As he’s wont to do, agent Scott Boras lobbied on behalf of one of his clients Saturday, the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta, brushing off concerns about the right-hander’s early season velocity drop. As Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com notes, the 31-year-old Arrieta has lost 2.5 mph on his fastball since 2015 – his NL Cy Young-winning campaign (he averaged 94.6 mph then) – but Boras doesn’t see it as a big deal. “The question becomes what’s (Clayton) Kershaw averaging? He’s throwing 92.5 mph,” said Boras. “(Zack) Greinke is throwing 91.8 mph. (Max) Scherzer, when he was a free agent, was throwing 92 mph.” Perhaps thanks to his decline in velocity, Arrieta has struggled to prevent runs in his contract year (4.92 ERA in 56 2/3 innings), but Boras still regards him as an “elite pitcher” who has proven it time and again in the regular season and playoffs.
More from around the game:
- In yet another unfortunate break for the injury-laden Mets, left fielder Yoenis Cespedes felt soreness in his right quad Friday and won’t take live at-bats until at least Tuesday, Marc Carig of Newsday was among those to report (Twitter links). Cespedes’ setback occurred while running the bases in a Class-A rehab game, and the club scratched him Saturday as a result. There had been hope that Cespedes would return during the Mets-Brewers series between Monday and Wednesday of the upcoming week, but that no longer looks like a possibility. The Mets have been without Cespedes since late April, when he landed on the disabled list with a hamstring strain after getting off to a blistering start (.270/.373/.619 with six home runs in 75 plate appearances). Notably, a right quad injury hampered him at times last season.
- As they prepare to pick first overall in next month’s draft, the Twins are doing their due diligence on six players, but Vanderbilt righty Kyle Wright has emerged as the front-runner, writes Jim Callis of MLB.com in his latest mock draft. Like Wright, Louisville first baseman/left-hander Brendan McKay is garnering strong consideration, notes Callis, with California high school righty Hunter Greene, North Carolina high school lefty MacKenzie Gore, California prep outfielder Royce Lewis and Virginia first baseman Pavin Smith also in the mix. Between Wright and McKay, the former has the higher ceiling, per Callis.
- The Indians’ rotation could be in for a bit of a shakeup: Ace Corey Kluber, on the DL since May 3 with a strained lower back, will rejoin the team Thursday, relays the Associated Press. To make room for Kluber, righty Danny Salazar might head to the bullpen, reports Paul Hoynes of cleveland.com. While all 95 of Salazar’s career appearances have come as a starter, the flamethrower hasn’t helped the Tribe in that capacity this season. Salazar has failed to complete six innings in five straight starts, including a 5 1/3-frame loss to the Royals on Saturday, and has pitched to a 5.50 ERA in 52 1/3 innings. While the 27-year-old has missed bats at a superstar-caliber level (12.55 K/9, 15.8 percent swinging-strike rate), he has offset that with a lofty walk rate (4.82 per nine) and a sky-high home run-to-fly ball ratio (22.9 percent).
- The Astros, meanwhile, are also making an adjustment to their rotation. Mike Fiers had been scheduled to start Monday in Minnesota, but he’ll go to the bullpen in favor of Brad Peacock, tweets Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The role reversal will stick if Peacock pitches well, manager A.J. Hinch indicated. Fiers has been a rare weak link for the formidable Astros this year, having recorded a 5.21 ERA (with a ghastly 7.56 FIP) in nine starts and 46 2/3 innings. Peacock, on the other hand, has logged a microscopic ERA (.87) in 13 appearances and 20 2/3 frames. He picked up his first start of the year in a win over Detroit this past Monday, tossing 4 1/3 scoreless, one-hit innings and tallying eight strikeouts. Peacock has been racking up strikeouts throughout the year (13.06 K/9), but control has been an issue (5.23 BB/9).