Angels interim manager Phil Nevin told reporters, including Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, that infielder David Fletcher will be going on the 10-day injured list. The corresponding move is not yet known.
Fletcher, 28, was hit on the hand by a pitch a week ago and has been clearly hurt since then. Despite a diminished swinging ability, he has continued taking the field but it seems the ailment will finally put him out of action for a spell. Sam Blum of The Athletic relays that scans on the hand came back negative, which is encouraging. Nevertheless, the club will keep him out of action for 10 days and hope to have him back for the final week of the season. The club is well out of contention, making it fairly logical to let him heal up and get some healthy at-bats before the winter arrives.
Regardless of how things play out from here, it will surely go down as a frustrating campaign for the infielder. This will be his third trip to the IL on the season, having already twice landed on the shelf due to a hip strain. With all that missed time, he’s only been able to get into 54 games on the season so far, producing a .259/.296/.349 batting line that’s been 18% below league average by measure of wRC+.
Fletcher has always provided strong defensive marks at multiple positions, which allows him to be a valuable player even if his bat is a bit below average. The shortened 2020 season is the only time he’s produced a wRC+ above 96, but he’s still produced 7.3 fWAR in 494 career games thanks to his glovework.
Despite having two superstars in Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani on the same team, the Angels have still struggled for years due to subpar performances elsewhere on the roster. MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently took a look at how the starting pitching may be in a better position than it has been in quite some time. With 2023 being Ohtani’s last season before becoming a free agent, it could be argued that the middle infield is the biggest weakness for next year’s club.
This year’s breakout of Luis Rengifo is an encouraging development in that department, but getting Fletcher healthy and productive could be another boost. In 2019, Fletcher played 154 games and produced a wRC+ of 96 but was still worth 3.1 fWAR thanks to his glovework at second base, third base, shortstop and the outfield corners. Rengifo can also play those positions but not as well, though he has hit .275/.305/.443 for a wRC+ of 110 this year. Anthony Rendon and Jared Walsh are expected to be on the corners, though each of those comes with question marks after injury-plagued seasons of their own. Rendon has missed most of this year due to a wrist injury that required surgery while Walsh underwent surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome a few weeks ago. Both are expected to be ready for Spring Training, and Rendon could even return this season, though there’s a great deal of uncertainty hanging over the club’s infield mix for a very crucial season.