As the American League wild card race gets closer by the day, we’ll take a look at some other news and notes from the Junior Circuit.
- Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi left last night’s game against the Padres in the sixth inning with left side tightness, as relayed by Chris Cotillo of Mass Live. For now, he remains day-to-day, with manager Alex Cora telling Cotillo he’ll be evaluated on Monday’s off day. Benintendi won’t be available today, per Cora, although he was due for a maintenance day regardless, the skipper noted. The University of Arkansas product hasn’t quite emerged as the superstar many envisioned when he was one of baseball’s top prospects, but he’s no doubt a valuable and important piece of Boston’s outfield mix, boasting a solid .283/.357/.462 slash line (112 wRC+). The Sox have won seven of their last ten games, but as Rob Bradford of WEEI points out, they haven’t made up much ground in their pursuit of a Wild Card spot in recent weeks. Fangraphs gives the defending champions just a 6.4% shot of getting to the play-in game, and any long-term absence for Benintendi would only deplete those odds further. Fortunately, the club is optimistic at this point he’ll return Tuesday for the start of a series against the Rockies, per Cotillo.
- Willie Calhoun is beginning to look like a core piece for the future, opines Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Following a slow start to his MLB career, Calhoun has mashed since this year’s All-Star break, and his .292/.333/.579 line on the season is awfully impressive, even considering Globe Life Park’s hitter-friendly tendencies (128 wRC+). Calhoun tells Grant he made a swing adjustment this offseason hoping to elevate the ball and take advantage of his cozy home environment. He’s done exactly that, pushing his average launch angle from 11.6° in 2018 to 18.4° this season. Calhoun’s not without question marks- he’s not well-regarded defensively anywhere on the diamond and his batted ball metrics don’t quite line up with his stellar results- but he’s nonetheless worked his way into the organization’s good graces, as manager Chris Woodward raved to Grant about the slugger’s improved focus and plate approach.
- The Rays are getting some help on the injury front, rounds up Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. In addition to the returns of Joey Wendle and Avisaíl García, the club is seeing some progress on the pitching side. Ace Blake Snell, out since July 22 with a left elbow injury, is on track to throw a bullpen session this week, while potential ace Tyler Glasnow just wrapped up a ’pen of his own. Glasnow, who’s hoping to return from a forearm strain as a reliever, is on track for a rehab assignment and could return during the club’s next homestand, which spans August 30 to September 8. Contributions from those two, as well as solid starter Yonny Chirinos, who’s feeling better three weeks after hitting the shelf with finger inflammation in his pitching hand, would be a boon to a club up half a game on Oakland for the AL’s final playoff spot.