Aaron Ashby underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder back in April, which threatened to keep the Brewers southpaw out of action for the entirety of the 2023 season. However, Ashby is set to hit an important checkpoint in his recovery, as MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy writes that Ashby will throw a live bullpen session this week, and possibly be in line to start a minor league rehab assignment next weekend. The rehab assignment is likely to be pretty lengthy given Ashby’s long layoff, though since he’ll almost certainly be brought back as a reliever, he won’t need quite as much work in rebuilding his arm strength.
Moving to a bullpen role will help Ashby’s chances of pitching before the season is over, and it potentially gives Milwaukee an intriguing relief weapon down the stretch. Ashby has worked as both a starter and reliever over his first two MLB seasons, posting a 4.47 ERA, 57.8% grounder rate, 27.1% strikeout rate, and 9.7% walk rate over 139 innings in the big leagues. The Brewers were impressed enough to lock Ashby up to a five-year contract extension last year, and while the lefty is a big part of Milwaukee’s future, the Brew Crew also hope he can contribute to their present push for the division title and some October success.
Other items from around the NL Central…
- The Reds explored trading Nick Senzel prior to the deadline but couldn’t find a deal, and thus Gordon Wittenmyer of the Cincinnati Enquirer thinks Senzel might not be tendered a contract this winter. Senzel is arbitration-eligible for a second time and wouldn’t be hugely expensive to retain (he has a $1.95MM salary in 2023), but the larger issue is that the Reds seem to have moved on from the former top prospect in favor of their new crop of standout youngsters. Injuries have plagued Senzel throughout his career, and he has hit only .236/.301/.364 over 1307 career MLB plate appearances since debuting during the 2019 season. The Reds even demoted Senzel to the minors two weeks ago before recalling him again when Joey Votto went on the IL. In regards to his future in Cincinnati, Senzel said he is just focused on trying to help the team win, and that “I’m not going to be pessimistic about any situation. I’m optimistic wherever the game takes me.”
- The Cubs placed Michael Fulmer on the 15-day IL yesterday due to a forearm strain, a particularly concerning injury for a pitcher with a lengthy history of arm problems. Manager David Ross and pitching coach Tommy Hottovy spoke with reporters (including Maddie Lee of the Chicago Sun-Times) about Fulmer’s injury, saying that he had been trying to pitch through discomfort, with the team trying to accommodate the issue with some extra rest in between bullpen outings. “It wasn’t something we were like, ’Oh my gosh, if we pitch him, we’re in trouble.’ It was stuff we were monitoring,” Hottovy said. “It’s no different than what we do with a lot of guys. But he’s been grinding for a few weeks.” Fulmer will undergo tests on his forearm, but the hope is that some extended rest in the form of an IL stint can get him back onto the mound soon.
- Speaking of forearm injuries, the Cardinals placed right-hander Guillermo Zuniga on the 15-day IL due to a right forearm strain of his own. The placement is retroactive to August 25, and right-hander James Naile was called up from Triple-A Memphis to take Zuniga’s roster spot. Zuniga has been up and down from Memphis a few times this season, and he also spent time on the minor league IL in June. The hard-throwing righty has thrown two innings over two appearances for St. Louis, which marks the first Major League experience of Zuniga’s career.