- The Dodgers scratched third baseman Justin Turner from their game against the Athletics on Tuesday because of left hamstring discomfort, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com tweets. The Dodgers said the move was precautionary, but it’s worth noting that Turner missed a couple weeks earlier this month with a left hamstring strain. So, this latest issue could be a concern for the Dodgers as they approach the playoffs.
- Walker Buehler threw a 90-pitch simulated game yesterday and is slated to be activated off the 10-day IL for a Thursday start. (MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick was among those to report the news.) Buehler has made two trips to the injured list due to blister problems, resulting in just seven innings pitched since August 21. Thursday’s start against the Athletics will therefore serve as an opportunity for Buehler to warm up prior to the Dodgers’ postseason run. Buehler is still expected to be a big factor for Los Angeles during the playoffs, though he hasn’t quite matched his 2019 form in this shortened season. Thanks in large part to a 1.9 HR/9, Buehler has a 3.86 ERA over 32 2/3 innings in 2020, though with a 3.60 K/BB rate, 9.9 K/9, and generally above-average Statcast numbers.
Dodgers left-handed reliever Caleb Ferguson will undergo Tommy John surgery, manager Dave Roberts told Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register and other reporters Thursday. Roberts said the procedure’s “imminent” for Ferguson, who previously underwent TJS in high school.
The Dodgers sent Ferguson to the injured list on Wednesday with UCL damage, and it seemed they feared the worst then, so it’s no surprise they’ll lose him for the remainder of the season. It’s a costly blow for the World Series-contending Dodgers’ superb bullpen, which saw Ferguson amass 18 1/3 innings of 2.89 ERA/3.56 FIP pitching with 13.02 K/9 and 1.45 BB/9 this year.
Fortunately for Los Angeles, it seems to have enough quality arms in its relief corps to make do without Ferguson. But the team will also have to do the same next year, as Tommy John surgery typically requires a 12- to 18-month recovery. That means Ferguson, now 24 years old, probably won’t take a major league mound again until 2022.
6:59pm: Ferguson suffered “a pretty good tear,” per Roberts (via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com). The Dodgers are preparing to go without Ferguson for the postseason.
4:38pm: Ferguson’s season appears to be over. Manager Dave Roberts told Sportsnet LA that Ferguson has UCL damage, Pedro Moura of The Athletic tweets. There’s no decision yet on whether Ferguson will undergo Tommy John surgery, but he has already had the procedure once in the past.
This is a tough loss for the Dodgers’ bullpen, though it’s unclear whether Ferguson will be OK by the time the playoffs start in a couple weeks. Their relief corps has been among the best in the majors, ranking second in ERA and FIP, thanks in part to Ferguson. The 24-year-old has thrown 18 2/3 innings of 2.89 ERA/3.58 FIP ball with 13.02 K/9, 1.45 BB/9 and a 54.5 percent groundball rate this season, all while averaging over 95 mph on his fastball and handling right-handed hitters (.287 weighted on-base average) and lefties (.278) alike.
Even without Ferguson, the Dodgers still boast plenty of capable arms in their bullpen, including Blake Treinen, Kenley Jansen, Victor Gonzalez, Dylan Floro, Jake McGee and Adam Kolarek. And the Dodgers are officially getting back Joe Kelly, whom they reinstated from the injured list Sept. 10 after he missed a month with right shoulder inflammation. Kelly was initially ineligible to pitch after he returned, though, as he had to serve a five-game suspension that’s now up.
Turner was enjoying another productive season when he was placed on the IL (retroactively) on August 29 with a left hamstring strain. Turner has a .282/.384/.410 slash line and two home runs over 138 plate appearances, and while his slugging percentage is down from its usual standard, Statcast metrics indicate Turner is in the 92nd percentile in XSLG and is making as much hard contact as ever.
Looking bigger-picture, some good numbers over the season’s last two weeks would also help bolster Turner’s case going into free agency. Turner turns 36 in November and thus isn’t a candidate for a truly long-term contract, though there isn’t much evidence he is slowing down. Despite the Dodgers’ crowded infield situation, one would think that L.A. would still be interested in another new contract with Turner given the team’s obvious regard for his ability and their love of roster depth.
With Turner back, the Dodgers now have their full complement of position players healthy as they head towards another postseason berth. Turner is expected to resume his regular spot at third base, though it wouldn’t be a surprise if Los Angeles gives him a few extra DH days to ease him back into action.
Dustin May left his start on Thursday after just one inning, but the Dodgers received good news today. There’s no fracture in May’s foot, as was feared, but a contusion still garners a day-to-day status and an eventual IL stint is not out of the question, per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register (via Twitter). There may be some smoke and mirrors behind May’s 2.81 ERA, as a 4.51 FIP suggests the underlying work hasn’t been as strong as the ERA. At a surface level, May’s strikeouts have been down to 6.0 K/9 while a 2.2 BB/9 mark represents a slight year-over-year increase. Let’s get another couple injury updates from around the game…
This is the second blister-related IL placement in recent weeks for Buehler, whom they first placed on the shelf Aug. 27. The right-hander made a quick return with five shutout innings in a win over the Diamondbacks on Sept. 2, but Buehler gave up five runs (two earned) to the D-backs in 2 2/3 frames on Tuesday. The Dodgers still managed to win that game, though, and at 32-12, they look like shoo-ins to capture the National League’s top seed as the playoffs approach.
Considering where the Dodgers are in the standings, it makes sense for the team to be cautious with Buehler – a key part of a rotation that has been among the league’s best in 2020. While Buehler hasn’t revisited his 2018-19 form, he, Clayton Kershaw, Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May and Julio Urias have still made up a formidable group.
As for Kelly, he’s back after going to the IL on Aug. 10 with right shoulder inflammation. Kelly won’t be available to pitch immediately, though, as he’ll first have to serve a five-game suspension stemming from a dustup with the Astros on July 28.
Padres outfielder Tommy Pham is less than a month out from a broken hamate bone, but he’s making rapid progress. Pham resumed live on-field batting practice today, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports on Twitter. The 32-year-old had been off to a sluggish start to the year but will still have some time to make his presence felt as the Pads try to angle for postseason position.
More injury updates from the National League …
- The Giants are preparing to welcome back southpaw Drew Smyly tomorrow, manager Gabe Kapler tells reporters including John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). It’ll be interesting to see what the veteran hurler can deliver down the stretch. Though he hasn’t been available for many innings, he turned in a few interesting outings that hinted at a resurgence.
- While there’s little reason to rush, the Dodgers are close to activating rehabbing third baseman Justin Turner. Manager Dave Roberts told reporters including Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register (Twitter link) that Turner still hasn’t put his tender hamstring through the full paces. Nevertheless, the club expects to have him active within the week, though Turner could initially function as a DH.
- The Pirates provided a few pitching rehab updates, some more promising than others (via MLB.com’s Adam Berry, on Twitter). Mitch Keller (side injury) and Jameson Taillon (Tommy John) are each throwing sim games, while reliever Keone Kela is now participating in mound work. It’s still unclear how much MLB action each of those hurlers will be capable of late this year, but that’s generally encouraging news. The situation is different for fellow righty Yacksel Rios, who remains sidelined by shoulder woes. He was shut down after symptoms flared up.
Despite vast interest from around the majors, the Rangers decided to retain right-hander Lance Lynn through at least the rest of the season. The Braves were among the teams in on Lynn, but the Rangers understandably placed a high asking price on the AL Cy Young contender and his year-plus of affordable control. Texas wanted either Cristian Pache or Drew Waters from Atlanta as the headliner in a package for Lynn, according to David O’Brien of The Athletic, though the Braves clearly were unwilling to part with either of the highly touted outfield prospects.
Both Pache and Waters are 21-year-old outfielders who rank among the game’s top 50 prospects, and it stands to reason that the Rangers would’ve pushed for additional pieces to be added. Had either Pache or Waters changed hands in a deal with Texas or another club, they’d have been the highest-ranked prospect dealt in a deadline season that was punctuated more by players to be named later and mid-tier prospects.
The Braves and the Dodgers were known to be in on Lynn, with L.A. reportedly making a late push but ultimately failing to close a deal. Specific names that were discussed haven’t come to light, but Rangers president of baseball operations Jon Daniels made clear that sufficient value wasn’t presented.
“I would not have been proud of some of those deals if we made them,” Daniels told reporters following the deadline (link via Sam Blum of the Dallas Morning News). “I don’t think our fans would have been happy about it, either.”
All of the top baseball operations execs involved in Lynn discussions has made similar statements in the hours and days since the deadline passed. Via Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register, Dodgers president of baseball ops Andrew Friedman acknowledged his efforts to add an “impactful” starter who could’ve lined up behind Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw in the postseason rotation. Lynn fits that description following his past season-plus with the Rangers, but Friedman characterized those as talks that never “got all that close.”
Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos, meanwhile said in a recent radio appearance on 92.9 The Game that his club set a threshold they weren’t willing to cross — much as they do with regard to free-agent negotiations. “The moves that we could’ve made, for us, would not have been good deals,” Anthopoulos said. “…It just came down to — and it’s no knock on anybody — we made the decision that the price for us, we didn’t think that made sense.”
Daniels and the Rangers will have another opportunity to shop Lynn this winter, and while they’re now only marketing one season of Lynn (and one postseason push involving him), interest should still be high as long as Lynn remains healthy. If the 2021 season sees a return to a standard 10-team postseason field, clubs may be more motivated to add impact pieces like Lynn, knowing that multiple postseason spots in each league have been eliminated. That doesn’t guarantee a huge return for the Rangers, of course, but a full season of a high-end starter on a below-market contract ($8MM in 2021) and the right to make him a qualifying offer after the season should still be able to fetch a respectable haul.
The Dodgers announced that they’ve placed third baseman Justin Turner on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Aug. 29, with a left hamstring strain. They activated infielder Edwin Rios and left-hander Alex Wood (post) from the IL in other moves.
The Dodgers have gone without Turner since he exited their game against the Rangers last Friday with the injury. Hamstring problems can often lead to lengthy absences, though manager Dave Roberts has said Turner only suffered a “low-grade” strain.
The loaded Dodgers, owners of baseball’s best record, should be able to carry on without Turner for however much time he misses, but they’ll obviously want him healthy when the playoffs roll around. The 35-year-old has enjoyed yet another high-quality season, having slashed .282/.384/.410 with a pair of home runs in 138 plate appearances.
With Turner on the shelf for the past few days, the Dodgers have relied on Max Muncy to man the hot corner. Muncy got off to a rough start this season, but his production has trended in the right direction of late. Rios could also be an option at third, where he has seen action in five games this year. He came out of the gates quickly this year before landing on the IL on Aug. 17 with a left hamstring strain of his own.