AL West: Checking in on the new guys

April 19th, 2018

The American League West has several new high-profile faces this season, with a mix of established stars and young phenoms highlighting the crop of newcomers to the division.

Here's a look at how the most prominent new guys are settling in with their clubs so far.


Who's the new guy? Outfielder

How's it going so far? Piscotty couldn't find his way over the Mendoza Line during his first 10 games with the A's, so he was subsequently demoted in the lineup. But he hasn't stopped hitting since, batting nearly .500 in the past week after making a slight adjustment to loosen his grip on the bat, and he's gradually looking more comfortable on defense in his new digs, too.

What's on deck? Piscotty is looking like the hitter Oakland was expecting to get when it traded for him in the offseason, which bodes well for a deep lineup that's capable of doing damage top to bottom.

Number to know: 8. Number of times Piscotty has reached base safely in eight consecutive games.


Who's the new guy? Right-handed pitcher/Designated hitter

How's it going so far? Ohtani, the Angels' prized offseason acquisition, enjoyed a historic start to his career in the Majors, going 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and 18 strikeouts over 13 innings in his first two starts on the mound while batting .367 with three home runs and 11 RBIs over 30 at-bats as the designated hitter. But the 23-year-old two-way phenom proved human in his third pitching appearance on Tuesday, when he allowed three runs over two innings to the Red Sox before exiting with a blister on his right hand.

What's on deck? The blister isn't expected to affect Ohtani's availability as a hitter, so he will likely return to the lineup by Thursday at the earliest and log a few starts at DH before transitioning back into pitching mode. The Halos are hopeful that Ohtani will be able to make his next start on the mound, which would be next Tuesday in Houston if he's kept on his current once-a-week pitching schedule.

Number to know: Ohtani became the first player with two wins and three home runs in his team's first 10 games of a season since Jim Shaw for the 1919 Washington Senators.


Who's the new guy: Right-handed pitcher 

How's it going so far? Cole is off to a tremendous start with his new team, going 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his first three starts. In that span, he's struck out an AL-best 36 hitters in 21 innings and is using his curveball more often and his fastball less.

What's on deck? Cole is still getting his feet wet in the AL and will have to make adjustments as he faces lineups multiples times. He's faced the Rangers twice and Padres once so far (prior to Wednesday's start at Seattle).

Number to know: Cole's 36 strikeouts through his first three games with the Astros are a club record.


Who's the new guy? Outfielder Dee Gordon

How's it going so far? Gordon has gotten off to a fast start with his new club, batting .302 with seven stolen bases over his first 15 games at the top of the Mariners' lineup while also making a smooth transition to center field.

What's on deck? Gordon, who won a Gold Glove Award at second base with the Marlins in 2015, will have to continue to learn and adjust to all the nuances of playing in the outfield, though his elite speed has helped him take well to the new position thus far.

Number to know: Gordon's average sprint speed of 29.7 feet per second was the fourth-fastest mark in the Majors in 2017. On Tuesday against the Astros, Gordon logged sprint speeds of 30.4 feet per second and 30.2 feet per second on a pair of groundouts -- both above Statcast™'s benchmark for elite speed of 30 feet per second.


Who's the new guy? Infielder 

How's it going so far? Kiner-Falefa was called up to the Majors for the first time on April 10 to be the Rangers' backup utility infielder when second baseman went on the disabled list. Kiner-Falefa then became the starting second baseman when got hurt and shifted to shortstop. Then Profar went into concussion protocol during Monday's game and Kiner-Falefa made his first start at shortstop on Tuesday, getting four hits in a 7-2 victory over the Rays. Texas has been juggling its lineup almost daily because of the injuries, and Kiner-Falefa so far has handled everything thrown at him.

What's on deck? Kiner-Falefa will continue to play shortstop until Profar is ready to return, then he'll switch back to second base. Odor is due back in another two weeks or so, but Andrus is down for six to eight weeks with a fractured bone in his right elbow. Kiner-Falefa is going to be in the big leagues for awhile if he continues to play well and show he is not fazed by the environment.

Number to know: Kiner-Falefa is just the fourth Rangers player to have a four-hit game within the first seven games of his career.