UCLA Well-Represented on MLB Opening Day
Five alumni of the UCLA baseball program were named to the Opening Day rosters of their respective clubs as the 2022 MLB season officially got underway on Thursday.
A pair of Bruins – Gerrit Cole (New York Yankees) and Brandon Crawford (San Francisco Giants) – will be in the starting lineup for their team's opening games on Friday. A third – Cody Poteet of the Miami Marlins – will be in the opposite dugout from Crawford at Oracle Park as part of his first-career Opening Day.
Two more Bruins, right-handers Griffin Canning (Los Angeles Angels) and James Kaprielian (Oakland A's) will open the new campaign on the Injured List for their clubs.
In addition, two longtime MLB managers and UCLA alums return to their post for the new campaign in Dave Roberts (Los Angeles Dodgers) and Torey Lovullo (Arizona Diamondbacks).
Cole is coming off another standout season atop the Yankees rotation, as he won an American League-best 16 games last year while posting a 3.23 ERA and 242 strikeouts in 181 1/3 innings. He finished runner-up for the AL Cy Young, the fourth consecutive season and fifth year overall that he's placed top-five in Cy Young voting. Besides leading the league in wins, Cole also ranked second in the AL in WAR for pitchers and was top-five in the league in a slew of other statistics, including ERA (third), WHIP (1.06, second), and strikeouts per nine innings (12.1, second). 2022 marks the start of year three in The Bronx for Cole.
Crawford meanwhile had the finest season yet of his 11-year MLB career in 2021. He set career highs in every slash category (.298/.373/.522) as well as home runs (24) and RBIs (90) while winning his fourth-career Gold Glove. His 6.1 WAR were the highest on the NL-West-winning Giants and seventh overall among NL position players. His two-way production helped the Giants set a franchise record for wins (107-55) while capturing their first NL West crown since 2012. UCLA's shortstop from 2006-08, Crawford was named an MLB All-Star for the third time in his career and made his fourth trip to the MLB Playoffs.. He also finished fourth in NL MVP voting and was a finalist for the NL Comeback Player of the Year and NL Silver Slugger (SS).
Poteet will be experiencing the first Opening Day of his career after making his MLB debut on May 12, 2021. Poteet had a solid first season in the bigs, going 2-3 with a 4.99 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings spanning seven starts. He was especially impressive early on, crafting a 1.06 ERA over his first three starts of the campaign, including seven innings of three-hit, shutout ball against the New York Mets on May 23. He didn't appear after Jun. 24 due to injury.
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