The Opener: Ohtani, Eovaldi, MLBTR Chat

We’ve already had one morning roster move, and here are three additional things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:

1. Ohtani to undergo testing:

On the heels of the two-way superstar’s agent discussing his client’s UCL injury with reporters, Shohei Ohtani exited yesterday’s game due to oblique discomfort. Manager Phil Nevin described Ohtani as “pretty sore” (as relayed by’s Rhett Bollinger) and while Sam Blum of The Athletic notes that the club did some preliminary testing last night, Nevin didn’t have enough information to share much of anything else.

With Ohtani already done pitching for the year and his agent indicating that some sort of elbow surgery is inevitable for him, even a relatively mild oblique strain could potentially see Ohtani’s season come to an end with so little time on the calendar remaining and an impending surgery looming. Even if Ohtani has suited up for the final time this season, he’s a strong candidate for the AL MVP award; in 599 trips to the plate this season, he’s slashed an incredible .304/.412/.654 — all while also posting a 3.14 ERA and 31.5% strikeout rate in 132 innings while on the mound.

2. Eovaldi to return:

Rangers right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is set to take the mound in Arlington for this evening’s game against the Astros. It will be Eovaldi’s first appearance in the big leagues since he went on the injured list with a forearm strain shortly after the All-Star break. The 33-year-old veteran’s return figures to be a massive boost to the Texas rotation, which added both lefty Jordan Montgomery and veteran ace Max Scherzer in his absence. In 19 starts prior to his injury this season, Eovaldi pitched like an ace in his own right, with a 2.69 ERA and 3.23 FIP in 123 2/3 innings of work. Eovaldi’s return could indicate the end of either right-hander Dane Dunning’s or lefty Andrew Heaney’s time in the rotation, though it’s also possible the Rangers could opt for a six-man rotation down the stretch in hopes of preserving the health of their veteran arms for a hopeful postseason run. Eovaldi himself could be on a pitch count early on; he’s been throwing bullpen sessions but is returning from a roughly six-week absence without making a minor league rehab appearance.

3. MLBTR Chat:

The end of the season is fast approaching, and the league’s 30 clubs are all pushing full steam ahead into the stretch run. While some teams are already looking ahead to 2024, many are focused on the current pennant chase, with more than half the league still boasting 20% or higher playoff odds, per Fangraphs. If you’re curious how your team will hold up over the season’s final month or what their plan for the future is, MLBTR’s Steve Adams is hosting a live chat with readers at 1pm CT today. You can click here to ask a question in advance, join in live once the chat begins, or read the transcript once the chat is complete.

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