With the beginning of All-Star festivities just around the corner, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day:
1. Ruiz to undergo testing:
A’s outfielder Esteury Ruiz injured his throwing shoulder while diving back towards first base during yesterday’s win over the Tigers, manager Mark Kotsay told reporters, including Martin Gallegos of MLB.com. Ruiz will undergo x-rays and potentially an MRI today. The 24-year-old rookie, who was shipped to Milwaukee from the Padres in the Josh Hader trade at the deadline last year before joining Oakland in the three-team deal that sent Sean Murphy to Atlanta, has had an unusual season as the club’s starting center fielder. Ruiz owns a slash line of just .257/.310/.329 across 369 plate appearances this season, good for a wRC+ of just 85.
While that performance at the plate certainly leaves something to be desired, it’s been paired with solid defense in center field and a whopping 43 stolen bases, a figure that leads the majors. With fellow outfielder Ramon Laureano already on the injured list himself, outfielder JJ Bleday seems likely to slide over to center if Ruiz misses time, opening up more starts for Brent Rooker and Seth Brown in the outfield corners.
2. Dodgers to make IL decision on Graterol:
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters (including Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic) that right-hander Brusdar Graterol has been dealing with an arm issue that’s caused him to be unavailable for the past two days. Trips to the injured list can be backdated a maximum of three days, so it’s hardly shocking that Roberts indicated a decision on whether Graterol will require an IL stint for the issue will be made prior to tonight’s game against the Pirates.
Graterol, 24, is among the few bright spots in the Dodgers’ bullpen this season. The hard-throwing righty sports an ERA of just 1.95 with a 3.10 FIP in 37 innings of work. Alongside closer Evan Phillips and left-hander Caleb Ferguson, Graterol creates the backbone of a Dodgers bullpen that has struggled outside of its core, resulting in collective 4.47 ERA that ranks seventh-worst in the majors. Should Graterol miss time, lefties Alex Vesia, Justin Bruihl, and Victor Gonzalez are all on the 40-man roster at the Triple-A level, as is righty Nick Robertson.
3. Series Preview: Astros vs. Mariners
A series to watch begins in Houston this evening, as the Astros take on the Mariners. The Astros haven’t looked like the same dominant team that stormed to their second World Series championship in six seasons last October, sporting a 49-38 record that puts them in second place in the AL West. Similarly, the Mariners have slipped since ending MLB’s longest active postseason drought last year, with a record of just 42-43 in 2023.
The four-game set, which kicks off 7:10pm CT this evening, could have significant implications for both clubs going forward. The Astros are just two games behind the Rangers for the division crown after going 8-2 over their last ten games. With Texas facing a 34-52 Nationals squad in their final series before the All-Star break, Houston will likely need a strong series to stay on their heels. Meanwhile, the Mariners are one of several preseason playoff contenders who have struggled to this point in the 2023 campaign. A particularly strong or weak showing during this series from Seattle could impact their front office’s decision-making ahead of the trade deadline on August 1.
The Mariners will send George Kirby, Luis Castillo, Bryan Woo and Logan Gilbert to the mound. Houston, meanwhile, has tonight’s starter listed as TBD, with a trio of Hunter Brown, Framber Valdez and Brandon Bielak to follow. Chandler Rome of The Athletic tweets that Cristian Javier will not start a game during the team’s final series before the break.