Canadian MLB Roundup: Phillies’ Nick Pivetta getting hit hard

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Nick Pivetta throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals. (Derik Hamilton/AP)

The 2019 season hasn’t been overly kind to Canadian baseball players – at least so far. In the first instalment of a monthly series, we check in on the Canadians across Major League Baseball, starting in Philadelphia…

Nick Pivetta, Victoria
It has been a start to forget for Pivetta, who has struggled in his first three outings of the season.

Pivetta was picked by many to be a breakout performer on a Phillies team with an impressive offence which now includes Bryce Harper. But he’s coming off a pounding against Washington last Wednesday where he was chased after three-plus innings.

His final line in Philadelphia’s 15-1 loss that day: 3.2 IP, 7 R, 7ER, 7 H, 3 BB, 6 Ks.

The 26-year-old admitted he can be better than what the stat line showed and manager Gabe Kapler said the team is still going to be patient with him.

“He’s got a tremendous amount of ability. We trust that that ability is going to show up. I believe strongly that he’s going to be OK,” Kapler said.

Through 13.1 innings in 2019, Pivetta has a 9.45 ERA and 2.18 WHIP — amongst the worst in MLB.

James Paxton, Ladner, B.C.
Paxton’s first big test with his new team came in his third start and it didn’t go as planned.

The Big Maple, whose first two starts came against the lowly Baltimore Orioles, lasted only four innings against the Houston Astros last week, giving up five runs on eight hits and walking three. Paxton added five strikeouts as the Yankees fell 8-6.

Paxton’s 6.00 ERA to start the season isn’t ideal, especially in a tough market like New York. But a positive for the 30-year-old is his strikeout rate (11.40 K/9, good for 19th in MLB).

With Luis Severino out for an undisclosed amount of time, Paxton has an opportunity to shine and endear himself with the Yankees faithful after his trade from Seattle last November.

Tyler O’Neill, Maple Ridge, B.C.
O’Neill, 23, has eight hits in 27 at-bats through 13 games including two doubles and four runs-batted in.

Currently the Cardinals’ fourth outfielder, he’s yet to figure out how to improve a rough strikeout rate which hampered him during his debut MLB season last year. He’s struck out 11 times already this year – 39.3 per cent of his at-bats – and has one walk.

O’Neill’s best performance through the first few weeks came Sunday on the road against the Reds when he went 2-for-4, hit his first home run of the season and scored a pair of runs.

Joey Votto, Toronto
Votto has had a trio of two-hit games for an otherwise very bad Reds team (5-9) which had lost eight in a row until their series against Miami.

The 35-year-old first baseman is trying to rebound from a bit of a down 2018 and has so far slashed .245/.339/.408 with one home run and two RBI in 14 games.

Votto has always been known for his exceptional on-base percentage and has walked six times while boasting a .326 wOBA, 98 wRC+.

Russell Martin, Montreal
Martin, 36, is off to a nice start this season since returning to the Dodgers — where he started his career — in a January trade from the Toronto Blue Jays.

Martin has appeared in six games, going 5-for-15, scoring seven runs, hitting one homer, driving in two runs and walking five times. He even came on to pitch a scoreless inning of relief on March 30 during an 18-5 rout of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Lower-back inflammation landed him on the 10-day injured last Wednesday.

Dalton Pompey, Mississauga, Ont.
Just when it appeared Dalton Pompey was on track to make the Blue Jays’ Opening Day roster, injury struck again.

In a fluke injury, Pompey bumped his head against bats at the top of his locker at Toronto’s spring training facility in Dunedin, Fla. He was soon diagnosed with a concussion – his third in the last four years.

Pompey, a once coveted top prospect, slashed .282/.282/.436 in 14 spring training games while adding a home run, three doubles and two stolen bases.

The Jays transferred the 26-year-old to the 60-day injured list on April 2 and there’s no timeframe for his return.

IN THE MINORS

Josh Naylor, Mississauga, Ont.
After a solid 2018 season in double-A, Naylor started out this year with the San Diego Padres‘ triple-A affiliate, the El Paso Chihuahuas.

The 21-year-old’s batting average may not be perfect just yet, but he’s certainly got some pop in his bats, as witnessed with his first homer of the season:

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