- Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes is out indefinitely with left hip inflammation, Christopher Smith of MassLive.com reports. With Boston all but locked into the top seed in the American League, Barnes’ loss isn’t much of a blow now. But it could be if the injury continues to linger into the playoffs, as Barnes leads Red Sox relievers in holds (25) and strikeouts per nine (14.19). He has also thrown the second-most innings (58 1/3) of anyone in Boston’s bullpen and logged an impressive 3.39 ERA/2.71 FIP.
Red Sox Rumors
Red Sox manager Alex Cora announced today that second baseman Dustin Pedroia will not return during the 2018 season, as Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston was among those to report (Twitter links). In fact, Pedroia has been recovering from a previously undisclosed knee surgery since July.
Of course, even without knowing of the surgery, it has long seemed unlikely that Pedroia would make it back to the field this year. The 35-year-old attempted to return from offseason knee surgery but played only three games before again hitting the shelf. While it wasn’t clear at the time that he’d be sidelined this long, there never was much indication of progress over the months that followed.
For the Boston organization, the absence of Pedroia was already accounted for earlier this summer. The club swung a deal for veteran second bagger Ian Kinsler, who is perhaps as neat a match for Pedroia’s skillset and veteran status as could be imagined.
Of course, Kinsler is slated to hit the open market at season’s end, while Pedroia remains under contract through 2021. Under the extension signed over the summer of 2013, Pedroia will earn $40MM total over the ensuing three-year span — a theoretically reasonable sum for a player of his quality, even at this advanced stage of his career, but also now a hefty amount to have committed given his increasingly worrisome slate of injuries.
For now, the Red Sox will surely welcome Pedroia as a non-playing part of the dugout mix as they seek to convert an incredible regular season into postseason glory. But the offseason will present some tough questions. Brock Holt and (likely) Eduardo Nunez will remain on hand as potential options, though clearly the team’s preference would be for those players to function as reserves.
Pedroia says his most recent procedure was to remove scar tissue, so perhaps it’s not a major concern in and of itself. The hope will have to be that a lengthy respite will allow him to finally get the troublesome knee in shape after requiring significant surgeries in each of the past two months of October. And Pedroia himself says he expects to be ready to go for the 2019 season. Surely, though, further infield moves will at least be contemplated.
With Major League teams increasingly adding opt-out provisions to free-agent contracts as a means of incentivizing players to sign, there are now a handful of those decisions that impact the free-agent market every offseason. With nearly 90 percent of the season already in the books, many of the opt-out decisions/player option decisions look pretty clear cut.
Things could change over the final month, but here’s a look at where things currently stand…
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (Two years, $65MM remaining): Truthfully, Kershaw is the only player with an opt-out provision in 2018 who could be called likely to exercise the clause at present. While he hasn’t been quite as dominant as usual and has spent time on the DL for a third straight year (back issues, biceps tendinitis), it’s difficult to imagine him having to take less than that $65MM sum in free agency.
In 131 1/3 innings this season, Kershaw is sporting a 2.40 ERA with 8.7 K/9, 1.4 BB/9, 0.89 HR/9 and a 48.9 percent ground-ball rate. He hasn’t topped 200 innings since 2015, but he’s still a clearly elite starter. If he does formally opt out, the Dodgers can issue a qualifying offer, though perhaps the easiest scenario would be for Los Angeles to simply extend Kershaw’s current contract to prolong his already historic Dodgers career.
David Price, Red Sox (Four years, $127MM remaining): Price is having his best season with the Red Sox, having notched a 3.60 ERA with a strikeout per inning and 2.4 walks per nine innings pitched through 152 1/3 frames. His results have been solid, but it’s nearly impossible to imagine a scenario where he exceeds $127MM in free agency at the age of 33. Price’s Boston tenure has been rocky at times, but it seems likely that he’ll be back in the rotation next season.
Jason Heyward, Cubs (Five years, $106MM remaining): Declining to opt out is little more than a formality for Heyward at this point, as he hasn’t come close to living up to his $184MM contract in Chicago through the first three seasons. To his credit, though the 29-year-old has had a nice rebound effort, hitting .275/.342/.399 with above-average defense in right field. That might make the Cubs feel better about his contract moving forward, but it won’t be enough to prompt Heyward to test free agency. His contract contains a second opt-out clause following the 2019 season, at which point he’ll have four years and $86MM remaining, but that also seems like a long shot.
Elvis Andrus, Rangers (Four years, $58MM): Andrus could be considered more of a borderline call than some on this list, but he seems likelier to stay with Texas than to opt out. The 30-year-old hasn’t had a bad season, hitting .270/.322/.396 with quality defense, but his bat hasn’t been as potent as it was in 2016-17 when he hit a combined .299/.348/.457. The downturn in offensive output might not be entirely Andrus’ fault; he did incur a broken elbow when he was hit by a pitch earlier this season — an injury that caused him to miss just over two months of action. It’s easy to imagine that injury having a lingering effect on Andrus’ swing, too.
Like Heyward, Andrus has a second opt-out clause in his contract after the 2019 season. At that point, he’ll have three years and $43MM remaining on his contract. If his bat returns to its 2016-17 levels, surpassing that $43MM mark in free agency could be plausible. If Andrus opted out, he’d certainly be issued a qualifying offer — there’s no reason for the team to worry about him taking a one-year deal worth about $18MM when he just walked away from $58MM — which would only further hinder his earning power.
Yasmany Tomas, D-backs (Two years, $32.5MM remaining): Tomas clubbed 31 homers with the 2016 Diamondbacks but did so with a .315 on-base percentage and some of the worst defensive ratings of any player in the Majors — regardless of position. He’s since been outrighted off the 40-man roster and, in 371 Triple-A plate appearances this season, has 101 strikeouts against 11 walks with a .280 OBP. Suffice it to say: he’s not going anywhere.
Mark Melancon, Giants (Two years, $28MM remaining): Injuries have ruined Melancon’s first two seasons with the Giants, though he’s been excellent since returning in 2018: 2.64 ERA, 7.9K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 53.1 percent ground-ball rate in 30 2/3 innings. That performance is encouraging for the Giants as they look to 2019, but it won’t be enough to make Melancon’s camp think he can top $28MM heading into his age-34 season.
Brandon Kintzler, Cubs ($5MM player option): Kintzler’s contract technically contains a $10MM club option or a $5MM player option, but it’s clear given his dismal performance since being traded to Chicago that the team won’t be opting for that $10MM sum. Kintzler was very good with the Twins and Nationals from 2016 through this past July, but his typically excellent control has evaporated in Chicago while his hard-contact rate has skyrocketed. It’s only a sample of 11 2/3 innings, but his struggles make the option seem a fairly straightforward decision.
Eduardo Nunez, Red Sox ($5MM player option): Nunez’s deal comes with a $2MM buyout, making this effectively a $3MM decision for his camp. He’s struggled to the point that he may not even want to take that risk, though, hitting just .258/.282/.384 through 473 trips to the plate.
Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reported this week that Nunez’s option increased from $4MM to $5MM once he reached 400 plate appearances. Bradford spoke to Nunez, who acknowledged that the knee that gave out on him in the postseason last year has been a problem for him throughout 2018, though he believes he’s finally “close” to 100 percent. Perhaps a strong month and a big postseason could prompt him to again test the open market, but his overall production to this point makes the player option seem a likelier outcome.
It seems the Mets have yet to get their much-anticipated front-office search underway in earnest. But there has been a steady steam of information on the process of finding a new top baseball operations. (Of course, there still has been no formal announcement that the club will replace Sandy Alderson, who’s currently on leave for cancer treatment, though it is widely expected to take place.) Joel Sherman of the New York Post lays out the team’s thinking on the hiring process, suggesting that ownership is still gathering names to consider but hopes to wrap things up in advance of the GM Meetings. Interestingly, current exec Omar Minaya is said not only to be involved in the process, but also a clear factor moving forward. Per Sherman: “it is clear that whoever does get the position is going to inherit Minaya as an executive with — at the very least — significant say in player personnel, and someone who has the ear and trust of ownership.” There are quite a few names being tossed around at the moment. As Sherman notes, that’s largely reflective of the still-early stage of proceedings — and, perhaps, some differences in preferred approaches between Fred and Jeff Wilpon. Meanwhile, Andy Martino of SNY.tv hears that the Mets are open to utilizing different front office structures (or, at least, allocations of titles) to help open the door to additional candidates. Generally, though, he writes that there’s no “particular top candidate in mind” at the moment.
- Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier likely won’t be able to return this season after suffering a setback in his efforts to return from a concussion, manager Aaron Boone told reporters including Marc Carig of The Athletic (Twitter link). The timing is poor for Frazier, who turns 24 today. With Aaron Judge still working his way back to health, this might have been a prime chance for Frazier to receive an extended opportunity. He has only appeared in 15 MLB games this year but seems in line for more after producing an excellent .311/.389/.574 slash with ten home runs in his 216 plate appearances at Triple-A.
- Red Sox prospect Trey Ball is moving from the mound to the batter’s box, as Greg Levinsky of the Boston Globe notes on Twitter. The Globe’s Alex Speier recently examined the subject, explaining that the 2013 first-rounder was seen as a two-way prospect as a high-school outfielder. With his pitching career fizzling out — he has struggled in consecutive Double-A seasons, despite repeating the level and converting to a relief role — the 24-year-old Ball will now take a second shot at carving out a MLB career.
- As we touched upon earlier tonight, the Martin Prado contract has been an exceedingly poor investment for the Marlins. That’s due mostly to the veteran’s injury and performance struggles, though the contract has also simply failed to line up with the team’s competitive timeline. Of course, that’s due in large part to the stunning death of former star pitcher Jose Fernandez, which occurred not long before the Prado deal was announced and drastically changed the organization’s outlook. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald tweets, in fact, that the club considered halting negotiations with Prado, which had advanced to the point that terms were “in place” (but the contract un-signed) when Fernandez suddenly and tragically passed away. Instead, writes Spencer, the Marlins decided to go through with the deal that they had negotiated.
The Red Sox will call up infielder Brandon Phillips and third baseman Rafael Devers from Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe was among those to report. The team will need to add Phillips to its 40-man roster before promoting him. It currently has one open spot.
Although Phillips has been a quality major leaguer for most of his career, the longtime Red was unable to land a contract in the offseason, thanks in part to his age (37). Phillips finally inked a minor league deal with Boston toward the end of June, and he’s now in line to appear in the majors for the 17th season in a row.
Phillips was superb as a member of Pawtucket, with which he hit .302/.348/.477 in 161 plate appearances to earn a September call-up. He’ll provide second and third base depth for Boston – which, despite its overall dominance this year, hasn’t gotten great production from either position. Devers is partially to blame for that, having slashed just .242/.298/.422 with under 1.0 fWAR in 423 PAs. The promising 21-year-old has also been on the DL on multiple occasions because of hamstring troubles. Consequently, he hasn’t suited up for the Red Sox since Aug. 15.
Red Sox ace Chris Sale is progressing in his recovery from left shoulder inflammation and could return in time to make multiple starts before the playoffs begin, per Max Gelman of MLB.com. Sale has been on the disabled list since Aug. 18 (retroactive to the 15th), his second DL stint on account of shoulder inflammation since July. Sale had been enjoying a Cy Young-caliber campaign before landing on the shelf, and it’s certainly possible he’ll still end up with the award. While Sale has only thrown 146 innings, he leads the AL in ERA (1.97), K/9 (13.5), rWAR (6.5) and fWAR (6.1).
- Back to Boston, which has been without third baseman Rafael Devers since Aug. 17 with a hamstring injury. Devers has been playing with Triple-A Pawtucket of late, and the Red Sox don’t appear to be in a hurry to recall him, Sean McAdam of BostonSportsJournal.com tweets. “One thing’s for sure, Raffy’s got to play better,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “That’s the bottom line. We’re here to win games and whoever’s playing best is going to play.” To Devers’ credit, he did homer at the Triple-A level on Saturday. The 21-year-old has fallen flat in the majors this season after an encouraging rookie campaign in 2017, however, having hit just .242/.298/.422 in 423 plate appearances. Third base has been a disappointment in general for Boston, which has gotten subpar production from both Devers and Eduardo Nunez.
A few call-ups were announced yesterday, but we’re likely to see far more prospect promotions and even contract selections take place today as rosters expand. We’ll use this post to keep track of those moves…
- The Marlins selected the contract of righty starter Jeff Brigham today; he’ll be among those playing in the majors for the first time ever. Brigham’s solid 3.44 ERA in Triple-A this season is muddied a bit by his 4.45 FIP, but he’s maintained solid ratios. Brigham’s 8.25 K/9 and brilliant 2.24 BB/9 give him a solid 3.69 K/BB ratio that probably looks quite nice to a Marlins club that’s hurting for serviceable major league starters. Miami has also recalled right-handers Sandy Alcantara and Nick Wittgren along with catcher Chad Wallach.
- The Athletics selected several contracts today, including that of catching prospect Beau Taylor. The lefty-hitting backstop has never played in the majors, but he’s done well for himself at the Triple-A level this season by drawing walks in 14% of his plate appearances while hitting .248. He’s even chipped in a pair of stolen bases. The biggest knock on Taylor is his lack of power; the 28-year-old owns a sub-.100 ISO and has never hit more than eight homers in a given season. Other contracts selected by the Astros today include those of lefty Dean Kiekhefer and righties Chris Hatcher and Liam Hendriks. The A’s recalled lefty Daniel Coulombe and shortstop Franklin Barreto as well.
- The Indians selected the contract of right-hander Jon Edwards today, who hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since 2015. The 30-year-old Edwards has done well for himself in the Tribe’s minor league system in 2018, though, racking up 56 strikeouts in just 39 1/3 innings while pitching to a 3.64 ERA. Though he’s exhibited extreme control issues in the past, his 2.70 BB/9 in 30 innings with Triple-A Columbus suggests there’s a possibility he’s put those problems behind him. The Tribe promoted catcher Eric Haase to the majors alongside him.
- The Mariners have selected the contract of Justin Grimm among their September moves, whom they signed to a minor league contract on July 25th. Grimm’s been plagued by shoulder and back issues all season and struggled to a cataclysmic 13.50 ERA in 12 2/3 innings for the Royals earlier this season, which led to his release early on in the summer. With the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate, though, he’s put up a pristine 1.64 ERA and an even more impressive 13.91 K/9 mark. In addition to Grimm, Seattle also selected the contract of Kristopher Negron, and recalled right-handers Chasen Bradford and Ryan Cook, lefty James Pazos, catcher David Freitas.
- The Nationals have selected the contract of right-hander Austen Williams, who’ll be getting his first MLB cup of coffee this September. He’s been quite impressive in the upper minors this season, including a 0.55 ERA in 16 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level. That’s backed up by excellent peripherals, including 20 strikeouts against just four walks. Williams had pitched exclusively as a starter until this season, and it appears a transition to a relief role has catapulted him to a status as an incredibly intriguing talent. The Nats also recalled catcher Pedro Severino to fill in while Wieters is dealing with a hip/groin injury (per Jamal Collier of MLB.com).
- The White Sox promoted Caleb Frare to get his first taste of the bigs; as James Fegan of The Athletic points out, he needed to be added to the 40-man roster in order to be protected from the coming winter’s Rule 5 Draft. They’ve good reason to do so, as the lefty reliever has thrived with the organization ever since being acquired from the Yankees a month ago in exchange for $1.5MM in international bonus pool funds. He’s put up fantastic numbers in 12 2/3 innings at Triple-A Charlotte, including a 0.71 ERA and 13.50 K/9. Aaron Bummer will join him as the other White Sox player to receive a September promotion so far.
- The Royals have selected the contract of catcher Meibrys Viloria to account for the hole left by Drew Butera, who was traded to the Rockies yesterday. Fascinatingly, Kansas City decided to promote the 21-year-old Columbia native even though he’s never played above the High-A level. He’s done just fine there, though, batting .260/.342/.360 in 407 plate appearances over the course of 2018. Viriola is expected to maje his MLB debut as early as this week while mainstay catcher Salvador Perez deals with a sprained thumb.
- After a short stay in the minors, righty reliever Ray Black is back up with the Giants. He’s had a poor showing in the majors so far, allowing ten earned runs in 15 1/3 innings. He did manage to strike out 22 batters in that span, though, and owns a 2.11 FIP in 25 2/3 innings at Triple-A this season. His blistering 16.13 K/9 at that level perhaps speaks to his potential even more.
- The Cardinals recalled catcher Carson Kelly today, who’s widely considered to be the club’s catcher of the future once Yadier Molina’s contract is complete. However, he’s yet to prove his worth at the major-league level, as evidenced by his .150/.216/.187 batting line across 118 MLB plate appearances. The Redbirds have also called up lefty Tyler Webb and righty Daniel Poncedeleon.
- The Phillies have opted to recall outfielder Aaron Altherr, who’d largely been a fixture in the club’s major-league outfield for the past two seasons prior to a late-July demotion. While his 13.3% walk rate so far this season was downright fantastic, that was about the only aspect of Altherr’s performance to be happy about; he was striking out at a 32.7% clip while hitting just .171 and slugging just .305. Philadelphia also added outfielder Dylan Cozens and righty reliever Yacksel Rios to their active roster.
- The Yankees are set to give right-hander Stephen Tarpley his first taste of major-league action after selecting his contract earlier today. Tarpley is quite an interesting arm-he’s been utilized as a multi-inning reliever at two levels of the minors this year, and to great effect. Most recently, he’s pitched to a 2.65 ERA and 10.06 K/9 across 17 appearances spanning 34 innings at Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Infielder Tyler Wade and right-hander Luis Cessa will also join the MLB club as rosters expand.
- The Mets will give righty Eric Hanhold his first taste of major-league action, MLBTR has learned. Acquired in the 2017 trade that sent Neil Walker to the Brewers, Hanhold has apparently been quite unlucky to own his 7.11 ERA at Triple-A this season. Rather, his 3.43 FIP in 19 innings at that level produces some level of optimism that he can serve as a quality reliever in the majors. A .429 BABIP and 2.86 K/BB ratio further strengthen that case.
- The Reds are set to give shortstop prospect Blake Trahan a September call-up, as C. Trent Rosencrans of The Athletic was among those to tweet. Trahan came to the Reds by way of the club’s third-round draft pick back in 2015. He did not rank amongst MLB Pipeline’s top 30 Reds prospects in the publication’s most recent rankings, though Fangraphs ranks him 24th in that regard thanks to a 55 speed tool and a 60-grade arm. He’s also likely to be a league-average shortstop. That’s about all there is to like about Trahan at present, as he’s only hit .245/.327/.302 at the minors’ highest level.
- The Reds have also recalled Lucas Sims, who arrived in Cincinnati just prior to the non-waiver trade deadline as part of the package in exchange for sending Adam Duvall to Atlanta. Sims owns a 5.96 ERA and 7.15 K/9 in a Braves uniform, but his minors track record indicates he might have better days yet to come; the righty has managed to strike out at least ten batters per nine innings at every level of the minors post-Rookie ball, and has a sub-4.00 MiLB ERA in each of the past two seasons.
- The Twins will promote right-hander Zach Littell, according to Darren Wolfson of KSTP. Littell has but 3 1/3 innings of MLB experience, during which time he allowed seven earned runs with one strikeout en route to a demotion. His 3.57 ERA at Triple-A this season is far more palatable, albeit unspectacular.
- The Twins also announced that they’ve selected the contract of left-hander Andrew Vasquez, who’ll be receiving his first cup of coffee after pitching to a sub-1.50 ERA out of minor-league bullpens across the past three seasons combined. They’ve also selected catcher Chris Gimenez in addition to recalling outfielder Johnny Field and right-hander Tyler Duffey.
- The Red Sox have officially recalled five players, including first base/outfield type Sam Travis. After serving as a somewhat serviceable piece in 2017 (.263/.325/.342 batting line), Travis has struggled in limited major-league action this year to the tune of a 45 wRC+ and -0.1 fWAR. Boston has also promoted left-handers Bobby Poyner and Robby Scott, as well as right-hander William Cuevas and infielder Tzu-Wei Lin.
- The Tigers have recalled right-hander Sandy Baez from Double-A Erie, per a club announcement. Baez made his major-league debut back on June 4th, entering the game in relief during a double-header. He didn’t allow any runs in 4 1/3 innings, though he did walk three batters in that appearance. Aside from that, Baez has never pitched above Double-A, and owns a troublesome 5.64 ERA there on the 2018 season, in part due to command issues.
- As of Saturday, Red Sox pitchers had a 3.08 ERA when Sandy Leon was catching, compared to a 3.84 ERA with another catcher. Leon’s game-calling and defensive abilities have made him a favorite of the Sox rotation, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald writes, and the team hasn’t lost a beat with Leon taking the bulk of playing time with Christian Vazquez on the DL. Mastrodonato’s piece also delves into Leon’s early development as a player, and how his quick grasp of English helped him easily learn how to work with pitchers.
- Left knee problems have limited Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia to 13 PAs this season and shelved him since May 31, though there is optimism he’ll return in 2018, according to manager Alex Cora (via Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald). “We don’t have anything set as far as timetables, but we’re feeling good with the progress,” Cora said of Pedroia, adding that the 35-year-old will “contribute here in the dugout” even if he’s unable to play again this season. The Pedroia-less Red Sox haven’t gotten much production from any of their second base options this year, evidenced in part by their minus-0.2 fWAR at the position, though the team has still managed easily the majors’ best record (90-40).
Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman went in for a platelet-rich plasma treatment on his ailing left knee, David Lennon of Newsday tweets. Skipper Aaron Boone indicated that the plan is to reevaluate the high-powered lefty in two weeks’ time. That’s a bit less promising than the initial suggestion that Chapman could be back after the minimum ten-day DL stint, though there’s no indication as of yet that there’s any real concern that the injury could carry over into the postseason. For a Yankees team that is all but locked into a Wild Card play-in game, getting Chapman up to full speed by the end of September is of much greater importance than having him available for the final month of the regular season.
- Meanwhile, the Yankees are still waiting for a breakthrough from star outfielder Aaron Judge. As Boone stated, and MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch tweeted, the team has “stopped guessing” as to when Judge’s fractured wrist will be in good enough shape to allow him to resume swinging. In this case, perhaps, there’s a bit more reason to be anxious. It has been a long layoff for Judge, after all, and he’ll want to get as many plate appearances as possible before October arrives. Clearly, though, there’s not much the team can do but wait and hope the wrist improves.
- The news is slightly more promising — though no less clear — on Red Sox southpaw Chris Sale. He’s “doing better” and “getting close,” per Boston manger Alex Cora, as Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reports on Twitter. With a healthy division lead, the Boston organization is in no need of Sale’s services for the next five weeks. But he’s essential to the team’s World Series hopes, so getting his balky shoulder sorted out is a top priority.
- The injured finger of Twins hurler Ervin Santana won’t require surgery, skipper Paul Molitor said and Phil Miller of the Star-Tribune tweeted. That said, the veteran is going to remain shut down until “doctors come up with a plan.” With the Twins’ season sunk and Santana not looking himself since making a brief return to the majors, the objective here is to set him up as well as possible for the future rather than rushing him back in 2018. While no decision has been made as to whether Santana will pitch again for the Twins this year, it could well be that he has already taken the mound for the club for the last time. Minnesota is unlikely to pick up its $14MM option over the right-hander, who will presumably be a popular bounceback target in the offseason to come.
- Indians righty Nick Goody isn’t in need of a new ulnar collateral ligament, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com tweets, but he is headed in for some kind of procedure. That’s rather promising news, given that the 27-year-old was making the rounds to several noted surgeons recently. Goody has missed much of the 2018 season with arm woes, making for a disappointing follow-up to his strong 2017 performance. Last year, Goody worked to a 2.80 ERA with 11.9 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 over 54 2/3 frames. He had been on track to reach arbitration via Super Two status this fall. While he’ll have enough MLB service time to reach it, he won’t be eligible since he has not spent 86 days on the active roster this season.
- It seems the Mariners and Hisashi Iwakuma haven’t given up entirely on the veteran hurler this year. Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto said in a regular appearance on 710 ESPN (write-up via Brent Stecker) that the 37-year-old is nearing a rehab stint, in fact, though it doesn’t sound as if there’s particular cause for optimism that he’ll be a real factor this year. Iwakuma only made six starts in 2017 and hasn’t made it back to competitive action this season. Still, Dipoto suggested he’d do everything possible to get him up to the majors as a reliever down the stretch.