- The Phillies activated righty reliever Victor Arano from the DL on Saturday. Arano went down April 30 with a strained right rotator cuff, before which the 23-year-old rookie produced dominant results. Across his first 12 innings of the year, Arano logged a .75 ERA/1.73 FIP with 9.75 K/9 and 2.25 BB/9.
Aaron Boone recently offered some words of encouragement regarding the imminent return of first baseman Greg Bird to the lineup (h/t Marc Carig of The Athletic). But while Bird’s activation appears to be “around the corner”, news surrounding fellow Yankees hitter Jacoby Ellsbury is not as promising. Ellsbury is reportedly dealing with a minor back injury and as such is not participating in baseball activities at this time. The outfielder made just 406 plate appearances last season and has yet to make his 2018 debut. Unfortunately, Ellsbury’s absence is not the end of the bad news for the Yankees this week, as it turns out hard-hitting outfield prospect Estevan Florial will require surgery on a broken hamate bone (according to a tweet from George A. King III of the New York Post). The injury will keep him sidelined until at least August. Florial was off to somewhat of a slow start at the High-A level, posting a .246/.353/.343 slash line across 156 plate appearances.
More out of the East…
- Phillies righty Jerad Eickhoff is set to begin a rehab assignment, according to Matt Breen of the Philly Enquirer. He’ll kick it off at Triple-A LeHigh Valley. Eickhoff has been sidelined since spring training due to a lat strain, and at this time it’s not clear how he’d fit into a suddenly crowded Phillies rotation that includes Aaron Nola, Nick Pivetta, Jake Arrieta, Vince Velasquez and Zach Eflin.
- The Red Sox haven’t gotten any particularly good news about Carson Smith in recent days. According to Alex Speier of the Boston Globe, manager Alex Cora says the club can’t determine at this time whether or not the righty will pitch again this season. Smith was off to a serviceable start this season, posting a 3.77 ERA and 11.30 K/9 in his first 14 1/3 innings before going down with a shoulder subluxation.
- The Blue Jays are describing left-hander Jaime Garcia’s injury as “left shoulder inflammation”. He’s been placed on the DL retroactive to May 16th. The Jays brought Garcia into the fold this past offseason on a one-year deal worth a guarantee of $10MM, but he’s disappointed thus far with a 6.28 ERA across his first 38 2/3 innings. In a related move, the club has recalled righty Deck McGuire from Triple-A Buffalo.
- Former Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro (now the Mets’ first base coach) chatted with current Phillies GM Matt Klentak when the Mets played the Phils at Citizens Bank Park over the weekend, Amaro tells Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. Amaro notes that he already knew Klentak somewhat from Klentak’s days with the Orioles and Angels as well as in the Commissioner’s Office, and the former GM expresses some appreciation for Klentak’s acknowledgment of the trades he made before being dismissed. As Salisbury notes, a significant portion of the Phils’ roster was drafted or acquired under Amaro’s watch near the end of his run. Amaro also caught up with rookie manager Gabe Kapler and discussed Kapler’s rough first week on the job. “I told him, ‘Hey, just like any other place, and maybe more so than others, if you guys keep playing well the fans will really appreciate it and things will turn around,'” says Amaro. The former GM speaks fondly of the city and of Citizens Bank Park, noting that Philadelphia will always feel like a home to him.
- The Phillies announced tonight that they’ve activated right-hander Ben Lively from the 10-day disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The 26-year-old Lively opened the season in Philadelphia’s rotation but struggled to a 6.85 ERA in 23 2/3 innings before landing on the disabled list with a back strain. In his absence, fellow righty Zach Eflin stepped into the rotation and has been outstanding in two starts, yielding a run on seven hits and three walks with 13 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings. He’ll remain in the rotation over Lively for now, and as MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki noted yesterday, a continued hot streak from Eflin could force the Phils to make some tough decisions. GM Matt Klentak has already stated that Jerad Eickhoff will be in the rotation when he returns from the DL later this month, thus pitting Eflin against righties Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta for the final two rotation spots behind Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta. Of course, things can change quickly in the coming weeks, either with a downturn in Eflin’s performance or another injury elsewhere on the roster.
- Righty Pat Neshek will be shut down for the next week, tweets MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. The Phillies setup man has yet to pitch this season due to a shoulder injury, but it seems he’s now dealing with a flexor strain as well. At this point, it’s not clear as to when he’ll be able to go on a rehab assignment and ultimately rejoin the Phils. If and when he’s able to do so, a healthy Neshek would be a significant boon to a Phillies club that has outperformed expectations to date. The sidearmer utterly dominated opponents in 2017, pitching to a 1.59 ERA with 10.0 K/9, 0.9 BB/9, 0.43 HR/9 and a 36.4 percent ground-ball rate in 62 1/3 innings between the Phils and the Rockies.
The Phillies have announced that pitching prospect Seranthony Dominguez is joining the active roster for the first time. To open a spot, the organization placed lefty Adam Morgan on the 10-day DL with a back strain.
Dominguez may not be a top-100 prospect in the game — or even a top-10 organizational prospect in a deep system — but he’s quite an interesting young player. The 23-year-old righty had never pitched above the High-A level entering the current season, due in part to some injuries as well as the fact that the Phils were allowing him to develop as a starter.
Entering the current campaign, though, the club decided to put the rotation work on hold, giving Dominguez a shot to show what he could do in a relief role. It’s still early, of course, but the results have been eye-popping — so much so that the youngster has now blown through both of the highest levels of the minors and onto the MLB roster in the span of about a month.
When healthy, Dominguez shows an upper-nineties heater that’s accompanied by a useful slider and a promising change-up. He has had some challenges with repeating his mechanics and staying in the zone over full starts. But in the bullpen, thus far, Dominguez has been lights-out.
Over 16 2/3 innings in 11 appearances on the year, most of those coming at Double-A, Dominguez carries a 2.08 ERA with an 18:2 K/BB ratio. He has permitted only eight hits, none of which left the yard. And Dominguez has at times generated a healthy number of groundballs, which is another aspect of his game worth watching.
It’ll certainly be interesting to see how the Phils deploy their new weapon. Given his history as a starter and multi-inning usage this year, it’s certainly possible he’ll be allowed to work multiple frames at times. Of course, the club will no doubt first look to allow him to get his feet wet.
It is not clear at this point how long Morgan will be out, but his roster spot might have been in some jeopardy were it not for the injury. The out-of-options former starter is only allowing 2.45 earned runs per nine, but that’s probably not the best measure of the quality of his work, as he has mostly been deployed against lefties and has thrown only 11 innings over 17 appearances.
Morgan is an interesting player in his own right. He has been tough to square up (.274 xwOBA vs. .275 wOBA) and has compiled 10.4 K/9. And he’s sustaining a big velo jump that he showed last year upon moving to the pen. But Morgan’s corresponding boost in swinging strikes has not carried into 2018 (he’s down to 9.6% from 16.5% last year) and he’s doling out far too many free passes (eight to this point).
- The Orioles picked up minor league catcher Wilson Garcia from the Phillies in exchange for cash, also via Eddy. The 24-year-old Garcia is a career .281/.314/.386 hitter in the minors, but he’s yet to move past A-ball. Garcia seemingly throws quite well, given a 40 percent caught-stealing mark in his career to date. Baltimore assigned him to their Class-A Advanced affiliate in Frederick.
- Righty Enyel De Los Santos is making a case to join the Phillies’ rotation sometime this year, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com writes. The Phillies acquired the hard-throwing 22-year-old from the Padres in exchange for shortstop Freddy Galvis over the winter, and De Los Santos has since opened the season in dominant fashion with his new organization. Across 19 1/3 innings (four starts) at the Triple-A level, De Los Santos has pitched to a 1.40 ERA with 11.64 K/9 against 2.79 BB/9. Although De Los Santos isn’t on the Phillies’ 40-man roster, which could work against a promotion, they’ve taken notice of his performance, as director of player development Joe Jordan explains at length in Zolecki’s piece.
In a chat with Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, Phillies hurler Jake Arrieta verified prior reports that Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein made a last-ditch offer before the team agreed to terms with Yu Darvish.
Arrieta, who ultimately signed with the Philadelphia organization later in the winter, tells Wittenmyer that he does not really believe that Epstein expected to get a deal done when he called with a “take it or leave it” proposal of six years and $120MM. That statement reflects previous reporting on the perceptions of both sides to that conversation.
While he emphasized that he harbors no ill will at all toward Epstein or the Cubs organization, Arrieta says that approach was a non-starter, even though he had yet to receive a formal contract offer to that point:
“[T]hey weren’t willing to negotiate at all, and that wasn’t acceptable for me,” Arrieta tells Wittenmyer. “I bet on myself just like I have my entire career and ended up getting a good deal.”
Arrieta, of course, is referring to the three-year, $75MM guarantee he took down from the Phils. He obviously preferred the higher average annual value but also emphasized in his comments that he expects to play longer than that in Philadelphia. Arrieta’s deal includes a provision that allows the Phillies to add on two years at a salary of $20MM or more (depending upon escalators) per season.
The veteran hurler certainly exuded confidence in his chat with Wittenmyer, which is well worth a full read. Among other things, he discussed his leadership efforts with the Phillies and flatly rejected the idea that there’s any concern with how he’ll age — or how his velocity will hold up — over the course of his new contract. To the contrary, Arrieta suggests his new organization will receive an exceptional player. “There’s not many like me,” he tells Wittenmyer. “… I don’t care what the situation is, I bet on myself to get the job done.”
The Phillies have placed righty Victor Arano on the 10-day DL, per a club announcement. He has been diagnosed with a strained right rotator cuff.
To replace Arano on the active roster, the Phils have promoted fellow right Zach Eflin. That move had been anticipated, as he’ll make a start tomorrow night — thus filling the rotation spot vacated (at least temporarily) by Ben Lively.
It does not seem there’s much cause for long-term concern regarding Arano, a 23-year-old reliever who has swiftly turned into a key cog for the Phils. The strain is said to be “mild,” MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki tweets.
Certainly, the Phils will hope the young hurler is not facing more than a brief respite. After a strong debut in 2017, Arano entered the current season with fairly high expectations. He has delivered beyond any reasonable hope thus far, allowing just one earned run on five hits and one unintentional walk over a dozen frames. Throwing his slider on more than half of his deliveries to the plate, Arano has carried an 18.1% swinging-strike rate through his 22 2/3 total MLB innings.
Eflin, meanwhile, will look to improve upon his less-than-promising major-league numbers to date. Through 127 2/3 innings over the past two seasons, he carries a 5.85 ERA with 4.7 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9. There’s probably an opportunity to grab ahold of a starting job if he throws the ball well, though there’s no indication at this point that Lively will be out for long.