1. Mets SP Matt Harvey Placed On 15-Day DL
If there was any consolation for the Mets with young rotation stars Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard having to pitch with bone spurs in their elbows and Zack Wheeler’s 2016 status being up in the air after his latest setback, it was that Matt Harvey had gotten past his early season struggles.
With six strong starts in a row (2.27 ERA, 35.2 IP, 27 H, 8 BB, 28 K), the 27-year-old was heading into his 4th of July start against Miami on a roll. But not only did Harvey’s hot streak end then, his season would also unknowingly come to an end.
The Marlins lit Harvey up for five earned runs and 11 hits in 3.2 innings. Two days later, he was placed on the 15-Day disabled list with shoulder discomfort. Today, it was announced that he’ll undergo season-ending Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery.
At least in the short term, it will be Logan Verrett (5.32 ERA, 23.2 IP, 14 BB, 16 K in five starts) taking Harvey’s rotation spot. Sean Gilmartin (4.48 ERA, 2.4 BB/9, 8.6 K/9 in 13 Triple-A starts) could also on a very short list for a start or two after the All-Star break. Unlike previous seasons, there isn’t a top prospect ready to step in. Jacob deGrom and Bartolo Colon will be relied upon heavily down the stretch, as will Wheeler, if and when he returns.
2. Cardinals 2B Matt Carpenter Placed On 15-Day DL
Even with Matt Carpenter having an MVP-caliber season, the Cardinals were having a hard time staying anywhere near striking distance of the division-leading Cubs. With their best hitter now sidelined—Carpenter was placed on the 15-Day disabled list with a strained oblique on Thursday—they’re in danger of losing ground in a very competitive Wild Card race.
The semi-good news is that Kolten Wong, who has stepped back into the starting second base job, has been better since being recalled from Triple-A with a .277/.358/.340 slash line. Randal Grichuk, who appears slated for regular action in center field with Wong back to the infield, is 5-for-8 with a homer since his return. He was demoted in mid-June after a terrible start.
They Cardinals will need those two young hitters, as well as the rest of the lineup to step up. With Brandon Moss also on the disabled list with a sprained ankle, Matt Adams’ left-handed bat has become that much more important. And he’s currently in a 3-for-39 slump, which is the exact opposite of “stepping up.”
3. Royals Closer Wade Davis Placed On 15-Day DL
The Royals won the 2015 World Series with a mediocre starting rotation—Edinson Volquez (3.55 ERA, 3.2 BB/9, 7.0 K/9) was probably their ace—and a superstar-less lineup—Kendrys Morales led the team with an .847 OPS. What they did have, though, was an elite bullpen with a closer, Wade Davis, who was pretty much un-hittable (4.4 H/9).
Fast-forward to 2016. The starting rotation isn’t any better. The lineup was just decent before losing Mike Moustakas for the season. And now the strength of their team, the bullpen, will be without Davis, who was placed on the 15-Day disabled list on Tuesday with a strained forearm. There’s an optimistic tone coming out of Kansas City, but forearm troubles are always of at least some substantial concern.
While bullpen depth isn’t an issue in Kansas City, closer candidates Kelvin Herrera and Joakim Soria –the Royals haven’t named either as the clear 9th inning option—each gave up runs in non-save situations since Davis went down. That can’t be a good sign for a team that currently has no clear team strength. They have plenty of post-season experience, but getting there will be a challenge.
4. Mets INF Jose Reyes Has Contract Purchased From Minors
When Jose Reyes last played for the Mets, he was a superstar shortstop headed for a huge payday in free agency. Four-and-a-half seasons later, the 33-year-old has been traded twice (Miami-to-Toronto; Toronto-to-Colorado) and was recently released by the Rockies after serving a 51-game suspension for domestic violence. Now, he’s hoping to rebuild his career and image.
After signing with the Mets on a Minor League contract on June 25th, Reyes joined the big league club in his familiar leadoff role. This time around, though, he’s the starting third baseman with David Wright out indefinitely due to a herniated disc in his neck.
Bringing back Reyes, who has a pair of doubles and a homer in his first three games, is a relatively risk-free move (public relations aside). Since the chances of their starting rotation carrying them in 2016 have decreased greatly over the past few weeks, the Mets really need a spark out of their lineup. A rejuvenated Reyes at the top could do the trick.
5. A’s SP Rich Hill Activated from 15-Day DL
In last week’s “Top 20 Trade Candidates”, Jeff Todd ranked Rich Hill No. 11 and wrote that he wouldn’t make it into top-five status again until he proved that he was back to pre-injury form. Well, he’s made it back and it didn’t take him long: Hill checks in at 3rd on the updated list. If he didn’t re-establish his value after his first start back on July 2nd when he logged a quality start against the Pirates (6 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 6 K), he certainly did so with his dominating performance against the Astros on Thursday (7 IP, ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 10 K.)
Anything can happen in the coming weeks as Hill can still make 2-3 starts before being dealt. But, barring another injury, his value isn’t likely to decrease at all. The 36-year-old lefty has been one of the best and most consistent starting pitchers in baseball since the Red Sox gave him a shot last September. In 17 starts, he has a 2.06 ERA, 2.8 BB/9, 10.8 K/9 and has not allowed more than three earned runs in any start. That kind of production is going to cost a contending team some real prospect value.