The first few days after the all-star break haven’t been kind to Major League Baseball teams with a number of players hitting the DL, while a former MVP returned from his DL stint and a pitcher changed teams but not cities in this week’s MLB Weekly.
Included in the recent spate of injuries are two pitchers for playoff contenders who are facing Tommy John surgery. Yankees SP Michael Pineda was diagnosed with a torn UCL on Friday with a recommendation of going under the knife, though he is seeking a second opinion. Over in the National League, the Nationals confirmed on Saturday that SP Joe Ross will have Tommy John surgery on Wednesday due to elbow damage. With a typical recovery time of 12-18 months, both pitchers are likely to be out until after the 2018 all-star break, with the possibility of not being ready to return to the majors until 2019.
The injury couldn’t come at a worse time for Pineda, who is slated to be a free agent this offseason. Assuming he has the recommended procedure, it will make teams leery of giving him a long-term, big-money deal. He hasn’t pitched well in the last couple of seasons, posting a 4.82 ERA last year and a 4.39 ERA in 2017. Ross has been shuttling between the majors and minors this season, with a 5.01 ERA in his 13 starts for the Nationals. He has been a disappointment this season after putting up a 3.43 ERA in 19 starts last year.
The injury news was better for a couple of sluggers who returned from the DL this weekend. Orioles 1B Chris Davis returns at a time when his team has been falling further behind in the AL East race, now in fourth place in the division and on a 3-7 stretch, including losses in their first two games since the break. Davis has been having a disappointing season to date, hitting just .222 with 14 home runs. Also returning is Angels OF Mike Trout, who was having a typical MVP-caliber season before landing on the DL for the first time in his career. He’s hitting a career-high .339 with 16 home runs in 49 games. With the Astros running away with the AL West, the Angels’ only hope of making the playoffs is as a wild card; they’re currently four games back of the second wild card in the American League.
Other notable players hitting the DL this week include: Cardinals OFs Randal Grichuk (back) and Stephen Piscotty (groin), Padres OF Hunter Renfroe (neck), Indians OF Lonnie Chisenhall (calf), Giants SP Johnny Cueto (blisters), Red Sox P Joe Kelly (hamstring), Twins OF Byron Buxton (groin) and Astros RP Will Harris (shoulder)
In non-injury news, the Cubs and White Sox did something this week that they hadn’t done since 2006 — make a trade with each other, and it was a big one. Trying to stay in the playoff chase and in need of starting pitching help, the Cubs sent four minor leaguers to the White sox for SP Jose Quintana. Highlighting the prospect package being sent to the Sox are OF Eloy Jimenez and P Dylan Cease, who were considered by most experts to be the best prospects in the Cubs’ farm system. The Cubs gave up a lot for Quintana, who has been having the worst season of his career in 2017, going 4-8 with a 4.49 ERA in 104.1 innings. Some of the those losses were the result of poor run support, so a better Cubs offense should help him win more games, and being in the National League and not having to face designated hitters should help Quintana pitch better than he had been thus far this year. He joins a Cubs rotation led by a couple of other struggling stars in SPs Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta, who is a free agent after this season. Quintana will make his first start for his new team today in Baltimore (so he’ll have to face a DH there) as the Cubs look to sweep their three-game series with the Orioles.
The Week Ahead
We’re back to a full of slate of games this week, with the notable series including the Yankees heading to Minnesota Monday to take on the Twins in a series between two teams sticking around in the AL playoff picture. Two surprising teams — one surprising in a good way, the other in a bad way — meet when the Braves host the Cubs for three starting Monday. The Pirates host the Brewers for four starting Monday as the home team tries to make up ground in the NL Central race. Later in the week, the Orioles host the Astros starting Friday, which is also when AL wild-card hopefuls the Rays and Rangers start a series at Tropicana Field. The Nationals visit the Diamondbacks next weekend in a series between two likely NL playoff teams. And one of the game’s best rivalries resumes Friday when the Cardinals head to Wrigley Field to take on the Cubs.
Pitching performances to look out for this week include Lester trying to recover from the worst outing of his career last weekend when he takes the mound Monday against Braves SP Julio Teheran, who has a 7.58 ERA at home this season. Diamondbacks SP Robbie Ray looks to continue his strong season Tuesday against the Reds and SP Sal Romano. Cubs SP John Lackey makes his first start coming off the DL that day, facing Braves SP Sean Newcomb. Dodgers SP Clayton Kershaw goes for his 15th win of 2017 Tuesday against White Sox SP Miguel Gonzalez, making his first start since mid-June. That is also the day that recently signed Twins SP Bartolo Colon is set to make his team debut, at home against the Yankees. Pirates SP Gerrit Cole, a potential trade target in the second half, could be making one of his final starts for Pittsburgh on Wednesday against the Brewers and SP Zach Davies. Red Sox SP Chris Sale tries to get another double-digit strikeout game on Thursday, with the Blue Jays standing in his way at Fenway Park.