- According to a tweet from Mandy Bell of MLB.com, the Indians have placed pitcher AJ Cole on the 10-day injured list, with a recall of pitcher Hunter Wood as a consequent move (link). Cole, a 27-year-old righthander, has been generally effective out of the Cleveland pen this year. His 10.38 K/9 rate over 26 innings has helped catalyze a solid 3.81 ERA rate, although his strikeout-geared repertoire could go a long way toward explaining the shoulder impingement that has now landed him in injury trouble. On the year, Cole has thrown a slider on 45.9% of his offerings, far, far above the usual 15% usage rate generally seen among pitchers utilizing that breaking ball in their repertoire.
Two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber set out on a minor league rehab assignment Thursday, tossing three innings for the Indians’ Triple-A affiliate in Columbus.
Kluber made 41 pitches across three innings, allowing a pair of runs on two hits — both solo homers — and a walk with two strikeouts. That line isn’t exactly pretty, but the organization’s focus for Kluber is surely more on the process and how Kluber will feel in the coming days than it is on the bottom-line results. Kluber hasn’t pitched since May 1, when he sustained a fractured forearm upon being struck by a comeback line drive.
Of course, Kluber’s results soon will be the focus, and the version of him that returns from the injured list will have a seismic impact on Cleveland’s postseason chances. If the Indians are greeted by the Cy Young-winning ace that Kluber has been for much of his career — or anything close to it — they’ll pose an even more formidable threat to the Twins and their dwindling division lead. But Kluber opened the season in a disastrous slump, pitching to a 5.80 ERA and battling control issues the likes of which we’ve never seen from him. In just 35 2/3 innings of work, Kluber walked 15 batters (3.8 BB/9) and hit another three. For a pitcher who only walked 34 batters and hit three in 215 innings last season, that was obviously an unsettling start to the year.
There’s little reason to believe Kluber won’t return to form, but he’ll need to sharpen his command quickly with Cleveland in a tight race for the American League Central crown. The Indians’ pitching staff has been rocked by injuries this season, but the team has remained competitive thanks to a breakout from Shane Bieber and solid contributions from lesser known arms like Zach Plesac. A healthy and effective Kluber will be all the more important now that Trevor Bauer is pitching in Cincinnati following a three-team deadline blockbuster. If Kluber can indeed bounce back, he’ll join Bieber and Mike Clevinger in comprising one of the more imposing rotation trios in the game.
- Indians outfielder Jordan Luplow is headed to the 10-day IL due to a hamstring strain, the team announced. Speedster Greg Allen is back up from Triple-A in a corresponding move. Acquired in an offseason trade with the Pirates, Luplow has proven to be an outstanding platoon outfielder in Cleveland. While he’s only mustered a .230/.269/.322 line against right-handers, he’s laid waste to left-handed opponents with a .305/.407/.667 slash. Luplow has blasted 10 homers and eight doubles in just 105 plate appearances while holding the platoon advantage. The timing of the injury isn’t great for Cleveland, as the Indians are slated to face four lefty starters in the next eight days.
In the immediate aftermath of the trade deadline, a handful of clubs cleared 40-man roster space with a series of designations. Many of those players have since cleared waivers, and we’ll round up those minor moves here…
- The Royals announced that southpaw Brian Flynn was outrighted to Triple-A after clearing waivers. Flynn has a 5.22 ERA over 29 1/3 innings for K.C. this season, a disappointing result for a reliever who posted solid numbers out of the Royals’ bullpen in both 2016 and 2018.
- Cubs minor-league right-hander Oscar de la Cruz has cleared waivers. The 24 year-old has seen his once-lofty prospect status deteriorate due to a combination of injuries, command woes, and a suspension for a masking agent. He’ll remain with the club’s AA affiliate in the Southern League.
- Nationals right-handers Javy Guerra and Michael Blazek each cleared waivers and were outrighted to Triple-A Fresno. Because each veteran has previously been outrighted, they may elect free agency, but the shaky Washington bullpen could plausibly offer them the best opportunity to return to the big leagues in short order.
- Giants right-handed reliever Dan Winkler was outrighted. San Francisco acquired him as a salary offset in the Mark Melancon trade but never had any interest in letting him see the field amidst a disappointing 2019 season. Winkler can elect free agency because he has over three years of MLB service.
- Rockies left-handed relief arm Harrison Musgrave will remain on hand at Triple-A Albuquerque after clearing. The 27 year-old has had little success in 45 MLB games in Colorado over the past two seasons.
- Diamondbacks right-hander Joey Krehbiel will remain on-hand at Triple-A Reno. Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel named the 26 year-old reliever a prospect to watch thanks to a plus changeup preseason, but he’s had a nightmarish season in the Pacific Coast League.
- Veteran catcher Tim Federowicz has cleared. The backstop had been playing for the Rangers, but he may elect to catch on elsewhere on a minor-league deal.
- Phillies corner infielder Mitch Walding has also cleared waivers. He’ll remain in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he’s struggled to make contact in 2019.
- Eric Stamets, the Indians’ Opening Day shortstop, has cleared as well. The 27 year-old has put up anemic offensive numbers with Triple-A Columbus, where he’ll continue to try to right the ship, over the past two seasons.
Today: Fortunately, Salazar’s groin strain is “mild,” tweets Zack Meisel of the Athletic. Nevertheless, there is no current timetable for his return, Meisel adds.
Friday: The Indians have placed righty Danny Salazar and southpaw Tyler Olson on the 10-day injured list, per a club announcement. The former is dealing with a right groin strain and the latter a “non-baseball medical condition.”
It’s massively disappointing to see Salazar head right back to the IL after just one outing. The 29-year-old had last pitched in 2017, with major arm issues keeping him off the mound in the interim.
Unfortunately, Salazar’s return was less than promising even before the groin problem was revealed. He barely topped 88 mph with his fastball, a stunning loss of velocity for a pitcher who always sat in the mid-nineties.
It’s not yet known how long Salazar might be sidelined, or what his path back might look like. Similarly, there’s no indication whatsoever what kind of absence the club is anticipating from Olson. The southpaw carries a 4.40 ERA in 30 2/3 innings, but has continued to be tough on lefties, who’ve managed only a .245/.333/.367 line against him this season.
Indians fans will be relieved to hear that Corey Kluber was back to throwing darts at Progressive Field again on Saturday–even if Kluber’s teammates weren’t set to take the field for several hours. Before Cleveland’s game with the Angels today, the decorated hurler threw roughly 35 pitches in a simulated game setting, according to a report from Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. While facing three batters from the organization’s Double-A Akron affiliate, Kluber was able to get his fastball up to 89 mph, which manager Terry Francona saw as encouraging progress. “I was kinda surprised [Kluber] was actually at that point, just because [of] the lack of what he’s been doing for three months,” Francona told reporters. Kluber has been sidelined since May 1st with a non-displaced fracture to his arm’s ulna bone–an injury he suffered when struck by a comebacker off the bat of Miami’s Brian Anderson. After the Progressive session, Francona said Kluber would start his rehab assignment in the minors on Thursday.
Right-hander Neil Ramirez and outfielder Trayce Thompson have been granted their release from the Indians organization, per an announcement from the team’s Triple-A affiliate. Both former big leaguers are free agents and can now sign with another club.
Ramirez, 30, was with the Indians earlier this season but struggled to a 5.40 ERA and allowed five home runs in 16 2/3 innings. Ramirez notched an 18-to-9 K/BB ratio in that time and has a lengthy history of missing bats, but he’s struggled to throw strikes and command the ball within the zone throughout his career. In 171 1/3 innings as a Major Leaguer, he’s logged a 4.41 ERA with 10.8 K/9, 4.7 BB/9, 1.63 HR/9 and a 30.1 percent ground-ball rate.
Thompson, the younger brother of NBA star Klay Thompson, played 51 big league games between the White Sox and the A’s in 2018. The No. 61 overall pick by the White Sox in the 2009 draft, the now-28-year-old Thompson was a fairly well-regarded minor league talent but hasn’t found sustained success. He’s batted .206/.276/.389 in 589 MLB plate appearances and was hitting .219/.294/.482 with 24 homers, 10 doubles, three triples and eight steals in 89 Triple-A games this season. Strikeouts have increasingly become an issue for Thompson, as evidenced by this year’s 36.1 percent rate in Columbus.
The Twins have acquired outfielder Brandon Barnes from the Indians, per an announcement from the Indians’ Triple-A affiliate in Columbus. While the move will surely generate some confusion because it comes after the July 31 trade deadline, Barnes was still tradeable by virtue of the fact that he’s on a minor league deal and at no point had been on a 40-man roster this season. (We took a look at how these and other minor moves could still occur yesterday here at MLBTR.)
Cleveland didn’t specify a return, though it’s quite likely that the veteran Barnes was merely flipped to Minnesota for cash. The Twins have been looking for outfield depth in the minors — they signed Ramon Flores out of indie ball two days ago — and the Indians, conversely, have come into some newfound outfield depth. The trade of Trevor Bauer netted them both Franmil Reyes and Yasiel Puig, thus pushing Greg Allen and Jake Bauers to Triple-A Columbus and squeezing Barnes out of his everyday job there.
Barnes, 33, has posted a .271/.336/.529 batting line with 24 home runs, 25 doubles and nine steals in 420 plate appearances with Cleveland’s top affiliate in Columbus this season. He’s spent parts of six seasons at the Major League level, most recently appearing in 19 games with Cleveland just last season. Barnes is capable of playing all three outfield spots but carries an underwhelming .242/.290/.357 batting line through 1274 big league plate appearances. He’ll give the Twins some depth in Triple-A Rochester.
Oft-injured Indians right-hander Danny Salazar took a major league mound for the first time since 2017 on Thursday, but it wasn’t a triumphant return. Salazar lasted just four innings, in which he allowed two earned runs on four hits and three walks (with two strikeouts), in a 7-1 loss to Houston. It turns out Salazar was attempting to pitch through a groin issue, Joe Noga of cleveland.com was among those to cover. Salazar, who had been out with shoulder troubles, threw mostly changeups during his 66-pitch comeback and never exceeded 88.3 mph on the radar gun. That’s an enormous drop for a hurler who often overpowered hitters with 95 mph average fastball velocity from 2013-17. Salazar expressed confidence after the game that he’ll be fine, but the Indians will re-evaluate him Friday. It’s a situation that bears watching with the wild card-leading Indians’ rotation now much shallower in the wake of this week’s Trevor Bauer trade.
Tuesday’s enormous brawl between the Pirates and the Reds has, unsurprisingly, led to multiple suspensions on both teams. Major League Baseball announced a total of 32 games’ worth of suspensions for six players, as well as a six-game suspension for Reds manager David Bell and a two-game ban for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. All six players will appeal their penalties, while Bell and Hurdle will begin serving their bans immediately.
Here is the full list of suspensions issued…
- Pirates’ Keone Kela, 10 games
- Reds’ Amir Garrett, eight games
- Pirates’ Jose Osuna, five games
- Reds’ Jared Hughes, three games
- Pirates’ Kyle Crick, three games
- Indians’ Yasiel Puig (then a member of the Reds), three games
Fines were also issued to all six players. Joey Votto, Philip Ervin, and Trevor Williams also received fines, as did players on both teams who participated in the fracas despite being on the injured list.
Beyond just the brawl that began when Garrett rushed from the mound to go after the Pirates’ dugout, the suspensions cover a wide range of incidents during the game. Kela received the harshest punishment both “for his role in instigating the bench-clearing incident,” as per the league’s official release, and for throwing at Derek Dietrich’s head in the seventh inning.
There has been no love lost between the Pirates and Reds this season, as reflected in Hurdle’s suspension. The Pittsburgh skipper was cited for not only “his Club’s conduct during the incident,” but also for “multiple intentional pitches thrown at Dietrich this season.” Hurdle still received less punishment than Bell, whose six-game suspension was “for returning to the field following his ejection; escalating the incident with his aggressive actions; his Club’s intentional pitch at [Starling] Marte; and his numerous ejections this season.”