- Rockies southpaw Tyler Anderson was forced to leave during the third inning of today’s start due to an apparent injury to his left knee, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding was among those to report. This was Anderson’s first start back since hitting the DL in late May due to inflammation in that same knee, though he made a one-inning relief appearance earlier last week. Advanced metrics indicate that Anderson has pitched better than his 6.11 ERA would indicate, as he has been plagued by home runs (a whopping 25% homer rate) and bad BABIP luck (.337) over his 63 1/3 IP this season.
- Right-hander Jon Gray will make his long-awaited return to the Rockies’ rotation during their series against Arizona next weekend, per Nick Groke of the Denver Post (Twitter links). Gray entered the season as the de facto ace of Colorado’s staff, but he has been out since mid-April with a stress fracture in his left foot. Still, the Rockies have stormed out of the gates at 47-30, and Gray’s return should only help the team’s already high playoff odds. The Rox will deploy a five-man rotation when Gray comes back, meaning someone will have to exit the group, observes Groke.
- A Tyler Chatwood trade “would be difficult for the [Rockies] to make,” a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking tells Rosenthal. If anything, Colorado will be looking to add pitching rather than move a solid rotation arm. Chatwood has a 4.08 ERA, 7.4 K/9 and a very strong 57.6% ground ball rate over 90 1/3 IP this season. He is a free agent this winter and he has a strong track record (career 3.10 road ERA) away from Coors Field, plus he may not be a prime candidate for a long-term deal given that Chatwood has twice undergone Tommy John surgery. Despite those factors, Chatwood probably has more value to the Rockies as a player than as a potential trade chip as the team battles in the competitive NL West.
- The Rockies announced the signing of second-rounder Ryan Vilade, and Callis tweets that he’ll sign for the No. 48 pick’s slot value of $1,425,400. A high school shortstop out of Oklahoma, Vilade was committed to Oklahoma State but will instead embark on his pro career. He draws the most praise for his raw power and big arm strength, though a move to third base may be in order.
- Nick Groke of the Denver Post fielded some Rockies trade questions in his latest chat with readers, noting that there’s virtually no chance that the Rockies would even consider moving top shortstop prospect Brendan Rodgers this summer. Groke does, however, feel that outfielder Raimel Tapia is a plausible trade chip. The 23-year-old outfielder entered the season widely ranked among baseball’s top 100 prospects and is hitting .286/.375/.357 through a small sample of 32 plate appearances in a limited role.
Rockies righty Jon Gray made his first rehab start, as Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports. He may need only one or two more minor league outings before rejoining the Colorado rotation, but holds out the promise of providing a significant boost upon his return. Likewise, southpaw Tyler Anderson is making his way back toward the big leagues, meaning the Rox will face some rotation questions in short order.
Here’s more on a few other pitching health matters from around the league:
- It’s possible that the Red Sox may soon welcome back lefty Eduardo Rodriguez. per an update from manager John Farrell (h/t Peter Abraham of the Boston Glove; links to Twitter). Rodriguez was “ecstatic” after a 33-pitch pen session today, says Farrell, who indicated that the southpaw may be only one rehab start away from returning to the majors. That would surely be excellent news for Boston; Rodriguez’s knee issue seemed rather frightening when it arose, since he has dealt with significant problems in the joint in the past.
- Likewise, the Dodgers got good news on young southpaw Julio Urias, as Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports (Twitter links). While he’ll still be shut down until the soreness in his shoulder subsides, Urias did not exhibit any structural issues in an MRI.
- With the Giants back in Colorado, the team is seeing continued progress from ace Madison Bumgarner, who is still recovering from the shoulder injury he suffered in an off-day dirtbiking accident during the team’s prior trip out to Denver. As John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets, Bumgarner is set to face live hitting on Sunday and report to the organization’s spring facility. After that, he’d only be a rehab assignment away from a return, though the club will undoubtedly exercise ample caution given the club’s unenviable position in the standings.
- As the Twins continue to hold onto a surprising AL Central lead, despite one of the league’s worst bullpens, the front office is surely at least thinking of ways to bolster the MLB roster while also remaining mindful of the broader organizational mission. Unfortunately, the club seemingly won’t be able to call upon relief prospect J.T. Chargois, per Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN, who tweets that a “stress reaction on the outside of his elbow” will keep the young righty out for some time. The fireballer already missed significant time earlier in his career with elbow problems. Minnesota already lost out on another possible mid-season boost to the bullpen when Nick Burdi required Tommy John surgery earlier this year.
Murphy, 26, was expected to play a significant role behind the dish for the Rockies after a promising 21-game stint in 2016. But he was sidelined in camp with a fractured forearm and has yet to appear at the major league level in the current season.
Colorado will hope for a boost on offense by swapping in Murphy. He has been a steady producer at the plate as a professional, including his rehab time in 2017. Through 31 plate appearances at Triple-A, Murphy owns a .414/.419/.724 slash — though he has also gone down on strikes nine times.
As for Hanigan, his consent was required for the move given his lengthy service time. Playing a supporting role to Tony Wolters, the 36-year-old has produced a .256/.304/.395 slash in his 46 trips to the plate on the year. He’ll wait in Triple-A to see if a need arises.
The Nationals’ terrible results from the bullpen have been frustrating fans all season, and it’s begun to take a toll on the clubhouse as well, per Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post. Svrluga quotes unnamed Nationals players that are exasperated by the persistently blown leads, quoting one who states, “We feel like we have to win the game three times.” As has been reported on multiple occasions in the past, Svrluga writes that Nationals ownership vetoed a trade that would have netted the Nats David Robertson from the White Sox this offseason. However, Svrluga now reports that GM Mike Rizzo also had an agreement in place with current Rockies closer Greg Holland, only for the Lerner family to once again step in and nix that deal. (FanRag’s Jon Heyman previously reported that ownership balked at the concept of a vesting player option for Holland, though Svrluga is seemingly the first mention of an actual agreement that fell through.) The bullpen will assuredly be Rizzo’s prime target in trades this summer, though reports suggest that he certainly tried to be proactive in addressing the matter this winter but wasn’t granted the freedom to do so.
The Pirates received an incredibly encouraging start yesterday from young righty Jameson Taillon, who returned from the DL after being treated for testicular cancer. As Stephen Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes, that outing coincidentally came against the Rockies, meaning that Chad Bettis — who has also battled the same affliction — was on hand. Of course, the road back has not been quite as straightforward thus far for Bettis, who needed chemotherapy, though he has now progressed to participating in long toss. The two right-handed hurlers have communicated often this year, Nesbitt writes in an interesting piece.
Here’s more on some health situations from around the game:
- Orioles slugger Chris Davis left last night’s contest with what the team is calling a right oblique strain. He is undergoing an MRI this morning, as Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun tweets. Skipper Buck Showalter expressed a generally pessimistic view of Davis’s outlook after the game. Indeed, it’s likely that Davis will head to the DL, according to Jon Morosi of MLB.com (via Twitter), though there’s still nothing official. It’s tough news for a fading O’s team.
- Also failing to make it through yesterday’s game was Mets star Yoenis Cespedes, who only just returned from a DL stint for leg muscle issues. It turns out, though, that he was dealing with pain in his left heel, as Laura Albanese of Newsday tweets. The heel is actually a long-term issue, rather than a new injury, and it seems there’s hope that it won’t limit Cespedes too significantly. That’ll surely be the team’s hope, as it attempts to climb back from a dreadful start to the season.
- Astros outfielder Josh Reddick was diagnosed with a “mild concussion” after running into the outfield wall, as Mark Berman of FOX 26 was among those to tweet. His outlook isn’t yet known, and surely depends upon further medical evaluation today. Reddick has provided Houston with a quality .281/.338/.443 batting line though 238 plate appearances, helping the organization to the best record in baseball and a dozen-game lead in the AL West.
The Rockies’ signing of Greg Holland — who has a 1.14 ERA, 12.2 K/9, 4.2 BB/9 and 23 saves in 23 2/3 innings thus far after missing the entire 2016 season to injury — was the best free agent move of the offseason, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes. With all the uncertainty surrounding Holland’s return to the mound, Olney writes, the Rockies focused on learning about Holland’s character. Rockies bullpen coach Darren Holmes, who, like Holland, has an offseason home in Asheville, North Carolina, was a key to the team’s attempt to find out about Holland. “I know he’s got the trust of everybody — and he’s got the trust in spades,” says Rockies GM Jeff Bridich of Holland. “This is a man who is hell-bent on getting back to where he was before he was hurt.” Joining the Rockies on the list of teams who made the best offseason signings are the Pirates, Rays, Red Sox, Cubs and others. Here’s more from out of Colorado.
- Manager Bud Black has been a key to the Rockies’ surprisingly strong season, writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. The best quote in the piece, though, comes from Nolan Arenado, who explains why Holland has been such a breath of fresh air for the Rockies. “He seems in so much control,” says Arenado. “Closers here since I’ve been here, they’ve haven’t been very, uh, you know, you’ve been kind of nervous when they come in. When he comes in the game, it feels really good.”
- The Rockies’ pitching staff is having success this year with the help of an inexperienced catcher, Tony Wolters, Nick Groke of the Denver Post writes. Earlier this week, former Dodgers scouting director Logan White told MLBTR contributor Chuck Wasserstrom about his team’s decision to draft an infielder named Russell Martin and convert him to catcher. Wolters began his pro career as a shortstop and second baseman, then underwent a similar conversion that began in the Indians organization in 2013. He’s now winning praise for his work behind the plate, just as Martin ultimately did. “Kevin Cash was living with me that spring,” says Indians manager Terry Francona. (Cash, now the Rays’ manager, was then the Indians’ bullpen coach.) “We’d go home at night and if there wasn’t a college basketball game on, then we’d talk about baseball. And we were going back and forth. And I said, ’Man, he looks like he can do this.'”