Mon. Jan 20th, 2020

… Because we all have opinions.

Aussies Continue to Impress in US

While NBA free agency has stolen most of the US pro sport headlines this week among Australian readers, there’s been some other considerable happenings worth discussing…

Liam Hendriks became just the third Australian in history to earn MLB All-Star Game selection, on the back of what’s been a truly stunning first half of the season. Enjoying a career year with the Oakland Athletics, the 30-year-old has predominantly been used as a reliever where his 0.92 ERA is the best among all relief pitchers in the major leagues. He has also made two starts and owns a 1.24 ERA across both roles. A veteran of nine MLB seasons, he had the honor of being named the American League’s Reliever of the Month in June. Hendriks joins David Nilsson (1999) and Grant Balfour (2013) on the exclusive list.

Lewis Thorpe became the 34th Australian to reach the major leagues, making a start for the Minnesota Twins against the Chicago White Sox last week. Through five innings in a rain interrupted game, the 23-year-old from Melbourne performed well, allowing two earned runs and striking out seven. While he was ultimately tagged with the loss on debut, he can partially thank his teammates for that, given the lack of run support which amounted to just three runs being scored in the 7th.

Alex Wells continues to shine in the Baltimore Orioles’ minor leagues and in a rebuilding organization keen to take stock of what talent they have, may well become the 35th Australian in the major leagues very soon. Having succeeded at all levels in the minor leagues since debuting in 2016, Wells owns a 7-1 record and a 1.92 ERA through 14 starts this season with the Double-A Bowie Baysox. Already listed as the Orioles’ number 14 pitching prospect and 24th overall, Wells is widely believed to have the best fastball and off-speed pitch command within the entire Orioles system and is earmarked to become a very reliable number four or five rotation piece in years to come. Watch this space…

Nathan Walker, the only Australian to play in the NHL, has departed the nation’s capital and is headed south to join the reigning Stanley Cup champions St Louis Blues on a two year deal worth up to $1.4 million (US). Walker will earn $700k per season if he stays with the Blues, or $300k in 2019/20 and $350k in 2020/21 if he is sent down to the Blues’ AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage. Since making his NHL with the Washington Capitals in 2017/18, Walker has played 12 regular season games and one postseason game under hockey’s brightest lights, 10 with the Capitals and two in a brief stint with the Edmonton Oilers. The 25-year-old’s career highlight to date was undoubtedly collecting an assist in his only postseason game (against the Pittsburgh Penguins), and being with the Capitals when they won the Stanley Cup just over 12 months ago.

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