Pirates righty Ivan Nova seems reasonably close to a return, as Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. He received good reports after throwing a pair of simulated innings, suggesting that his sprained ring finger won’t keep him out very long. Obviously the club will wait to see how he responds before moving things forward, but it seems reasonable to think that Nova could make it back in relatively short order given that he last pitched on May 24th. The Bucs would certainly like not only for Nova to return, but also for him to turn things around on the bump. He carries a 4.96 ERA through 61 2/3 frames, though his peripherals have been in his typical range and suggest he has been a bit unfortunate.
Here are some more recent notes from the National League:
- The Nationals placed righty Jeremy Hellickson on the 10-day DL with a hamstring strain, but indications are that it’s minor, as Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com reports on Twitter. It’s not even clear that the Nats will need to find a fill-in starter, as they won’t need an extra rotation piece for a decent stretch. The DL placement, then, will actually leave the team with some added roster flexibility for the time being. Of course, it’d be preferable if there wasn’t an injury issue at all. Hellickson has been a gem of a minor-league signing thus far for D.C., turning in 43 1/3 innings of 2.28 ERA ball over nine starts.
- In a health matter of equal or greater significance for the Nationals, MASNsports.com’s Mark Zuckerman covers the latest on second baseman Daniel Murphy. Though it seems he’s in solid form with the bat, Murphy is still not looking to be at full speed on his legs. For the Nats — and, particularly, their medical staff — there are some tough questions as to how to bring Murphy along. It seems uncertain at this point whether the club can really expect him to function as a full-fledged, regular second baseman this year, which could pose some rather complicated roster questions. The situation is also concerning for the 33-year-old Murphy, of course, who had seemed primed to hit the open market this winter as a high-end hitter.
- What’s most amazing about Matt Kemp’s remarkable two-month run with the Dodgers, Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs writes, is not the fact that he’s off to a .344/.374/.568 slash. (Indeed, it seems there’s reason to anticipate those numbers coming back to earth, given his .400 BABIP.) Rather, it’s the fact that Kemp is suddenly grading as a solid defender in the corners, allowing him to rack up an impressive 1.8 fWAR in just under two hundred plate appearances. Sullivan examines the defensive component in an interesting piece that’s well worth a full read.