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The Marlins recorded an important win over the Brewers today, allowing Miami to keep pace in the tight NL wild card race. The Fish won despite Luis Arraez’s absence, as the second baseman didn’t play after making a late exit from Saturday’s game due to a twisted ankle. Arraez had already missed a pair of games this week due to that sore ankle, and exacerbated the problem in somewhat fluky fashion on Saturday. As he told MLB.com and other reporters, Arraez slipped while walking down the dugout steps at the conclusion of the eighth inning, in part because the ballpark had suddenly dimmed the lights for the entrance of closer Tanner Scott.
“It’s frustrating because I need to play….The good thing is I’ve got the day off tomorrow, and then let’s see how I feel the next day,” Arraez said, in reference to Miami’s off-day Monday.
After that break, the Marlins will play their final six games of the regular season — three games against the Mets and three against the Pirates, all on the road. Today’s result notwithstanding, it is hard to imagine the Marlins can push into the playoffs without the Major League batting average leader in the lineup, so Miami fans can only hope that Arraez’s ankle is okay after some rest.
More from the NL East…
- Right-hander Hurston Waldrep’s season is over, as the Braves prospect won’t pitch again in 2023 after tossing 4 1/3 scoreless innings in his first Triple-A start yesterday. The 24th overall pick of the 2023 draft, Waldrep had pitched so well in his first professional season that there had been some speculation that the Braves could turn to the 21-year-old as a secret weapon out of the bullpen for the end of the regular season and into the playoffs. However, Justin Toscano of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that the Braves didn’t want to rush things with the young hurler, and the Triple-A debut came about because the organization wanted Waldrep to get one more outing since the Double-A season is already over. Baseball America and MLB Pipeline each rate Waldrep as the #2 prospect in Atlanta’s farm system, and the righty has delivered a 1.53 ERA and a 33.3% strikeout rate over 29 1/3 total innings, split between A-ball, high-A, Double-A, and Triple-A.
- Prior to tonight’s game with the Phillies, the Mets called up Anthony Kay from Triple-A while optioning right-hander Peyton Battenfield to Triple-A in the corresponding move. It marks Kay’s first stint on New York’s active roster since the lefty was claimed off waivers from the Cubs in mid-September, and he has a 6.35 ERA over 11 1/3 MLB innings with Chicago this season. Selected 31rd overall by the Mets in the 2016 draft, Kay was a notable prospect in the Amazins’ farm system before being dealt to the Blue Jays as part of the Marcus Stroman swap at the 2019 trade deadline. Kay has a 5.60 ERA in 82 innings with Toronto and Chicago at the big league level, and there’s at least a full-circle moment in his career as he finally looks set to make his debut in a Mets uniform.
Rays right-hander Trevor Kelley has cleared waivers and been outrighted off the team’s 40-man roster, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (X link). Kelley will report to Triple-A Durham and remain in the organization, as he has chosen to pass on his right to reject the outright assignment in favor of free agency — Kelley has previously been outrighted in his career, giving him the right to turn down future outright assignments.
Back in January, Kelley exercised this right by entering the free agent market after the Brewers designated him for assignment and outrighted him off their 40-man. The righty reliever signed a minor league deal with Tampa shortly thereafter, and Kelley has been up and down from Durham a few times this season, totaling 15 1/3 innings over 10 games at the Major League level before the Rays designated him for assignment last week.
This majors-to-minors shuttle has been a frequent element of Kelley’s career over his four MLB seasons, and may have contributed to his 6.75 ERA over 50 2/3 frames of work in the big leagues. Debuting with the Red Sox in 2019, Kelley has also pitched with Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Tampa Bay in the majors, and he was a member of the Cubs and Braves organizations in 2021 without seeing any time on their active rosters.
Despite the lack of success in the majors, Kelley’s Triple-A numbers are the easy explanation as to why the 30-year-old keeps getting chances with multiple teams. Kelley has a 2.38 ERA over 197 innings at Triple-A, as well as decent strikeout (24.42%) and walk (8.47%) rates. However, Kelley didn’t perform as well with Durham this year, as he allowed seven homers over 32 2/3 innings en route to posting a 5.23 ERA.
As relayed by Chandler Rome of The Athletic, Astros GM Dana Brown went on the club’s pregame radio show to discuss the status of veteran outfielder Michael Brantley, who has battled a shoulder injury throughout the year and only appeared in 12 games for the club to this point as a result. According to Brown, Brantley has been dealing with renewed soreness but has been “battling trying to get back” and that he felt “a little better” after taking batting practice today. Brown hopes that he’ll be able to return to the lineup for the club’s series against Seattle, which begins tomorrow.
With Brantley sidelined, Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker are the left-handed hitting regulars on the Astros, with righty bats Jake Meyers and Mauricio Dubon having spent time in center field while Chas McCormick moves to left to cover for Brantley. With Alvarez working through an ailment of his own, it’s possible that Brantley won’t return to the lineup until he’s ready to play the outfield, with manager Dusty Baker having recently stated that the club is looking to avoid playing Alvarez on the field due to his elbow issue. Brantley has slashed .262/.273/.429 to this point in the season, though that stat line only represents a tiny sample size of 44 trips to the plate thanks to Brantley’s injury woes.
More from around the American League…
- Star White Sox slugger Luis Robert Jr. exited today’s game against the Red Sox due to knee soreness after stealing his 20th base of the season. He was replaced in the game by outfielder Trayce Thompson. According to Scott Merkin of MLB.com, Robert will be evaluated further tomorrow in Chicago. Robert has been a rare bright spot in what has been an otherwise brutal White Sox season, with a .264/.314/.542 slash line and 38 home runs through 144 games this season while playing quality defense in center field. If Robert requires a stay on the shelf to end the season, Thompson, Oscar Colas, and Adam Haseley figure to be the club’s options in center field going forward.
- The Yankees have been without right-hander Frankie Montas all season, though it’s possible that could change before he departs for free agency this offseason. As noted by Greg Joyce of the New York Post, manager Aaron Boone told reporters this afternoon that it’s “possible” Montas could make his way back to the big leagues before the end of the year, as the club and player are still talking about next steps for the 30-year-old. Montas made his second rehab start at the Triple-A level yesterday, tossing two scoreless innings on 25 pitches with two strikeouts.
- Rays infielder Yandy Diaz exited today’s game against the Blue Jays due to what what the club has termed right hamstring tightness, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. While the severity of the injury is not currently known, with the postseason creeping ever closer an injury of any significance would be a significant blow to the Rays. The club has already lost Brandon Lowe and Luke Raley to injury, and Diaz has been the club’s top offensive performer with a .327/.407/.515 slash line in 594 trips to the plate. Fortunately for the Rays, the club has a deep bench of quality youngsters including Junior Caminero, Jonathan Aranda, and Curtis Mead who can help cover for injuries, though the hole Diaz would leave in the lineup headed into the postseason would be difficult to fill. [UPDATE: Rays manager Kevin Cash told Topkin and other reporters postgame that Diaz’s removal was “more precautionary” in nature than a serious injury concern, and that Diaz is now feeling better.]
The Guardians activated right-hander Triston McKenzie from the 60-day IL earlier today, per the MLB.com transactions log. McKenzie will take the 40-man roster spot of Tanner Bibee, who was transferred to the 60-day IL in a corresponding move, and the active roster spot of Michael Kelly, who was optioned to Triple-A Columbus.
McKenzie, 26, help to power the Guardians to a AL Central crown in 2022 with a breakout campaign. He posted a 2.96 ERA, 29% better than league average by measure of ERA+, with a 3.59 ERA and 190 strikeouts in 191 1/3 innings of work. After that impressive season, McKenzie figured to slot in alongside Shane Bieber at the front of Cleveland’s rotation entering 2023. Unfortunately, McKenzie has been limited to just ten innings of 4.50 ERA ball across two starts this season due to injuries. After missing the first two months of the season with a shoulder strain, McKenzie went back on the shelf shortly thereafter thanks to a UCL sprain and hasn’t pitched in the majors since. That’s set to change today, however, as McKenzie is poised to take the ball for today’s game against the Orioles.
Looking ahead to the offseason, McKenzie will be eligible for salary arbitration for the first time in his career this winter and in 2024 figures to join Bieber and youngsters Bibee, Gavin Williams, and Logan Allen in the club’s starting rotation as the club hopes to rebound from a difficult 2023 campaign that’s seen them post a record of just 74-82 to this point in the season. As for Bibee, the news hardly comes as a surprise as his season had already come to a close due to hip inflammation. Kelly, meanwhile, has provided solid innings for the Guardians while shuttling between Triple-A and the majors this year, with a 3.78 ERA and a 2.96 FIP in 14 appearances.
The Angels are calling up right-hander Carson Fulmer, as noted by Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. He’ll take the active roster spot of lefty Tyler Anderson, who was placed on the injured list yesterday with left knee soreness. A 40-man roster spot was cleared for Fulmer by placing outfielder Mike Trout on the 60-day IL, with manager Phil Nevin confirming to reporters (including Bollinger) that the veteran star’s season is over. The club also announced that infielder Mike Moustakas has been reinstated from the 10-day IL, with first baseman C.J. Cron going on the injured list to clear space on the active roster.
Fulmer was selected eighth overall in the 2015 draft by the White Sox and made his major league debut back in 2016, though he was never able to full establish himself in the majors. He posted a 6.56 ERA across 94 2/3 innings of work between 2016 and 2019 with Chicago before making brief cameos in Detroit, Baltimore, and Cincinnati over the 2020 and 2021 seasons. In those two seasons, Fulmer combined for a 6.00 ERA and 4.59 FIP in 36 innings of work.
Fulmer didn’t pitch in the majors in 2022, instead spending the season with the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City. He posted a 2.86 ERA in 56 2/3 innings at that level last year, strong enough numbers that the Angels opted to offer him a minor league deal back in May. Things didn’t go as smoothly for Fulmer this year, however, as he posted a 5.27 ERA in 41 innings of work with the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate in Salt Lake City. Nonetheless, Fulmer will get his first taste of big league action since 2021 with the Angels as they look toward what remains of their depth to help cover innings for the season’s final stretch.
The addition of Fulmer to the roster officially brings the season to an end for Trout, who appeared in just one game after landing on the injured list with a left hamate fracture in early July. It was a relative down season for Trout when he was on the field, as the superstar slashed .263/.367/.490 in 362 trips to the plate with the Angels this year. Of course, those numbers still clock in at 34% better than league average by measure of wRC+ and really only constitute a down season by Trout’s incredibly lofty standards. Trout will look toward a return to the field in 2024, where better health hopefully awaits him after averaging just 79 games a season since the start of the 2021 campaign.
Also done for the year is Cron, who slashed a decent .260/.304/.476 in 224 trips to the plate with Colorado this year but saw his performance take a nosedive following a trade to Anaheim. In 15 games with the Angels, Cron posted a brutal .200/.259/.260 slash line that was good for a wRC+ of just 42. A pending free agent this offseason, Cron will face stiff competition from players like Rhys Hoskins, Garrett Cooper and Brandon Belt who are also primarily limited to first base defensively. Cron’s placement on the IL makes way for the return of Moustakas, who similarly posted solid numbers in Colorado before suffering a downturn in performance upon heading to Anaheim. Overall, Moustakas has slashed .252/.300/.404 in 370 trips to the plate this season.
The Twins announced this morning that the club had activated right-hander Chris Paddack from the 60-day IL. Left-hander Jovani Moran was recalled and placed on the 60-day IL to make way for Paddack on the 40-man roster, while right-hander Josh Winder was optioned to Triple-A to clear space on the active roster.
Paddack, 27, is returning from the second Tommy John surgery of his career. An eighth-round pick by the Marlins in the 2015 draft, he was shipped to the Padres in exchange for closer Fernando Rodney just one year later. Paddack eventually made his big league debut in 2019 and made a strong impression during his rookie campaign. The youngster posted a 3.33 ERA across 140 2/3 innings of work with a 26.9% strikeout rate against a walk rate of just 5.5%. Things took a turn for a worse during the shortened 2020 season, however, as his ERA shot up to 4.73 across 12 starts, thanks in large part to an unbelievable 25% of his fly balls leaving the yard for home runs.
While Paddack’s home run rate came back down to Earth in 2021, his results remained less than stellar. His 5.07 ERA was 23% worse than league average by measure of ERA+, and while his career-best 3.78 FIP and a career-low 60.7% strand rate indicated that misfortune could be plaguing Paddack, the righty’s strikeout rate had dipped to just 21.6%, a far cry from the highs of his rookie season. Paddack also dealt with injuries throughout the 2021 campaign, with three trips to the injured list costing him a total of two months.
The struggles led the Padres to move on from Paddack, shipping him to Minnesota ahead of the 2022 season alongside right-hander Emilio Pagan in exchange for lefty Taylor Rogers and outfielder Brent Rooker. Paddack looked to have better days on the horizon through five starts with his new club, as he posted a 4.03 ERA and 3.18 FIP across 22 1/3 innings of work. Unfortunately for both Paddack and the Twins, the righty would subsequently require surgery that would wipe out the remainder of his 2022 season and the entire 2023 campaign to this point. Of course, the injury woes didn’t stop the sides from coming together on a three-year pact this offseason that bought out what otherwise would have been his first free agent year.
Now back on the mound in the big leagues, Paddack is expected to work out of the bullpen for the Twins down the stretch and into the postseason, though after stretching out to 60 pitches in the minors, it’s certainly plausible that he could provide Minnesota with rotation depth or a piggyback starter in the playoffs, should the club wind up in a pinch at some point. Looking ahead to 2024, Paddack seems poised to be in the mix for the club’s rotation alongside Pablo Lopez, Bailey Ober, and Joe Ryan following the impending departures of Sonny Gray and Kenta Maeda via free agency.
Moran, 26, posted a 5.31 ERA in 42 1/3 innings of work for the Twins this season but hasn’t appeared in the majors since early August. He was placed on the IL in the minor leagues at the end of August with a forearm strain, and evidently will not pitch again this season. As for Winder, the righty has posted a solid 4.15 ERA in 34 2/3 innings of work as a long reliever for the Twins this year, his first since converting to the bullpen full time. He could provide the Twins with starting depth throughout their postseason run, but won’t be eligible to return to the regular season roster this year unless he replaces an injured player.
The Braves announced today that veteran right-hander Charlie Morton had been placed on the 15-day injured list with right index finger inflammation. Fellow righty Allan Winans was called up in the corresponding move. The move not only ends Morton’s regular season, but also means that he will likely be unable to pitch in the NLDS as well, as he won’t be eligible to be activated until after rosters are set for the series. That said, if the Braves need to make an IL move midway through the series, it’s possible that they could activate Morton as a corresponding move when replacing the hypothetical injured player.
In any case, the loss of Morton is a major blow to a Braves team that has reigned as baseball’s best club throughout most of the 2023 campaign. Slated to be the club’s Game 3 starter this postseason behind the club’s dual aces Max Fried and Spencer Strider, the 39-year-old hurler has put together a vintage season for the Braves this year with a 3.64 ERA that’s 21% better than league average by measure of ERA+ and is backed up by a solid 3.88 FIP. Morton boasts a solid 25.6% strikeout rate and has generated groundballs at a solid 43.3% clip this season.
With Morton likely out for the NLDS, the club figures to turn to right-hander Bryce Elder to take the ball behind Fried and Strider. Elder was nothing short of incredible in the first half with a 2.97 ERA in his first eighteen starts, but the young righty has struggled badly in recent months with a 5.40 ERA and a nearly matching 5.37 FIP in his last 13 appearances. Another possibility would be right-hander Kyle Wright, who posted a 3.19 ERA en route to a MLB-leading 21-win campaign last year, but the 27-year-old hurler has battled injuries and ineffectiveness throughout the year, posting a brutal 7.71 ERA across just 25 1/3 innings of work. With limited time remaining for Wright to right the ship, it seems likely Atlanta will opt to utilize Elder to round out the playoff rotation until Morton is eligible to return.
In the meantime, replacing Morton on the roster is Winans, a 27-year-old rookie who sports a 4.50 ERA and 2.76 FIP across four spot starts this season. He’ll make another start this afternoon in game one of the club’s doubleheader against the Nationals opposite right-hander Jackson Rutledge.
The Red Sox announced a series of roster moves this morning. The club activated right-hander Zack Kelly from the 60-day injured list, and in corresponding moves optioned righty Nick Robertson to Triple-A while designating fellow right-hander Kyle Barraclough for assignment.
Kelly’s return, while not necessarily unexpected, is surely a major relief for both the Red Sox and Kelly himself. The 28-year-old righty has been on the 60-day injured list for most of the season to this point thanks to an ulnar nerve transposition revision in his throwing elbow he underwent at the beginning of May. Despite battling injuries to this point in his big league career, Kelly has been effective on the mound when healthy, with a career 3.86 ERA in 21 innings of work that includes a 3.68 ERA across six appearances this season. In returning for the final games of the season, Kelly should have the opportunity to test his arm ahead of the offseason and prepare himself for a typical offseason regimen with an eye on returning to the club’s bullpen in 2024.
The move spells the end of Barraclough’s tenure with the Red Sox. Once a quality reliever with the Marlins who posted a 3.21 ERA (122 ERA+) and 3.45 FIP to go with a 29.8% strikeout rate from 2015-18, Barraclough has struggled in limited big league opportunities ever since. In 63 1/3 innings of work since the start of the 2019 season, Barraclough has seen his strikeout rate dip to 23.1% despite an elevated 12.7% walk rate. As a result, his ERA has ballooned to 6.11 with a 6.45 FIP during that time. To make matters worse, Barraclough’s strikeouts have all but evaporated this year: he’s punched out just four of the 46 batters he’s faced with Boston.
While Barraclough’s results at the big league level have been rough for several seasons at this point, he figures to look ahead to the offseason with a solid chance of landing a minor league deal somewhere, should he choose to do so. After all, the veteran righty has a track record of past success in Miami and has never stopped performing at the Triple-A level, with a career 3.44 ERA in 170 innings of work at the level. Robertson also figures to look toward translating success in the minors to big league production headed into 2024, as the 24-year-old hurler sports a brutal 6.33 ERA in 21 1/3 career innings as a major leaguer despite a sterling 2.98 ERA in 51 games at the Triple-A level.
Blue Jays slugger Brandon Belt has been on the shelf for the past two weeks with low back spasms, but could be nearing a return per MLB.com. The veteran has joined the club on their current road trip and has been progressing well. Toronto intends to “simulate game situations” today as a final step before his impending activation from the injured list.
It’s welcome news for the Blue Jays, as Belt’s 134 wRC+ this year is only bested by small-sample size efforts by Davis Schneider and Ernie Clement. In 382 trips to the plate this season, Belt has slashed a solid .251/.369/.470 in his shift to a part time role with Toronto. That production comes in spite of a career-high 35.1% strikeout rate, though his whiffs are offset somewhat by a 15.7% walk rate that’s excellent even by Belt’s own lofty standards. The return of Belt figures to push utility player Cavan Biggio back to the bench and could provide a spark for the Blue Jays as they find themselves in the second AL Wild Card spot with just seven games left in the regular season, one game up on the Astros and 1.5 games ahead of the Mariners.
More from around the AL East…
- Orioles manager Brandon Hyde indicated to reporters (including MASN’s Roch Kubatko) yesterday that first baseman Ryan Mountcastle is progressing well in his rehab from a shoulder injury that sidelined him just over a week ago. Mountcastle hasn’t returned to hitting yet but stood in the batter’s box to track pitches during injured closer Felix Bautista’s most recent bullpen session. Though Bautista’s timetable for return still appears to be up in the air, Mountcastle is expected to be ready to come off the injured list in time for Wednesday’s game against the Nationals. Mountcastle is hitting a respectable .269/.327/.453 in 459 trips to the plate this season and has been covered for by Ryan O’Hearn at first base in recent days.
- Rays reliever Jason Adam was placed on the 15-day injured list due to a strained oblique yesterday, just one day after returning from a three-week IL stint for a separate oblique strain. While Adam’s injury will sideline him into the postseason, the 31-year-old is nonetheless hopeful that he’ll be able to return this season if the Rays make a deep postseason run, as he told reporters (including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times) that he wants to return despite being “more sore this time than last time.” Adam’s 2023 regular season comes to a close with a 2.98 ERA, 4.00 FIP and 31.1% strikeout rate over 56 appearances.
- Sticking with the Rays, outfielder Randy Arozarena is still day-to-day with tightness in his right quad. Despite manager Kevin Cash telling reporters (including MLB.com) that the 28-year-old could have been available off the bench during yesterday’s game against the Blue Jays, he didn’t make an appearance. Still, Arozarena told reporters through an interpreter that he was feeling “pretty good” and hoping to return in the near future. Arozarena’s return figures to provide a boost to the Rays lineup, as the first-time All Star has slashed .255/.363/.427 in 640 trips to the plate this year while acting as the club’s regular left fielder.