- Jacob Nix of the Padres is grinding his way back from an elbow issue that has sidelined him for the entirety of the 2019 season, as noted in a column from Jeff Sanders of the Union-Tribune. After opting for rest and rehab in recovery from a UCL tear, Nix has climbed back up to Triple-A El Paso, where, on Monday, he struck out six hitters in five shutout innings. The 23-year-old Nix, a third-round draft pick of GM AJ Preller’s in 2015, debuted last year with 7.02 ERA, 4.46 K/9, and 2.76 BB/9 numbers across 42.1 innings. As you might expect regarding someone with such a shaky big league resumé, manager Andy Green indicates to Sanders that Nix’s return will be, in the writer’s words, “predicated on his results”.
Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. is expected to miss the remainder of the season, manager Andy Green tells reporters including Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link). The exceptional rookie is dealing with a back issue that drove him to the injured list earlier today and is evidently more serious than had originally been hoped.
It’s exceedingly disappointing news for fans of the San Diego organization, who have long awaited the arrival of a superstar of just this kind. Tatis has more than justified the hype that preceded his ascension to the majors at the outset of the season.
Through 372 plate appearances, Tatis carries an eye-popping .317/.379/.590 batting line with 22 home runs and 16 steals. He’s not carrying the greatest strikeout and walk numbers, lagging the league average in both areas, but has had little trouble making loud contact. Tatis is also a big positive on the bases and has shown a flair for the dramatic in the field — even if metrics aren’t glowing in their overall evaluation of his fielding performance.
Details on the injury still aren’t fully known, but it’s not difficult to see the reasoning behind the pessimistic outlook. There isn’t much reason to push a rehab schedule to get Tatis back in the bigs for a brief stretch, particularly if it means risking a more significant injury. The Padres aren’t going to crack the postseason this year regardless.
That said, it’s still a tough pill to swallow. The Friars drew ample attention when they carried Tatis on the Opening Day roster, passing on a chance to gain an extra season of control by holding him down for a few weeks to open the season. That was a questionable, if ultimately admirable, decision that obviously paid off in some ways even if it means some future sacrifices. The club will now lose the chance to draw fans to the yard to see Tatis over the next six weeks. Regardless, Tatis is one of the most exciting and most valuable player assets in the game.
The Padres will place infielders Fernando Tatis Jr. and Ian Kinsler on the injured list, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. It was already known that a back issue — now reported to be a strain — would likely send Tatis to the IL for the second time this season. A herniated disk in Kinsler’s neck will send him there alongside Tatis. Infielder Ty France and outfielder Travis Jankowski are coming up from Triple-A to fill the two roster spots.
Tatis is still undergoing tests, though Acee writes that the Padres hope he’s able to return in a couple of weeks. A timeline for Kinsler is less clear. With the Padres eight games below .500 and out of the playoff racing barring a stunning resurgence, the loss of Tatis doesn’t impact the postseason picture. However, a second stint on the IL throws a wrench into the 20-year-old Tatis’ Rookie of the Year candidacy. The young phenom is hitting .317/.379/.590 with 22 homers and 16 stolen bases in just 84 games this season. Kinsler, meanwhile, has seen his role dramatically reduced amid a career-worst season at the plate and was hitting just .217/.278/.368 through 281 plate appearances in the first season of a two-year, $8MM contract.
This’ll mark the season debut for Jankowski, 28, who began the season on the 60-day injured list due to a broken wrist. He’s batted .299/.387/.343 in 155 plate appearances with Triple-A El Paso since his wrist healed up to the point where he could return to the field. Jankowski, who’ll be arbitration-eligible this winter, is a lifetime .242/.319/.321 hitter in 953 plate appearances. Depending on how he performs, Jankowski could represent either a trade candidate or a non-tender candidate this winter.
France will return to the big leagues after posting a lackluster .235/.290/.357 batting line in 107 plate appearances earlier this season. However, France has posted an absurd .399/.477/.770 batting line with 27 home runs and 27 doubles apiece in just 76 games (348 plate appearances). The 25-year-old will have a tough path to regular MLB playing time with Manny Machado, Tatis and Eric Hosmer locked into three of the four infield positions and Luis Urias the likely second baseman of the future. France, though, could serve as a utility player who can play multiple positions for the Friars in the future, and his terrific numbers in Triple-A should put him in position for a long-term opportunity to do so. He’s controllable through at least the 2025 season.
The Cardinals have promoted top outfield prospect Dylan Carlson to Triple-A, per an announcement from the club’s top affiliate. That puts the 20-year-old switch-hitter right on the doorstep of the big leagues. Carlson turned in a strong .281/.364/.518 batting line with 21 long balls and 18 steals over 483 Double-A plate appearances. It’s not clear whether the club has any thought of a late-2019 MLB promotion for the talented youngster.
More from the National League …
- MLB.com’s Mike Petriello provides an interesting examination of the feast-or-famine experience hitters have had this year against Brewers lefty relief ace Josh Hader. It really is a curious situation, as Petriello explains in full detail. In essence: Hader is harder to make contact against than anyone in baseball. But when batters have put bat to ball this year, they’ve tended to make loud sounds and often ended up trotting the bases. Petriello identifies a few potential causes/fixes for the Milwaukee southpaw. In particular, it seems Hader can work on reducing first-pitch predictability and tightening up his command at times. You’ll certainly want to read the entire piece to appreciate it.
- As he continues to produce middling overall offensive numbers, Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer is showing increasingly yawning platoon splits, as MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell writes. It’s simple enough, in theory, to spell him against southpaws. But that’s tough to do given the club’s mammoth investment in Hosmer. Skipper Andy Green made clear it’s not an immediate possibility. That makes sense, as the Friars have to hope that Hosmer turns a corner and can afford to give him the leash to work things out. But if it comes down to it, the extreme platoon situation actually ought to make it easier in the long run to deal with a contract that has simply not panned out.
- Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed has long been lauded for his superlative glovework, but has mostly remained an obscure player. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic highlights the growing value of the 29-year-old, who is now finally marrying his excellent defensive performance with much-improved hitting. With torrid recent streak, Ahmed has reached league-average offensive levels for the season as a whole. Piecoro provides an excellent look at Ahmed’s thus-far successful efforts to avoid chasing pitches out of the zone and make better contact when he does offer. Ahmed, who is earning $3.663MM this season, is entering his final season of arbitration eligibility.
The Padres are likely to place phenom Fernando Tatis Jr. on the injured list because of back spasms, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets. Tatis departed Tuesday’s game because of the issue and then sat out Wednesday.
This will be the second IL stint of the season for Tatis, a 20-year-old rookie shortstop who has been among the majors’ best players – first year or otherwise – in 2019. Although he missed a month earlier in the season with a hamstring strain, Tatis has still managed to slash an excellent .317/.379/.590 (149 wRC+) with 22 home runs, 16 steals and 3.7 fWAR across 372 plate appearances. Tatis may join Mets first baseman Pete Alonso as the leading NL Rookie of the Year vote-getters at season’s end, though having a pair of IL trips under his belt could help prevent the Padre from winning the award.
Regardless of whether he takes home any hardware this year, Tatis has the talent to end up in the running for plenty of accolades in the future. With that in mind, the Padres will surely be cautious with Tatis as he works his way back from this injury – especially considering they’re all but out of playoff contention. However, the club is hopeful he’ll be able to return after 10 days off, according to Acee.
The Padres announced that they’ve placed right-handed reliever Carl Edwards Jr. on the injured list with a strained pitching shoulder. The club recalled lefty Robbie Erlin from Triple-A El Paso to take Edwards’ place.
San Diego just acquired Edwards from the Cubs at last month’s trade deadline. The Cubs deemed the once-outstanding Edwards expendable after a few disappointing months, and things haven’t improved since he changed uniforms. Edwards has given up six earned runs on four hits and four walks (with two strikeouts) in two appearances and 1 2/3 innings as a Padre.
Overall, the 27-year-old Edwards has pitched to an 8.47 ERA (5.75 FIP) with 10.06 K/9, 6.88 BB/9 and a paltry 24.4 percent groundball rate in 17 major league innings this season. A drop in velocity – his fastball’s down to 93.9 mph after clocking in from 94.5 to 95.2 between 2016-18 – hasn’t helped matters. That has helped contribute to a serious dip in swinging-strike rate for Edwards, who generated misses 15.4 percent of the time over the prior three seasons but has seen the number sink to 10.7 this year.
Along with his troubles preventing runs with two teams in 2019, Edwards has dealt with a minor league demotion and now a pair of IL stints. The Cubs put him on ice in mid-June with a left thoracic strain. In all, this has been a surprisingly awful season for a pitcher who came into the year with a lifetime 3.06 ERA/3.12 FIP, 12.28 K/9 against 4.92 BB/9, and a 40.4 percent groundball rate in 159 innings.
Per MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell, promising Padres reliever Jose Castillo will miss the remainder of the 2019 season with a torn hand ligament (Twitter link). No surgery will be required, although this is certainly bitter news for a San Diego organization in sore need of bullpen aid.
After a solid 2018 debut in which the lefthanded Venezuelan logged a 3.29 ERA (2.64 FIP) in 38.1 innings, San Diego was likely looking for Castillo to develop into a viable bridge to vaunted closer Kirby Yates. Unfortunately, Castillo was sidelined for the entirety of 2019 with a left forearm flexor strain, until his activation this week. It was in his very first appearance back with the club on Thursday that Castillo exited a game with what at the time was believed to be a finger blister. As it turns out, the problem may end up being much more severe than the primary diagnosis indicated.
In a conference with The Athletic’s Dennis Lin, Padres manager Andy Green explained that the “pulley system” that straps a tendon in the middle finger to the bone was torn in Castillo’s hand (Twitter link). It is fair to speculate that Castillo’s return to the 60-day list will follow in due course.
- After missing the first four-plus months of the season with a flexor strain, Padres left-handed reliever Jose Castillo finally made his 2019 debut on Thursday. It didn’t go well, however. Castillo exited with an injury to the middle finger on his throwing hand, per AJ Cassavell of MLB.com. It’s fortunate that it isn’t another elbow problem for Castillo, though he still could end up heading back to the injured list because of this issue. The 23-year-old hasn’t gotten a chance to build on a superb rookie campaign in 2018, when he fired 38 1/3 innings of 3.29 ERA/2.64 FIP ball with 12.21 K/9 against 2.82 BB/9.
- The Padres are shutting down MacKenzie Gore from competitive innings in the coming weeks, Jeff Saunders of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes, though the star prospect will continue to throw on the side and could possibly return to help Double-A Amarillo reach their playoffs. The left-hander has tossed 99 1/3 combined innings this season at Double-A and high-A ball this season, a sizeable jump up from the 60 frames Gore tossed at A-level Fort Wayne in 2018 (and his 21 1/3 innings in rookie ball in 2017). While there aren’t any real injury concerns with Gore, San Diego is naturally being as cautious as possible with Gore’s development, given his importance to the Padres’ future plans.
- The Padres face several questions heading into the offseason, as The Athletic’s Dennis Lin (subscription required) addresses in a reader mailbag piece. The Padres still have to learn whether several young players, such as Francisco Mejia and Manuel Margot, can be reliable everyday big leaguers, but Lin also feels some of the uncertainty could extend to manager Andy Green. While winning wasn’t a priority in Green’s first three seasons since the team was rebuilding, more than a 52-61 mark was expected in 2019, particularly after Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. joined the roster. “Has Green proven himself particularly adept at player development or capable of steering a competitive team? No one will dispute his work ethic, but nearly four years in, the jury remains out on both counts,” Lin writes. While Green’s contract runs through the 2021 season, Lin notes that other rebuilding teams in recent years (i.e. the Cubs and Joe Maddon, the Phillies and Gabe Kapler) have made a managerial change once they felt on the cusp of returning to contention.
The Padres announced that young left-hander Adrian Morejon has been placed on the 10-day injured list due to a shoulder impingement. Southpaw Jose Castillo has been reinstated from the 60-day IL to take Morejon’s spot on the active roster.
It’s been a rough beginning to Morejon’s big league career, as he has been tagged for a 10.13 ERA over his eight innings of work (five outings) since making his Major League debut back on July 21. There were a couple of silver linings to Morejon’s first taste of the Show, as he averaged 96.4mph on his fastball and recorded nine strikeouts over his eight frames. MLB.com and Baseball America ranked Morejon within the top 50 of their midseason prospects rankings, making him one of the many intriguing youngsters coming out of the loaded San Diego farm system.
Castillo didn’t have nearly the same prospect pedigree when he made his Major League debut for the Padres last season, though the southpaw had much better early results. He posted a 3.29 ERA, 4.33 K/BB, and 12.2 K/9 over 38 1/3 relief innings for San Diego in 2018, though a flexor strain has kept him on the sidelines for all of 2019.