- The Cards recalled Giovanny Gallegos from Triple A today, the club announced and Joe Trezza of MLB.com tweeted. The 27-year-old reliever – whom you’ll recall was one of the arms acquired from the Yankees in the late-summer swap for Luke Voit – will be available out of the St. Louis bullpen. With the playoff race nearing its apex, Gallegos isn’t likely to see a lot of usage, but an extra arm never hurts this time of year.
- Trezza also tweeted that Cards manager Mike Shildt expects Bud Norris (blister) to be available out out of the pen tonight. Norris was pulled in the 7th inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers last Sunday when the blister surfaced. Though the deposed closer has struggled at times this year, he figures to be an important piece of the puzzle in the final week. With the final six games against the division-rival Brewers and Cubs, there figure to be more than enough high-leverage, heart-pounding situations to go around – even if he’s not closing games.
- In a separate piece from Goold, Cardinals president of baseball ops John Mozeliak confirms some items of interest about the club’s future bullpen. Namely, current closer Carlos Martinez will indeed return to the starting rotation next season. A tight rehab timeline, coupled with the team’s needs, prompted Martinez’s move to the pen late this year. While it has worked out quite well thus far, however, it seems more happy accident than long-term strategy.
- Speaking of the late-inning mix, flame-throwing rookie Jordan Hicks will have no restrictions the rest of the way because of the built-in days off. Though he’s still roughly 25 innings shy of his total innings tally from last season, when he was pitching as a starter in the minors, Hicks has still been relied upon rather heavily in 2018. Pitching every couple of days is a different animal, as is the pressure the 22-year-old faces as a late-innings reliever in a pennant race. Regardless, Shildt will have unfettered access to his young fireballer as the Cardinals try to lock down a spot in the playoffs.
- As Goold also covers, the Cardinals have no intention of altering their starting rotation for the final week of the season. It’ll be Austin Gomber, Jack Flaherty, and John Gant facing off against Milwaukee starting Monday.
In his latest column, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer calls it “unlikely” that outfielder Leonys Martin will play with the Indians again this season. A trade deadline pickup, Martin has been on the disabled list for more than a week after being diagnosed with a bacterial infection that, at one point, was considered to be life-threatening in nature. While all of baseball breathed a collective sigh of relief when the Indians announced that Martin was in stable condition and expected to make a full recovery, his absence puts Cleveland back in the same spot it was prior to acquiring him in late July. Michael Brantley is performing well again as the team’s regular left fielder, but the rest of the outfield mix is comprised by struggling rookie Greg Allen and poorly performing veterans Rajai Davis and Melky Cabrera. It seems reasonable to expect that the team will be on the hunt for additional outfield help between now and Aug. 31.
Here are some additional health updates from around the game:
- Indians skipper Terry Francona says the club anticipates that breakout righty Trevor Bauer will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a fibula stress fracture, as T.J. Zuppe of The Athletic was among those to tweet. That’s obviously a huge disappointment for a pitcher who has emerged as one of the best in baseball this year. With the postseason beckoning, it’s also a big concern for the Cleveland ballclub. Of course, the team will not need to worry about the loss down the stretch with the division all but in hand. But it’ll certainly be interesting to see just how Bauer is brought along as the playoffs approach.
- It was a mixed bag of injury news today for the Red Sox, who will send third baseman Rafael Devers to the 10-day disabled list while activating second bagger Ian Kinsler. No further roster moves will be necessary to accommodate the change. Devers is hitting the shelf for the third time in the last six weeks or so and it’s the second occasion as to which the hamstring is to blame. That said, it’s not clear that the organization really believes there’s cause for concern that Devers won’t be at full strength come October.
- Tigers backstop John Hicks likely won’t make it back this year after requiring abdominal surgery, as Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press recently reported. That’s a disappointing turn for a player who has turned in a solid performance in a robust role this year. Hicks, who is nearing his 29th birthday, has hit within range of league average at the MLB level since landing in Detroit. While he has been miscast as a part-time first baseman, his offensive work is more than adequate for a time-sharing catcher.
- The Rangers have placed center fielder Delino DeShields Jr. on the 10-day DL with a finger fracture. He suffered the break to the tip of his right middle finger. Drew Robinson will be recalled to take the roster spot. It has been a tough year at the plate for DeShields, who turned 26 just yesterday. He has swiped 18 bags on the year, but carries only a .204/.303/.272 slash over 348 plate appearances. As the Rangers look ahead to an offseason of uncertainty, they’d surely like to see DeShields in action as much as possible, so the hope will be that he can bounce back relatively quickly.
- Elsewhere in Texas, the slumping Astros were glad today to get some promising injury reports. Outfielder George Springer was activated off of the 10-day DL, as Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports (Twitter links). Meanwhile, star second bagger Jose Altuve will likely need a rehab stint but seems to be progressing from his knee issues. The ’Stros are trying to hold off a surprisingly strong challenge in the division.
- Nationals righty Jeremy Hellickson is destined for his own DL stint, as Pete Kerzel of MASNsports.com was among those to report. Fortunately, he’s dealing with a sprain rather than a break in his wrist, which was injured in a play at the plate. It seems the Nats are hopeful that Stephen Strasburg could be ready to return by Tuesday, when Hellickson was next scheduled to start. Losing Hellickson would only be the latest blow for an organization that has dealt with problem after problem in 2018. While it’s still not impossible to imagine a late surge, the Nats need all hands on deck to make a comeback plausible.
- For the Cardinals, it has been all positives of late. But the team could still stand to get a few pieces back. In particular, righties Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez are on the come back trail. As MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch tweets, Wacha is set to begin a rehab assignment in short order and Martinez is now working in a relief capacity in the minors. In the case of Martinez, the plan is for him to shift to the bullpen when he is ready to roll, which perhaps won’t be far off now that he’s pitching competitively.
The Cardinals have decided to utilize righty Carlos Martinez as a reliever down the stretch, as Peter Baugh of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was among those to report. Martinez has been sidelined with a shoulder strain.
Unsurprisingly, the move is expected only to be temporary. The idea seems to be that it would simply take too long to get Martinez back up to speed as a starter. By bumping him into the relief unit, he can perhaps make an impact down the stretch for the Cards before preparing to stretch back out next spring.
Martinez will first need to get back on the hill — and stay there. He has compiled 100 1/3 innings of 3.41 ERA pitching thus far this year, but has also dealt with a series of arm and back injuries that are fairly concerning in the aggregate. His average four-seam fastball is down a full tick from 2017, with his more-frequently utilized sinker falling 2.3 mph.
Surely, the Cardinals will exercise care in handling Martinez. The increasingly worrisome health situation takes place against the backdrop of a significant investment. Martinez remains under team control through 2023 under the extension he signed back in February of 2017, with a guaranteed $34.5MM due over the next three seasons before successive options priced at $17MM and $18MM (each of which come with $500K buyouts).
That’s not to say there isn’t also an interest in getting Martinez back in action as soon as possible. He hasn’t pitched in a relief capacity since he was still establishing himself in the majors, but clearly a pitcher of his abilities could make for a notable addition to the St. Louis bullpen. The Cards are still 2.5 games out of postseason position, but have played quite well of late and entered action today eight games over .500.
The Cardinals’ decision to send Tommy Pham to the Rays caused quite some eyebrow raising among rival executives, according to Jayson Stark of The Athletic. (Stark also ran down a host of other interesting items heading out of the deadline in a subscription piece.) Some around the game see it tied to the fact that, after a lengthy run of success, the Cards are increasingly in flux. Pham had seemed a core piece as recently as this past winter, when the team dealt away other young outfielders, but is now the latest player on the move. The St. Louis club is still two games over .500, has plenty of controllable talent, and isn’t even out of the 2018 postseason picture. But one rival questions whether the organization has “a real understanding of where they are within their process.”
- One of those recent outfield swaps brought the Cardinals reliever Dominic Leone, who worked his first rehab outing for Triple-A Memphis yesterday, striking out two batters in an inning of work. That’s good news for the right-hander, who has been sidelined for much of the year with a biceps nerve problem. He’s still controllable through 2021, so the Cards have time to reap value from the 26-year-old.
- Meanwhile, it’s possible that veteran reliever Luke Gregerson won’t return to the majors this year, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch recently tweeted. Gregerson was sidelined with a shoulder injury when he suffered a torn meniscus that required surgery. The 34-year-old, who inked a two-year, $11MM pact with St. Louis over the winter, has only thrown 12 2/3 frames for the club this season. He allowed ten earned runs in that span, but more worryingly showed some other declines. Gregerson was working at about 1.5 mph less with his average heater than in 2017 while sporting a 12.6% swinging-strike rate that’s well off of his recent levels.
- In other pitching news, the organization has decided to bump rookie Austin Gomber into the rotation to take the place of Carlos Martinez, who just headed back onto the DL, per MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch (via Twitter). The 24-year-old Gomber has thrown 22 1/3 innings of 3.22 ERA ball this year in the majors, though his peripherals (7.3 K/9, 4.4 BB/9, 33.3% groundball rate) aren’t quite so promising. As Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes on Twitter, the organization could soon face an “innings crisis” if it can’t get lengthier outings from its young arms while several veterans work back from the DL. Fortunately, as Langosch recently reported, there is some continued optimism that Martinez won’t require a lengthy absence, though it remains concerning that he has suffered a string of problems in his shoulder and back.
The Red Sox struck a deal with the Angels today to acquire second baseman Ian Kinsler, and although that’s not a firm indicator that the injured Dustin Pedroia won’t make it back to the field, Christopher Smith of Masslive.com reports that the club doesn’t seem overly optimistic about the prospect of his return. “I can’t say we don’t expect him to return but we’re not anticipating that he’s going to be,” said Dave Dombrowski, the club’s president of baseball operations. Pedroia’s currently rehabbing back in Arizona, and has yet to make any significant contribution this season after undergoing offseason knee surgery.
A few more injury notes from around the league…
- The Cardinals have officially placed right-hander Carlos Martinez back on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain. Martinez owns a 3.41 ERA on the season, and ERA estimators like FIP (3.65) and xFIP (4.44) paint a slightly worse picture. That’s not the whole story though, as Martinez owns an ERA above 5 since returning from his first DL stint thanks to a lat strain.
- Likewise, the Braves have placed righty reliever Peter Moylan on the 10-day DL (with a right forearm strain) retroactive to Sunday. Moylan hasn’t looked quite like himself this season; usually a talented right-handed specialist, he’s been hit hard this season to the tune of a 4.45 ERA while walking an uncharacteristic 5.72 batters per nine innings.
- The Yankees sent newly-acquired starter J.A. Happ home on Tuesday after he reportedly contracted a “hand, foot and mouth disease”. The left-hander might not make his next scheduled start against the Red Sox. Happ was acquired by the Yankees just this past week in an effort by the club to shore up its rotation.
- Speaking of the Red Sox, Xander Bogaerts had a scare today. The Boston shortstop was hit by a pitch on the hand and collapsed to the ground in pain during tonight’s game, though thankfully exams found the injury to be only a hand contusion (source: Ian Browne, MLB.com). Bogaerts is hitting .275/.340/.512 on the season and already has 16 homers, putting him on pace to set a new career high.
Jennifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martinez is going back on the disabled list, this time due to a right oblique strain. The Cardinals have also recalled John Brebbia, reinstated Miles Mikolas from the paternity list, optioned Matt Bowman, and added Luke Weaver to the roster as the 26th man for today’s doubleheader against the Cubs.
It’s the latest unfortunate twist in what’s rapidly turning into a disappointing season for Martinez, the young ace the Cardinals planned to lean on heavily in hopes of a playoff berth this year. He certainly began the season strong, pitching to a 1.62 ERA across his first 50 innings before straining his right lat muscle and subsequently spending a month on the DL.
Since his return on June 5th, Martinez has looked like an entirely different (read: ineffective) pitcher. He’s put up a bloated 5.32 ERA while barely averaging 5 innings across nine starts. His walk rate has soared to a remarkable 5.12 BB/9, and he hasn’t even managed to strike out a batter an inning- a department Martinez has excelled in when he’s been in top form.
Oblique injuries are no small matter, to be sure. While we don’t yet know the severity of the injury, more serious strains have kept pitchers out for well over a month. It’s not unfair to think that the Cardinals could potentially be out of the race for the NL Central crown by the time he’s healthy; that’s a factor that could ultimately delay or expedite Martinez’ timetable. For now, though we’ll await further news on the grade of his strain rather than speculate about how much time the right-hander might miss.
For the time being, it’s likely that Luke Weaver will take his spot in the rotation, which also includes Jack Flaherty, John Gant and Miles Mikolas. Lefty Austin Gomber could be a candidate to move to the rotation if and when St. Louis needs a fifth starter, though Michael Wacha could be on track to return from his own oblique injury fairly soon.
There is some uncertainty within the trade market for starting pitching, as contenders could wait until closer to the July 31st deadline to make a move for an arm just in case new trade candidates become available, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Some executives and scouts who spoke to Sherman at the Futures Game cited such names as the Cardinals’ Carlos Martinez, and the Angels’ Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Heaney as potential hurlers that could join the market in the next week or two. We’ve already heard of the Yankees’ potential interest in Skaggs and Heaney, and Martinez’s ability and years of control (potentially through 2023 via club options on his five-year, $51MM contract) would make him the most sought-after pitcher available if the Cards did indeed shop him. Dealing a long-term piece like Martinez, however, would be an awfully bold move for a St. Louis club that would seem to still have designs on competing in 2019, and may not have yet thrown in the towel on getting back into this year’s playoff race. The Cardinals are certainly a team to closely monitor to see if a turn-around is possible under their new manager, or, if they are deadline sellers, just how big a selloff could be in the offing.
Here’s some more trade buzz in another piece from Sherman…
- The Yankees are one of the many teams who have checked in with the Padres about Tyson Ross, Brad Hand, and Kirby Yates. New York was already been linked to Hand in rumors, and it makes sense that the team would also inquire about another talented reliever in Yates, who would come at a lower asking price. Ross has posted solid numbers (4.32 ERA, 8.06 K/9, 2.26 K/BB rate over 108 1/3 IP) as he finally looks to be recovered from the shoulder issues and eventual thoracic outlet syndrome surgery that limited him to only 54 1/3 innings in 2016-17. Since Ross is only signed to a minor league deal, his modest salary makes him attractive to all suitors, particularly to a Yankees club that is trying to bolster its rotation without passing the luxury tax threshold.
- Reports from earlier today listed the Giants and Phillies as two of the teams interested in Mets closer Jeurys Familia, and Sherman adds the Red Sox to that list. Boston is known to be looking for a significant bullpen addition, so it isn’t any surprise that the Sox have checked in on Familia as they explore the relief market. As Sherman notes, the Red Sox and Mets combined on a notable bullpen trade at last year’s deadline when Addison Reed was sent to Boston.
- With the Twins open to talking about pretty much any veteran on their roster, Sherman adds Kyle Gibson to the list of potential trade chips. Gibson, the 22nd overall pick in the 2009 draft, seemingly enjoyed a breakout season in 2015 before scuffling the next two years, though he has rebounded for what looks like the best season of his six-year career. The right-hander has a 3.42 ERA, 8.9 K/9, 46.5% grounder rate, and 2.48 K/BB rate through 115 2/3 IP this season. Gibson could garner one of the largest returns of any Twins player in a deal, as he is controlled through the 2019 season via his final year of arbitration.
Additionally, the Cards have selected the contract of righty Preston Guilmet, who had been pitching at Triple-A on a minor-league deal. To clear roster space the club designated catcher Steven Baron. Opening up active roster space meant optioning catcher Carson Kelly and righty Mike Mayers while shifting infielder Greg Garcia to the paternity list.
Though they have played well, the Cards sit in third place in a highly competitive NL Central division. They’ll gladly welcome two of their best players back into the fold.
Of added interest here is Guilmet, who had an opt-out chance on June 1st. Perhaps he and the team worked out a delay to allow these other roster situations to ripen. In any event, the 30-year-old is back in the big leagues for the first time since 2015.
Guilmet, who pitched last year, has been an absolute force thus far in 2018 at Triple-A. He has permitted just three earned runs on a paltry nine hits over 29 innings through 21 appearances. Along the way, he has issued only five walks while ringing up 35 opposing hitters on strikes.
The Cardinals, 31-25 and firmly in the National League playoff hunt, are set to get back a couple of key reinforcements. Top starter Carlos Martinez and catcher Yadier Molina are on track to come off the disabled list Tuesday, per Joe Trezza of MLB.com.
Martinez went on the DL on May 10 with a strained right lat, before which the 26-year-old opened the season with 50 innings of 1.62 ERA/3.36 FIP pitching. Thanks in part to the flamethrowing Martinez’s efforts, the Cardinals’ rotation owns the majors’ third-best ERA (3.01) and seventh-highest fWAR (5.7).
Martinez will rejoin an impressive group that has also received notable contributions from Miles Mikolas, Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver and Jack Flaherty, though it did lose high-ceiling 23-year-old Alex Reyes again earlier this week. Reyes returned from February 2017 Tommy John surgery this past Wednesday for a start against the NL Central rival Brewers, who lead the Cards by 4.5 games, but he lasted just four innings and subsequently went back on the DL with a “significant” lat strain.
Molina, meantime, has been out since May 6 – shortly after he underwent surgery for what St. Louis called a “pelvic injury with traumatic hematoma.” He suffered the injury behind the plate after taking a 100 mph-plus foul tip off the bat of the Cubs’ Kris Bryant. Molina, 35, had gotten off to a fine start to the season, slashing .272/.292/.456 with six home runs in 120 plate appearances and grading as one of the majors’ best pitch framers, per Baseball Prospectus.
Fill-in catchers Francisco Pena, Carson Kelly and Steven Baron haven’t been nearly as effective as Molina offensively, and all four Cardinals backstops have failed to throw out a single base stealer this season. Runners have gone a combined 20 for 20 against the Redbirds, though Molina figures to change that in the near future. Although the potential Hall of Famer yielded seven steals on as many attempts before his injury, he has thrown out a tremendous 41 percent of would-be base thieves during his career.
Alex Reyes’ rehab stint as he makes his way back from Tommy John surgery has been the stuff of legend. The vaunted prospect has fired 23 scoreless innings with a ridiculous 44-to-7 K/BB ratio in that time and, in what is almost certain to be his final rehab appearance, punched out nine consecutive hitters last night.
It’s already known that the Cardinals, who initially were mulling a bullpen role for Reyes upon his return, plan to use him in the rotation. President of baseball ops John Mozeliak reinforced that idea following last night’s start, writes Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, saying Reyes is “likely” to be in the rotation and, more interestingly, indicating that he won’t be restricted in terms of innings. With a late-May start to Reyes’ workload, Mozeliak tells Hummel, “I don’t think he will have a cap.”
That’s not to say, of course, that the Cardinals won’t exercise caution with regard to Reyes’ workload. Logic would dictate that he could be eased back into the rotation in terms of pitch count early on, and with as many as six other rotation options at their disposal, the Cardinals can afford to get Reyes an extra day of rest here or there depending on how his body responds after not throwing a single regular-season pitch last year due to Tommy John surgery.
[Related: St. Louis Cardinals depth chart]
Reyes will step back into a rotation mix also featuring Miles Mikolas, Luke Weaver, Michael Wacha, fellow prospect Jack Flaherty and swingman John Gant, with ace Carlos Martinez also on the mend from a strained lat muscle. (Hummel notes that Martinez’s return from the DL could follow Reyes’ own activation in relatively short order). It’s not entirely clear how the Cards plan to divide up the workload, though pitching coach Mike Maddux rightly noted that any club would welcome the opportunity to have to gameplan for that sort of “problem.” Maddux also points out that the depth will be of particular use following the All-Star break, as the Cards open the second half with six games in a span of five days.
The exact date of Reyes’ highly anticipated return hasn’t been set, though it seems likely to come at some point early next week in a key series against the division-leading Brewers. While that return won’t mark the MLB debut for Reyes, who pitched 46 innings for the Cardinals in 2016, it’ll mark the latest in a recent series of promotions for the game’s next young wave of stars. Shohei Ohtani, Ronald Acuna, Gleyber Torres and Juan Soto (among others) have all debuted to considerable fanfare this season and provided several memorable moments. Reyes looks likely to be the next to step into that spotlight as yet another impressive young talent who’ll be expected to play a key role on a contending club.