As the stretch run of MLB’s 2023 regular season continues, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day:
1. Lawlar to debut:
The Diamondbacks are expected to promote top infield prospect Jordan Lawlar prior to tonight’s game against the Cubs. The club already cleared space for Lawlar on the active and 40-man rosters by designating Nick Ahmed for assignment last night, so no corresponding moves will be necessary to select Lawlar. A consensus top-25 prospect who even reaches the top-10 of some lists, the 21-year-old Lawlar was selected sixth overall in the 2021 draft and is widely considered to feature plus tools across the board. He’s had a particularly successful season in the minor leagues this year, slashing an impressive .278/.378/.496 in 490 trips to the plate between the Double-A and Triple-A levels despite facing much older competition. Going forward, Lawlar figures to slot into the Arizona lineup at third base. His first assignment will be taking on 25-year-old right-hander Javier Assad (2.69 ERA in 87 innings) at Wrigley Field this evening.
2. Garcia to undergo MRI:
As noted by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, Rangers manager Bruce Bochy told reporters following last night’s loss that outfielder Adolis Garcia is scheduled to undergo an MRI today. Garcia exited yesterday’s game with what was termed “right knee discomfort” after crashing into the outfield wall while trying rob a home run off the bat of Michael Brantley. With the postseason rapidly approaching and the Rangers now on the outside-looking-in of the playoff picture, half a game back of the Blue Jays for the final AL Wild Card spot, Garcia missing anything more than a couple of days would be nothing short of devastating for Texas.
A second-time All Star in 2023, Garcia has paired excellent outfield defense with a .244/.322/.494 slash line in 580 trips to the plate, good for a wRC+ of 118. His 34 home runs this season leave him with the third best total in the AL and tied for eighth on the major league leaderboard with Braves third baseman Austin Riley. Only the club’s big-money middle infield duo of Corey Seager and Marcus Semien have accrued more fWAR than Garcia for the Rangers this season. In the event Garcia misses significant time, the Rangers would likely have to turn to Travis Jankowski as a regular in their outfielder down the stretch or promote top prospect Evan Carter, who was only recently elevated to Triple-A after slashing .284/.411/.451 at the Double-A level.
3. Will Grichuk go unclaimed again?
The Angels have reportedly placed outfielder Randal Grichuk back on waivers, once again leaving the 32-year-old veteran’s future with the club up in the air. Grichuk was the only player to go unclaimed when the Angels placed half a dozen veterans on expiring contracts on waivers late last month, with Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Matt Moore, Dominic Leone and Hunter Renfroe each finding new homes.
While Grichuk is still just a league-average bat on the year and would be ineligible to join a club’s postseason roster, he’s gotten hot recently with a .333/.379/.630 slash line in eight games since first being put on waivers at the end of August. It’s at least conceivable that a team in the thick of the playoff race with a need for outfield help could claim him and look to ride his recent hot stretch through the remainder of the regular season. The Marlins, as one example, recently lost Jorge Soler to the injured list, while the Giants are in need of an offensive boost after posting league-worst figures since the All Star break. Grichuk has been particularly effective against lefties, slashing .314/.375/.559 in 112 plate appearances this season.