowler crushes solo homer in new lineup spot

MLB.com @JoeTrezz

ST. LOUIS -- Dexter Fowler arrived at Busch Stadium on Saturday to see a bobblehead created in his likeness, and his name in an unfamiliar slot in the order.

In an effort to jump-start the right fielder's slow start to the season, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny dropped his typical leadoff hitter to fifth in the order.

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ST. LOUIS -- Dexter Fowler arrived at Busch Stadium on Saturday to see a bobblehead created in his likeness, and his name in an unfamiliar slot in the order.

In an effort to jump-start the right fielder's slow start to the season, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny dropped his typical leadoff hitter to fifth in the order.

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Whether Fowler was ready to break out, or responded to the move, nobody can know. But the optics certainly looked good when Fowler homered in the sixth inning off Homer Bailey, his solo shot extending the Cardinals' lead to 3-0.

"Just trying to get him going," Matheny said pregame of Fowler, who entered play hitting .176.

Fowler struggled in the leadoff spot early last season before Matheny swapped him and Matt Carpenter, who was struggling in the No. 3 hole. Overall, Fowler hit .205/.308/.390 from the leadoff spot in 2017, compared to .271/.361/.447 out of the No. 3 hole.

Matheny's decision to drop Fowler for the first time this season came on an afternoon the club was without its typical No.2 hitter as well, with Tommy Pham missing his second game this week due to a groin tightness.

Those two factors sparked a round of sweeping lineup changes. Fowler was sent to fifth, where Jose Martinez had been planted. Martinez rose to third, and Carpenter raised to leadoff. Yadier Molina, whom Matheny routinely references as the team's "best baserunner," was penciled into the No. 2 slot.

"Listen, we've been winning some games. But how can we get our offense going to where it's really clicking?" Matheny said. 'We've gone a number of games here trying to get guys going in the same spot. Sometimes you do something different, whether it's in the work or in the batting order position. Sometimes the psychology of the game is real. The analytics don't like it, but it's real, and we have to pay attention to it."

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com.

St. Louis Cardinals, Dexter Fowler

You'll never guess who hit 2018's longest HR

Franchy's titanic blast puts Padres on the board, but his misplay in center is costly
MLB.com

PHOENIX -- A prodigious fourth-inning blast to open the scoring. An untimely eighth-inning misplay that both squandered right-hander Tyson Ross's bid for the first no-hitter in Padres history and a lead. And then a sacrifice bunt in the ninth that contributed to the winning rally in a 4-1 victory over the NL West-leading D-backs at Chase Field on Friday night.

It was quite a night for Padres outfielder Franchy Cordero, as is often the case with talented young players with only 39 games in the big leagues.

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PHOENIX -- A prodigious fourth-inning blast to open the scoring. An untimely eighth-inning misplay that both squandered right-hander Tyson Ross's bid for the first no-hitter in Padres history and a lead. And then a sacrifice bunt in the ninth that contributed to the winning rally in a 4-1 victory over the NL West-leading D-backs at Chase Field on Friday night.

It was quite a night for Padres outfielder Franchy Cordero, as is often the case with talented young players with only 39 games in the big leagues.

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The play that will be played and replayed from this game is the one that might have cost Ross a no-hitter. There were two outs in the eighth, with the Padres up 1-0 with a man on second base. Ross was over his career high for pitches thrown in a start, so whether he would or could have finished a no-hitter will forever remain an unanswered question.

D-backs pinch-hitter Christian Walker made it a moot point, lining a ball to center field straight at Cordero.

"It was a ball that was hit hard and it was going right over my head," Cordero said.

He hesitated, taking a step in at first, then turned and started running back towards the wall. The ball landed just out of his reach, an RBI double that ended the no-hitter and tied the game.

It wasn't exactly lightly hit at 102 mph off the bat, but it also shouldn't have been a terribly difficult play for Cordero to make. That's reflected in the 99 percent Statcast™ Catch Probability, which is to say that similar opportunities -- based on time, distance, and direction -- since 2015 have been made almost every single time. That's easily seen when you compare Cordero's opportunity to a nearly identical Carlos Gomez catch from 2016.

 Video: SD@ARI: Statcast™ compares two 99% probability catches

It's not just the visuals, either; the numbers here are all but exactly the same. Cordero started 332 feet from home plate, and needed to run 50 feet in 4.7 seconds, straight back. Gomez started 331 feet from home, and needed to run 50 feet in 4.8 seconds. They were, essentially, the same play. One looked routine. One ended a no-hitter.

"It wasn't the cleanest break," Padres manager Andy Green said. "I know he's the type of kid that'll go home thinking about that, how he should've made that catch. Franchy gives everything he has out there. He's plenty fast enough to make some amazing plays, and he's done that. That one was just a tough read off the bat."

That he rebounded from that play to lay down a beautiful sacrifice bunt that helped Eric Hosmer advance to third, and eventually score during the ninth-inning rally spoke volumes about Cordero's resilience.

"The bunt was nice, too," Green said. "Getting that down, making them make a play. We wouldn't have even been in that situation if Franchy hadn't swung the bat like he did earlier in the game."

And swing the bat he did. He absolutely crushed a solo home run in the fourth, a 489-foot blast that gave the Padres the 1-0 lead that they were trying to protect pretty much the entire game.

The ball, which hit off Chase Field's center-field scoreboard, was the longest by any Padres player in the Statcast™ era. It had an exit velocity of 116.3 mph, making it the hardest hit ball by a Padre and it was the longest home run at Chase Field recorded by Statcast™.

"I don't know how they said that wasn't 500 feet," Green said. "Pretty sure it was."

After the game, Cordero was asked if he'd ever hit a ball like that. Before he could answer, someone else did.

"Nope, I can tell you that right away," said Hosmer, who was at the locker right next to Cordero's. "I haven't seen a ball like that."

Cordero, who acknowledged he missed a few pitches last series against the Dodgers, made up for those with one swing.

"Honestly, I'm just happy to be able to go out and execute a swing like that," Cordero said through an interpreter. "I've never done anything like that, but yeah, I'm glad the work's showing up."

He now has three home runs -- equaling his 2017 total -- in 34 at-bats this season.

"It's an electric bat," Green said. "Put the ball in play and it doesn't stay in play often, actually. There's a ton of power there. He's always hitting balls hard."

Justin Toscano is an associate reporter for MLB.com.

San Diego Padres, Franchy Cordero

Pham slowly recovering from groin tightness

Cardinals face bullpen decisions; Cecil out indefinitely
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

ST. LOUIS -- The tightness in his right groin not dissipated, Tommy Pham was out of the lineup Saturday for the second time in three days.

Manager Mike Matheny said Pham could be available off the bench, as he was Thursday.

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ST. LOUIS -- The tightness in his right groin not dissipated, Tommy Pham was out of the lineup Saturday for the second time in three days.

Manager Mike Matheny said Pham could be available off the bench, as he was Thursday.

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Pham first felt tightness in his groin during the ninth inning of Tuesday's 5-3 win over the Cubs, after which Matheny and Pham agreed to be cautious with the injury. Pham passed a series of performance tests Wednesday then rested Thursday, before retuning to the lineup for Friday's 4-2 win against the Reds. Pham scored twice and reached base three times in the win.

Matheny said Pham didn't aggravate the injury.

"It's still from the other day," Matheny said. "We were hoping it would progress better, but it didn't."

Pham was not available for comment, but characterized the injury earlier this week as something that shouldn't keep him out of the lineup.

Decisions looming
A rare shift in roster philosophy has the Cardinals preparing for a decision in regard to their bullpen, which at the moment is unusually small, albeit by choice.

In promoting slugging outfield prospect Tyler O'Neill this week, the club opted for an extra bench player over an eight-man 'pen, sacrificing the luxury of an additional reliever Matheny has often enjoyed. All of which complicates the pending return of two relievers from the disabled list.

Right-hander Sam Tuivailala (left knee) and lefty Ryan Sherriff (fractured big toe) could both be ready to return shortly after embarking on rehab assignments next week at Triple-A Memphis. Sherriff has remaining Minor League options, meaning the club can assign him to Memphis without issue. The tougher decision will come with Tuivailala, who is out of options and would need to pass through waivers before being sent down.

With veterans Greg Holland and Luke Gregerson in the fold, rookie Jordan Hicks pitching extremely well, and that extra spot being filled by a position player, the club's number of optionable relievers is limited. The most likely candidate appears to be Matt Bowman, one of the club's most called-upon arms over the last three seasons.

Video: STL@CHC: Statcast™ tracks Hicks' velo in perfect 7th

Right-hander Dominic Leone also has an option remaining. The club could also regulate back to a four-man bench, or try to squeeze Tuivailala through waivers, leaving him exposed.

"I'm going to try to worry about pitching," said Tuivailala, who was optioned back and forth from Memphis often last season. "That's the only thing I can control right now. I'm used to blocking all that other stuff out."

Update on Cecil
Sidelined since the season's opening series with a strain in his throwing shoulder, left-hander Brett Cecil remains out indefinitely. The club plans to send him in the near future to its spring complex in Jupiter, Fla., where Cecil will remain "for some time," president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said.

The left-hander started slow after reporting to camp late due to a family issue, and reported pain in his left shoulder after recording one out in his season debut.

"Obviously he didn't have a normal spring," Mozeliak said. "We'll try to bring him back to a pace that benefits him."

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com.

St. Louis Cardinals, Tommy Pham

Matt Kemp is in the best shape of his life (he really is)

Dodgers outfielder has added second-most speed in MLB since 2017
MLB.com @mike_petriello

Matt Kemp has "improved his physical conditioning, having lost 40 pounds," read a story here on MLB.com when Kemp reported to Dodgers Spring Training in February.

You're forgiven if that didn't exactly fire you up about Kemp's 2018 potential. After all, a player claiming he's shown up at camp "in the best shape of his life" has become something of a running joke in baseball circles. It's become such a meme that actual studies have been done on the phrase, showing very little on-field impact for hitters claiming to have improved their conditioning.

Matt Kemp has "improved his physical conditioning, having lost 40 pounds," read a story here on MLB.com when Kemp reported to Dodgers Spring Training in February.

You're forgiven if that didn't exactly fire you up about Kemp's 2018 potential. After all, a player claiming he's shown up at camp "in the best shape of his life" has become something of a running joke in baseball circles. It's become such a meme that actual studies have been done on the phrase, showing very little on-field impact for hitters claiming to have improved their conditioning.

And don't forget this: Kemp showed up at Atlanta camp in 2017 with a version of the exact same story. He followed it with his worst full season in the Majors. You hear this talk every spring. It rarely matters.

Now, with all that said, in Kemp's case, early in the season, there's maybe at least something to this. Kemp looks better. He's hitting better (.340/.382/.580 in 55 plate appearances entering Saturday). He's moving better -- and, according to our recent rollout of 2018 Sprint Speed leaderboards, the data backs it up, too. Of nearly 300 players who qualified in both 2017 and '18, only one has increased his speed more than Kemp.

Here's what we mean by that. The way Sprint Speed works, it's measured in feet per second on what we consider to be "qualified runs." (You can read more about it here.) The Major League average is 27 feet per second, so Kemp's 26.4 ft/sec isn't exactly speedy, but he's gone from being basically the slowest left fielder in baseball in 2017 (24.9 ft/sec) to being only slightly below the positional average in '18. It's a sizable jump, bettered only by a slightly larger one from Oakland's Matt Olson.

Now, that list should tell you two things. First, with rare exceptions, most of these guys had below-average speed last season, giving them room to improve. Someone like Byron Buxton (30.7 ft/sec in 2017) can't really get faster, he can only hold steady (30.5 ft/sec in '18) or go down.

Second, you can also see that a lot of the players on this list who were slower last season had some pretty compelling health-related reasons. We should be careful to note that it's still early and that we're somewhat fitting a narrative to an outcome here, yet there's enough signal through the noise to believe that there's some evidence even before the first month is done.

For example, Mike Moustakas worked hard this winter to improve his conditioning after a disappointing free-agent experience, and he is also another year removed from his 2016 knee surgery.

Albert Pujols worked hard, as well, knowing the arrival of Shohei Ohtani would force him to play more first base. (He's already played three more games at first than he did in all of 2017.)

So, of course, did Kemp.

Video: LAD@ARI: Kemp makes a tough diving catch in left

There's also simply the matter of health, or lack of it. Adrian Gonzalez (back), Jarrod Dyson (foot, hernia), Luis Valbuena (hamstring), and Jean Segura (ankle) all had lower-body concerns in 2017 that presumably haven't been issues in '18. (Cheslor Cuthbert also missed time, but it's hard to pin a wrist injury to foot speed.)

At the other end of the scale, one of the biggest speed decliners is Adam Eaton, who was running at a very strong 28.7 ft/sec in 2017 before missing most of the season after undergoing surgery on his left knee and landing on the disabled list again this year with a bruised left ankle. His Sprint Speed early on has fallen more than two ft/sec, to 26.5 ft/sec.

That importance of health applies to Kemp, too, since he landed on the DL twice in 2017, in April for a left hamstring injury and in July for a right hamstring injury. Those were just the latest in a litany of lower-body injuries, including left ankle surgery and a right hamstring strain in '13, and pulls to both hamstrings in '12. The speed that once allowed him to steal 34 bases or more in three separate seasons is long gone.

Since Statcast™ came online only in 2015, we can't compare the most recent versions of Kemp to his earlier heyday. But with the data we do have, it's clear to see that whether due to age, injury or conditioning, his Sprint Speed declined from '15 to '16, and again from '16 to '17.

Matt Kemp Sprint Speed, 2015-18

2015 -- 25.9 ft/sec
2016 -- 25.3 ft/sec
2017 -- 24.9 ft/sec
2018 -- 26.4 ft/sec

Major League average -- 27 ft/sec

The downward trend is clear, though it's interesting to note that in two of his previous three seasons, Kemp's fastest months have been April. We know that injuries were to come in previous years, though there may also be something to be said about feeling fresh early before the weight of the long daily grind takes its toll.

That said, we've tracked more than 1,000 Kemp runs over the last three-plus seasons, and two of his fastest five individual runs have come in the last two weeks.

Matt Kemp fastest individual Sprint Speed runs, 2015-18

30.9 ft/sec -- April 12, 2015 (triple)
29.8 ft/sec -- April 12, 2015 (groundout)
29.7 ft/sec -- April 29, 2015 (double, to third on the throw)
29.2 ft/sec -- April 16, 2018 (single)
29.1 ft/sec -- April 10, 2018 (double)

Video: SF@SD: Kemp stretches out a triple to short right

In theory, improved speed should help on defense, too, though it's a little early to draw any solid conclusions. What we can say is based on the balls hit to Kemp this season, an average outfielder would have been expected to make the play 94 percent of the time, and he's made the play 95 percent of the time, so about as expected. Last year, he underperformed by 10 points (expected to catch the ball 86 percent, made the catch 76 percent) and the year before, he underperformed by 7 points (expected 84, actual 77).

It's still so early for Kemp, and the possibility of injury or fatigue is a very real concern. But if he's not in the "best" shape of his life, it's perhaps at least better compared with the last few years. For a player generally seen as well past his prime, acquired in what was more an accounting move than anything, Kemp is off to a good start. He's been shockingly useful, based on the eye test. The early data says it might be legit.

For now.

Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Matt Kemp

Drury working to alleviate migraine issue

Righty Holder recalled from Triple-A; Warren placed on disabled list
MLB.com @BryanHoch

NEW YORK -- Brandon Drury was on the Yankee Stadium infield early on Saturday morning, his spikes digging into the dirt as he repeatedly rounded first base under the watch of the coaching staff. Sidelined with severe migraines that have caused blurred vision, those simple steps represented progress as he aims to resume playing in games.

"I'm figuring out what's going on, so it's good," Drury said. "We've been doing a lot of work in the back of my neck area. I'm not sure if that's what was causing this, but there was a lot of pressure back there. We're trying to release that."

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NEW YORK -- Brandon Drury was on the Yankee Stadium infield early on Saturday morning, his spikes digging into the dirt as he repeatedly rounded first base under the watch of the coaching staff. Sidelined with severe migraines that have caused blurred vision, those simple steps represented progress as he aims to resume playing in games.

"I'm figuring out what's going on, so it's good," Drury said. "We've been doing a lot of work in the back of my neck area. I'm not sure if that's what was causing this, but there was a lot of pressure back there. We're trying to release that."

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Drury has been on the disabled list since April 7 with the issue, which he said has affected him throughout his career, though he did not disclose it to the D-backs during his previous three big league seasons, and the Yankees say they were unaware of it prior to his February acquisition. While Drury said he is still experiencing migraines, the blurred vision has dissipated.

Video: NYY@TOR: Drury blasts a two-run homer to center

"I think he's a really good player, and if we can get those answers and get this issue put aside, I'm just eager to get him back in there helping us," manager Aaron Boone said. "He was out running the bases this morning. He got his ground-ball work and baserunning in. I know he's hitting. Hopefully we're getting close to him starting to play in some games, wherever that may be."

In Drury's absence, Miguel Andujar has made a solid impression at third base, including hitting his second big league homer in Friday's 8-5 loss to the Blue Jays. Andujar entered play on Saturday with seven extra-base hits in his past four games.

"I think he's done a better job controlling the strike zone," Boone said. "Early on in his first several games, he was a little bit anxious, maybe a little bit over-aggressive. He's an aggressive hitter, because he can handle so many pitches in the strike zone. I think he's settling in a little bit and getting a little more comfortable."

Video: TOR@NYY: Andujar smacks a solo home run to right

Roster move

The Yankees recalled right-hander Jonathan Holder from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre prior to Saturday's game, adding a fresh arm to their taxed bullpen. Righty Adam Warren was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a right back strain.

"For our bullpen to be what we know they are, we've got to be able to protect them with some innings from our starters," Boone said. "That's obviously something we've got to start getting. It's a priority."

The move came one night after Sonny Gray lasted 3 1/3 innings, with his ERA swelling to 8.27 through four starts. Despite a small drop in velocity, Boone said that he does not believe that Gray's issues are mechanical or physical.

"I think the pitches are there. I think the stuff is there," Boone said. "He's not getting strike one as much as he historically has during his career. … We've got to get him through this, because he's so important to our club. I absolutely believe it's in there. Hopefully we'll look back on this as just a tough start, and maybe he'll be better for having gone through it."

Video: TOR@NYY: Torreyes tosses bat at ball for a single

Toe tap

Boone and several of the Yankees' coaches were amused by Ronald Torreyes' seventh-inning single in Friday's game, in which the utilityman literally threw his bat at a Danny Barnes slider and was rewarded with a single that dropped into left field.

"It was one of those, you kind of look at each other, like, 'Did I see that right?'" Boone said.

Torreyes entered play on Saturday having hit safely in each of his eight starts, batting .500 (14-for-28) in those games. Overall, Friday's 3-for-4 performance raised his season average to .438 (14-for-32).

"He's a pro," Boone said. "He just does a lot of things well, prepares really well. I love watching him prepare, bouncing around different positions, getting all of his work in. He's been a spark for us. Whether he's sitting over there for a while, he goes out and seems to figure it out in the box. Whatever position you throw at him, he seems to get it done."

Bird flying south

Greg Bird (right ankle surgery) has been hitting, running and throwing, and the first baseman expects to continue doing so at the Yankees' complex in Tampa, Fla., when the team travels to the West Coast next week.

Bird said that he is about a week away from logging at-bats in extended spring training, and he expects to rejoin the big league lineup in May.

"We'll see how next week goes," Bird said. "We'll come up with more of a game plan after that."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

New York Yankees, Brandon Drury, Jonathan Holder, Adam Warren

The hottest starts in MLB history

1955 Dodgers, '98 Yankees had historic opening runs
MLB.com @_dadler

At 17-2, the Red Sox are off to their best 19-game start in franchise history. They are the first team to begin a season with 17 or more wins in 19 games since the 1987 Brewers (17-2 start) and just the seventh team in the modern era (since 1900) to do it.

With that in mind, here is a look at the hottest starts in Major League history:

At 17-2, the Red Sox are off to their best 19-game start in franchise history. They are the first team to begin a season with 17 or more wins in 19 games since the 1987 Brewers (17-2 start) and just the seventh team in the modern era (since 1900) to do it.

With that in mind, here is a look at the hottest starts in Major League history:

Red Sox now 17-2, thanks to Moreland's slam

MOST CONSECUTIVE WINS TO START SEASON
1982 Braves, '87 Brewers: 13
Final records: '82 Braves, 89-73 (Won NL West, lost NLCS); '87 Brewers, 91-71 (3rd in AL East)

The 1982 Braves were the first team to open the season with 13 straight wins. They were managed by Joe Torre, who was in his first year with the team, and they were led on the field by franchise icon Dale Murphy, who would go on to win his first of back-to-back National League MVP Awards that year. Murphy hit .281 with 36 home runs and a league-best 109 RBIs, and won a Gold Glove in center field. The team, meanwhile, would go on to win the NL West after its historically hot start, although the Braves lost in the NL Championship Series to the Cardinals.

Video: CIN@ATL: Braves open season with 13 straight wins

Five years later, the Brewers matched the Braves' season-opening feat, roaring to a 13-0 start. Even after their first loss, the Brewers won seven of their next nine games for a 20-3 record. And even though they had two Hall of Famers in the lineup, Robin Yount and Paul Molitor, Milwaukee would not make the playoffs despite finishing with a 91-71 record. Part of the reason? The Brewers followed that 20-3 run with a 12-game losing streak, the beginning of a larger stretch in which they lost 18 of 20 games.

Next best
1981 A's: 11

The 1981 A's were catalyzed by a 22-year-old Rickey Henderson, who in 108 games (the season was shortened because of the players' strike) led the American League with 56 stolen bases and 135 hits, led the Majors with 89 runs scored and won a Gold Glove in left field. Oakland also had All-Star Tony Armas providing the power -- he hit a league-leading 22 homers. Henderson finished second in AL MVP Award voting, while Armas finished fourth. The A's went to the playoffs after winning their first 11 games, beating the Royals in the AL Division Series before falling to the Yankees in the ALCS.

Also came close
1955 Dodgers, '62 Pirates, '66 Indians: 10

The 1962 Pirates and '66 Indians couldn't turn their hot starts into anything more. Pittsburgh went 93-68, but that was only good for a fourth-place finish in the NL that year; Cleveland finished its season 81-81. The 1955 Dodgers, though, were another story...

BEST START THROUGH 20 GAMES
1911 Tigers, '18 Giants, '55 Dodgers, '84 Tigers, '87 Brewers: 18-2
Final records: '11 Tigers, 89-65 (2nd in AL); '18 Giants, 71-53 (2nd in NL); '55 Dodgers, 98-55 (Won World Series); '84 Tigers, 104-58 (Won World Series); '87 Brewers, 91-71 (3rd in AL East)


Each of these clubs were nearly flawless out of the gate, winning 18 of their first 20 contests. The 1911 Tigers featured two of the AL's best players in Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford and jumped out to a 59-24 record before playing below-.500 baseball the rest of the way. The '18 Giants fell out of first place by early June and were unable to climb back to the top of the standings. After years of finishing second-best to the Yankees, the '55 Dodgers season (as you'll read below) was storybook in nature from beginning to end. The '84 Tigers, as you'll also read in further detail below, compiled one of the most impressive wire-to-wire seasons in history. The '87 Brewers season saw Paul Molitor compile a 39-game hit streak and Juan Nieves twirl a no-hitter, but the club's fast start quickly dissipated by mid-May. 

Next best
1902 Pirates, '07 Giants, '38 Giants, '46 Red Sox, '77 Dodgers, '81 A's, 2003 Yankees: 17-3

Three of these clubs were able to ride their hot starts to a pennant, but each of them came up empty in the World Series. The 1946 Red Sox came closest, falling to the Cardinals in a dramatic seven-game series. Reggie Jackson's iconic power display kept the '77 Dodgers at bay, while the heavily-favored Yankees couldn't solve Josh Beckett and the Marlins in 2003. 

BEST START THROUGH 25 GAMES
1955 Dodgers: 22-3
Final record: 98-55 (Won World Series)

The 1955 season came in the heart of the Dodgers-Yankees rivalry that dominated baseball for much of the era. And this Brooklyn team was special. Not only did the Dodgers win their first 10 games, they rattled off another 11-game win streak from Game 14 through 24. Of course, that's not what most fans remember them for. No, the '55 Dodgers made history by winning the franchise's first World Series title -- they beat the rival Yankees in a thrilling seven-game Fall Classic. It was in this World Series that Jackie Robinson pulled off his iconic Game 1 steal of home.

Video: MLB Network relives Jackie's legendary steal of home

The '55 Dodgers were loaded with Hall of Famers: Robinson, Roy Campanella, Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese. (Oh, and a 19-year-old rookie named Sandy Koufax, who made only five starts and 12 appearances and didn't pitch in the postseason.) Campanella won the NL MVP Award that year, hitting .318 with 32 home runs and 107 RBIs. Snider was the runner-up, hitting .309 with 42 homers and a Major League-best 136 RBIs and 126 runs scored.

Next best
1911 Tigers, '46 Red Sox, '77 Dodgers, '84 Tigers: 21-4

The 1911 Tigers were led by baseball legend Ty Cobb, who won the AL MVP Award that season after batting .420 while recording 248 hits, which was then a single-season record. The '46 Red Sox would make the World Series behind Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr, but lost to the Cardinals in seven games (as the Curse of the Bambino lived on). The '77 Dodgers also made the World Series behind star players Steve Garvey, Ron Cey and Don Sutton before falling to the Yankees.

And more on the 1984 Tigers momentarily.

Also came close
1912 Reds, '25 Athletics, '28 Yankees, '39 Yankees, '58 Yankees, '81 A's, '86 Mets, '87 Brewers, 2001 Mariners, '03 Yankees: 20-5

This group includes four World Series champs: the 1928, '39 and '58 Yankees, and the '86 Mets. The '28 and '39 Yankees squads will make appearances below, but the others are noteworthy in their own right. The '58 Yankees were led by the Hall of Fame trio of Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford, and rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the Fall Classic to win in seven games -- beating a loaded Braves team that had Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Red Schoendienst and Warren Spahn.

The 1986 Mets are one of the most memorable teams in MLB history, both for their personality and their ability on the field. The '86 World Series is one of the greatest ever played, with the Mets' unbelievable Game 6 rally among the sport's most famous moments.

Video: Must C Classic: Mets win it on Mookie's little roller

BEST START THROUGH 40 GAMES
1984 Tigers: 35-5
Final record: 104-58 (Won World Series)

Here's that memorable 1984 Tigers team. It's the last Detroit team to win the World Series, and it was one impressive club. That year, the Tigers never trailed in their division -- they won nine straight games to open the season, jumping out to a lead in the AL East that they never relinquished. Their 35-5 start to the year was a remarkable display of dominance. More importantly, though, they finished the job. After a 104-58 regular season, the Tigers swept the Royals in the ALCS and beat the Padres in five games in the Fall Classic.

The 1984 Tigers were led on offense by the likes of Hall of Famer Alan Trammell, Kirk Gibson, Lou Whitaker and Chet Lemon. Atop their starting rotation was Hall of Fame workhorse Jack Morris, who pitched two complete-game wins in the World Series. And at the back of the bullpen was Willie Hernandez, whose sensational season, which ended with a pair of World Series saves, netted him both the AL Cy Young Award and the AL MVP Award.

Next best
1928 Yankees, '39 Yankees: 33-7

It's no surprise that a pair of the legendary Yankees teams of the 1920s and '30s started out so strong. The '28 Yankees had Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig at the helm, two of the best to ever play the game. Ruth crushed 54 home runs that season, leading the Majors once again the year after his record-setting 60. Gehrig batted .374 and drove in a Major League-best 147 runs. Add in a few more Hall of Famers like Tony Lazzeri and Waite Hoyt, and this team couldn't be stopped. The Yankees went 101-53 in the regular season, then swept the Cardinals in the World Series to bring home the second championship of the franchise's MLB-record 27.

The 1939 Yankees won the World Series, too, after a 106-45 regular season. This was the DiMaggio era in the Bronx -- Joltin' Joe won his first AL MVP Award that season after batting .381 to lead the Majors. With Hall of Famers Bill Dickey and Joe Gordon helping fill out the lineup around DiMaggio, and another pair of Hall of Famers on the pitching staff in Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing, the '39 Yankees rolled to a sweep of the Reds in the Fall Classic.

Also came close
1912 Giants: 32-8; '29 Athletics, '41 Browns, '46 Red Sox, '98 Yankees, 2001 Mariners: 31-9

Most of these teams make appearances elsewhere here, but the 1929 Athletics also deserve mention. With MLB's all-time winningest manager Connie Mack at the helm, Philadelphia went 104-46 in the regular season to clinch the AL pennant by 18 games over the Yankees, then beat the Cubs in five games in the World Series. Chicago had Hall of Famers Rogers Hornsby, Hack Wilson, Kiki Cuyler and Gabby Hartnett, but it was overpowered by the A's own group of legends, which included Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, Mickey Cochrane and Lefty Grove.

BEST START THROUGH 50 GAMES
1946 Red Sox: 40-9-1
Final record: 104-50 (Lost World Series) 

This Red Sox club was remembered for both capturing the franchise's first AL pennant in nearly three decades and coming oh-so-close to winning it all. Leading the way was none other than Ted Williams, who picked up right where he left off in his first season back from his service as a fighter pilot in World War II. Williams paced the Junior Circuit in runs (142), walks (156), on-base percentage (.497), slugging (.667) and total bases (343) to capture his first of two AL MVP Awards. 

Boston's hot start included a 15-game win streak as fans flocked to Fenway Park to set club attendance records. The Red Sox sewed up the pennant by mid-September but lost a heart-breaking Game 7 of the Fall Classic thanks to Cardinals star Enos Slaughter's famous "mad dash" home from first base. 

Video: Enos Slaughter's 'Mad Dash' in 1946

Next best
1928 Yankees, '39 Yankees: 40-10

These two Yankees clubs represent a pair of the most talent-laden clubs in history. The '28 club featured nine future Hall of Famers and swept the Cardinals in the World Series. Meanwhile, the '39 team dominated opponents to the tune of a +411 run differential that remains the highest single-season total by any club in modern history.   

Also came close
1907 Cubs, '13 A's, '29 A's, '53 Yankees, '84 Tigers: 39-11

Featuring the famous double-play combination of Tinkers to Evers to Chance, this 1907 Cubs team came right in the middle of modern baseball's first true dynasty. The '13 A's were the game's next great dynasty, featuring Hall of Fame manager Connie Mack and his "$100,000 infield" with Stuffy McInnis, Eddie Collins, Home Run Baker and Jack Barry. Mack's second dynasty in Philadelphia is also included here with Hall of Famers Lefty Grove, Mickey Cochrane, Jimmie Foxx and Al Simmons. Joining them is a Yankees club that captured a record fifth consecutive World Series title in 1953, along with those dominant '84 Tigers. 

BEST START THROUGH 60 GAMES
1912 Giants: 48-11 (1 tie)
Final record: 103-48 (Lost World Series)

As with many of these teams, the 1912 Giants featured several legends of the sport. They were managed by Hall of Fame skipper John McGraw, the second-winningest manager in MLB history, and their pitching staff was led by a Hall of Fame duo in Christy Mathewson and Rube Marquard. After a sizzling start to the season, New York ran away with the NL pennant, but lost to the Red Sox in a dramatic eight-game World Series (one game was tied). In the winner-take-all Game 8, Mathewson was brilliant into the 10th inning, but Boston rallied to win the game and the series on a walk-off sacrifice fly.

The Giants actually trailed the Reds in the NL as late as May 20, despite having a 20-6 record on that date. But they broke through with a stretch of 18 wins in 20 games that turned their half-game deficit into a 12-game lead by June 13. When they played their 60th game on June 28, the Giants were in the middle of a 16-game winning streak which would push their lead to 16 1/2 games before the 4th of July.

Next best
1939 Yankees, 2001 Mariners: 47-13

The 1939 Yankees have already had their entry here. So we'll turn the focus to the 2001 Mariners, who had one of the greatest regular seasons in Major League history. The Mariners tied the MLB record with 116 wins (the 1906 Cubs are the other team to win 116 games), so their great start was just a part of a run that lasted the whole year. Seattle won 20 of its first 25 games, 31 of its first 40 and 47 of its first 60. Unfortunately, the Mariners couldn't turn their historic regular season into a World Series title, as they fell to the Yankees in the ALCS.

Still, that 2001 Mariners team is one to remember. This was the year that Ichiro came to the United States and took Major League Baseball by storm. As a rookie, the future Hall of Famer won the AL batting title by hitting .350, racking up an astounding 242 hits -- at the time, it was MLB's highest hit total since 1930. (Of course Ichiro then set the new MLB single-season hits record with 262 a few years later.) Ichiro led the Majors with 56 stolen bases, too, sparking the Mariners out of the leadoff spot all season. He won both the AL Rookie of the Year Award and the AL MVP Award.

Video: A look back at Ichiro's historic 2001 rookie season 

Also came close
1953 Yankees, '98 Yankees: 46-14

The 1998 Yankees have their own entry below, because their hot start went far beyond 60 games. That's not to say the '53 Yankees ever went cold -- they won the World Series, too. In fact, they capped the Yankees' MLB-record run of five straight World Series titles from 1949-53.

BEST FIRST HALF
1998 Yankees: 61-20 (.753 winning percentage)
Final record: 114-48 (Won World Series)

The MLB All-Star Game was first played in 1933. Since then, no team has had a better record at the break than the '98 Yankees -- the greatest juggernaut of the late-'90s New York dynasty. Managed by Joe Torre and led on the field by the Core Four -- Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera -- and others like Tino Martinez, Paul O'Neill and Bernie Williams, the '98 Yankees were one of the best teams of all time.

Video: The 1998 Yankees rank as greatest team of all-time

The Bombers set an AL record with 114 wins in the regular season, then went 11-2 in the postseason -- including a sweep of the Padres in the World Series, which began a run of three straight Yankees championships. It all started with their historically great first half. The Yankees went into the All-Star break with an 11-game lead in the AL East, and they never looked back.

Next-best
2001 Mariners: 63-24 (.724 winning percentage)

The 2001 Mariners broke the 1998 Yankees' AL wins record just three years after they set it. We've covered that team above, but just one more thing to note about their first half: Seattle entered the All-Star break with an incredible 19-game lead in the AL West.

Also came close
1942 Dodgers: 52-21 (.712 winning percentage); '44 Cardinals, '52 Dodgers: 51-21 (.708 winning percentage)

The 1942 Dodgers were victims of the pennant-or-bust era of baseball. They went 104-50 in the regular season, but finished two games back of the eventual-champion Cardinals even after winning their final eight games. The '52 Dodgers had slightly better luck, taking home the NL pennant, but they lost an exciting back-and-forth World Series to the Yankees in seven games.

The 1944 Cardinals, on the other hand, went all the way after their great first half. Led by the legendary Stan Musial, St. Louis finished the regular season 105-49 and then beat the Browns in six games in the Fall Classic.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.