Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez felt soreness in his left forearm during the last two pitches of his appearance today against the Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Elizabeth Bloom reported. The southpaw didn’t speak to the media himself after the game, though Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk confirmed that Vazquez was receiving treatment. It’s too early to gauge the seriousness of the problem, though obviously any sort of forearm issue is of great concern, particularly for a pitcher who throws as hard as Vazquez. His fastball has dropped in velocity this season (96.8 mph as opposed to 98.5 mph in 2017), though this year’s total is closer to his career average, so it could be that 2017 proves to be something of an outlier, or perhaps it’s still too early in the 2018 campaign to make conclusions. Vazquez has a 3.54 ERA and 9.74 K/9 through 20 1/3 frames for the Bucs this year, with an increased walk rate and a decreased swinging-strike and grounder rate from his outstanding 2017 season. On the flip side, Vazquez has also yet to allow a home run this year, and he has had some bad luck the form of a .333 BABIP and only a 65.5% strand rate.
Vazquez’s breakout 2017 earned him a four-year, $22MM extension from the Pirates in the offseason, locking him up as a building block on the Pittsburgh roster. Losing Vazquez for any amount of time would be a significant blow to a Pirates team that has surpassed expectations by staying competitive in the NL Central and in the wild card race. Michael Feliz and Edgar Santana are likely the top candidates to take over as closer if Vazquez did have to hit the DL; it’s possible that the Bucs could target ninth-inning help at the deadline if they stayed in the race, though payroll would certainly play an issue in any acquisition.
Here’s some more on some injury situations around baseball…
- Yu Darvish will undergo an MRI on Tuesday, 670 The Score’s Bruce Levine reports (Twitter link), and the Cubs righty has said that the soreness in his right triceps is in a different place than it was in 2015, when Darvish underwent Tommy John surgery. This could be a further sign that Darvish’s current injury isn’t very serious, so he could be back in Chicago’s rotation sooner rather than later.
- Franchy Cordero will likely be placed on the 10-day DL tomorrow due to forearm soreness, MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell tweets. The Padres believe the issue has recently been impacting Cordero’s swing, which could explain his .515 OPS over his last 47 plate appearances. This recent slide cooled off what had been a strong start for Cordero on the season, and the outfielder still owns an overall .237/307/.439 slash line and seven homers over 154 PA.
- Hunter Renfroe is expected to be activated from the disabled list tomorrow to take Cordero’s spot on the Padres roster, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. Renfroe hasn’t played since April 17 due to elbow inflammation, and he has nine Triple-A rehab games under his belt as he prepared for his return to the majors. Acee notes that the rehab assignment may have essentially doubled as an opportunity for Renfroe to get his bat on track, as the former top prospect got off to a slow start this season and has yet to really break out in the big leagues, though Renfroe has crushed left-handed pitching.
- A DL stint could be in the offing for Wilmer Flores, as the Mets infielder left today’s game in the fourth inning due to back soreness. MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo reports that Flores has flown back to New York for examination, and the Mets will have Phillip Evans on hand in Atlanta tomorrow if a roster move needs to be made. Flores is hitting .248/.320/.398 through 128 PA this season and has continued to be a versatile infield depth piece for the Mets, most recently seeing a lot of third base time filling in for the injured Todd Frazier.