Chris Archer’s long-awaited return from the IL didn’t go as planned. The righty returned to the hill today after spending more than four months on the shelf, but then left the game after throwing 41 pitches over two innings due to hip tightness. Although Archer initially went on the IL in April because of forearm tightness, his rehab was slowed by hip soreness in recent weeks. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times relays word from Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, who says that today’s hip soreness was not in the same spot as the previous hip issues. Archer himself told Joey Johnston of the Tampa Bay Times that coming out of the game was precautionary. “I noticed a little drop in my fastball [velocity], and I felt the tightness in my hip,” Archer said. “…I thought it was smart to take a little breather, leave it at two innings.” The hurler has now thrown just 6 1/3 innings since the end of the 2019 season, after missing all of 2020 because of undergoing surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome. Whether this is a minor setback or something more serious remains to be seen. In spite of his early exit, the Rays racked up a 9-0 victory over the White Sox, moving to 4 1/2 games ahead of the Yankees.
More from the AL East…
- Nelson Cruz was placed on the COVID IL earlier today, but it seems that was mostly precautionary. Per Topkin, Cruz just didn’t feel well this morning. Assuming he doesn’t test positive, Cruz should return to the squad as soon as he feels better. (The COVID IL has no minimum stay.) The 41-year-old was in the midst of yet another excellent season at the plate when he was traded from Minnesota to Tampa, though he’s slumped a bit since then. His .198/.257/.448 line since joining the Rays is a far cry from the numbers he put up before the move, though in a small sample size of just 24 games.
- Yankees’ infielder Gio Urshela is beginning a rehab assignment tonight, per a team announcement. The 29-year-old has been on the IL for about three weeks due to a hamstring strain. It’s been a frustrating few weeks for Urshela, having only played six games since mid-July because of this hamstring issue as well as the Yankees’ lengthy COVID situation. Despite all that, Urshela still has a nice line of .274/.315/.439 on the year, producing a wRC+ of 106. That’s a drop-off from his excellent 2019-2020 production, but still above league average and would be an upgrade to the Yankees’ current lineup. With Gleyber Torres also on the IL, the Yanks have largely been using Rougned Odor and Andrew Velazquez on the left side of the diamond, neither of whom have matched Urshela’s production on the year. Since joining the Yankees, Odor’s slash line is .216/.297/.404, wRC+ of 92, whereas Velazquez is at .242/.265/.424, wRC+ of 84.
- Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi provides updates on some injured Blue Jays. (Twitter links) Catcher Danny Jansen is close to starting a rehab assignment as he works his way back from a hamstring strain. Ross Stripling has started throwing after being shut down due to an oblique injury. But of course, the most notable wounded Blue Jay is George Springer, who recently landed on the IL with a knee sprain. The star outfielder has only been able to play 49 games this year due to various injuries, but has been outstanding when healthy. His .269/.362/.610 slash line is 58% better than league average, per wRC+. Amongst MLB players with more than 200 plate appearances this year, only four of them are above Springer in that regard. In other words, his health is tremendously important to a team that is 4 1/2 games out of a playoff spot. But as Davidi says, despite doing some hitting, Springer still has to run the bases before being considered for game action.