As the 2023 regular season continues, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:
1. Betts on crutches:
The Dodgers are facing an injury scare with superstar Mookie Betts, as Isaac Azout of Fish On First noted last night that the MVP candidate left loanDepot Park on crutches. Jack Harris of the L.A. Times echoed that report while also indicating that Betts underwent x-rays on his foot after fouling a pitch off of it earlier in the game. Those x-rays came back negative, with MLB.com’s Juan Toribio indicating that they were precautionary. Betts will be re-evaluated today.
With so little time left in the regular season, even a fairly short absence would impact both the NL MVP race and the Dodgers’ odds of catching the Braves for the top seed in the NL this postseason. Betts, teammate Freddie Freeman, and Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. are the favorites in the Senior Circuit’s Most Valuable Player race. Betts trails only Shohei Ohtani in wins above replacement this year, per both FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference, thanks to his sensational .314/.411/.609 batting line, 38 home runs and solid defense around the diamond (right field, second base, shortstop). Acuna is hitting .331/.411/.579 and is the first player to ever hit 30 home runs and steal 60 bases in the same season.
From a team vantage point, an absence of any note would be devastating for a Dodgers club that has leaned heavily on Betts and Freeman for offensive production throughout the season; the duo have combined for a whopping 14.7 fWAR this year, while the rest of L.A.’s 23 total position players used this season have combined for 15.0 fWAR.
2. Royals roster move incoming:
The Royals transferred lefty Daniel Lynch to the 60-day injured list yesterday and optioned infielder Matt Beaty to Triple-A yesterday, creating openings on both the 40-man and active roster. With a roster move necessary before tonight’s game in Toronto and 60-day IL moves typically followed by a corresponding 40-man addition, Kansas City seems likely add a player to the 40-man today. That could be an activation from the 60-day IL like right-hander Brad Keller, or it could be a contract selection of a player in the minors. Of course, it’s also possible that the club could leave the 40-man roster spot open and simply activate Nick Pratto from the 10-day IL to replace Beaty on the roster. Both Keller and Pratto have been on rehab assignments since August.
3. Means to be activated this weekend:
As noted on MLB.com, the Orioles intend to move to a six-man rotation upon the return left-hander John Means, whom Jacob Calvin Meyer of the Baltimore Sun indicates will be activated off the 60-day injured list at some point this weekend. The Orioles have announced Kyle Bradish, Jack Flaherty, and Grayson Rodriguez as the starters for the club’s series in Boston this weekend, so it’s possible Means will pitch out of the bullpen as a long reliever rather than join the club’s rotation. Whatever role Means fills, he figures to help boost an Orioles pitching staff that recently lost closer Felix Bautista to injury and is looking to keep starters like Bradish, Rodriguez, and Kyle Gibson healthy ahead of the postseason.