Matt Stroup

Baseball Daily Dose

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Paging Frank Francisco

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tuesday saw a notable (and sudden) change in AL closing duties, as Jon Rauch (appendicitis) is expected to miss 3-4 weeks, leaving Frank Fransciso to handle closing duties while Rauch is out. I don't fully trust Francisco to be a reliable closing option (fitting that the picture embedded here shows him appearing to have just given up a homer), but he has thrown nine consecutive scoreless innings since July 22, and obviously qualifies as a must-own player despite a 4.17 ERA and 1.50 WHIP on the season.

In other closer-related news, Bobby Parnell will have a chance to secure his status as the Mets' top ninth-inning option now that Jason Isringhausen has recorded his 300th save. Parnell has a strong 49/17 K/BB ratio in 39 2/3 innings this season, but also has a 5.49 ERA and 1.68 WHIP since the beginning of July, meaning that owners adding him should be aware that they're doing so with plenty of risk.

Elsewhere, Carlos Marmol registered his eighth blown save of the year by surrendering a walk-off grand slam to Brian Bogusevic in a 6-5 loss. A hideous outing, but it should be noted that Marmol had recorded nine straight saves prior to that, allowing just three hits and one run in his last 9 2/3 innings of work.

In other news…

  • Tuesday was a good day for Frank Francisco, but a positively horrendous day for San Francisco, as the Giants saw the Braves pick up a walk-off win for a second straight night, and may soon ask coaches Roberto Kelly and Hensley Meulens to take the field as they search for healthy players.

    First, there's Carlos Beltran, who finally hit the DL due to his strained right hand. Beat writer Andrew Baggarly reports that he's been sent for a second opinion and an MRI, and though it's possible Beltran will be ready to return when eligible on Tuesday, his timetable obviously hinges on the results of those tests. Brandon Belt remains the primary beneficiary of Beltran's absence, but is 0-for-6 with three strikeouts since homering twice on Sunday.

    Another notable Giant headed for the DL is Jonathan Sanchez, who left Tuesday's game in the third inning with a left ankle injury. Sanchez was on crutches after the game, and is expected to be out "awhile," according to Bruce Bochy.

    But that's not all. San Francisco setup man Sergio Romo (elbow) hit the DL and was sent back to San Francisco for further testing. Additionally, Nate Schierholtz (foot) had X-rays which mercifully came back negative, and X-rays on Jeff Keppinger's wrist came back negative as well (both are considered day-to-day). Ending on a positive note, Pablo Sandoval was back in the starting lineup after fouling a ball off his foot Monday, going 1-for-4.

  • Chris Davis is expected to miss the rest of the year due to a tear in his shoulder, with a Thursday visit to Dr. Lewis Yocum determining whether or not he needs surgery. Davis crushed Triple-A pitching this year (a .368 average, 24 homers, 66 RBI and a 1.229 OPS), but was far from proving he's suddenly ready to hit big league pitching, posting a .241 average with four homers, a 658 OPS and 6/38 BB/K ratio in 116 at-bats.

  • Monday's MRI on Cole Hamels' left shoulder only showed mild inflammation, so the left-hander will avoid a trip to the DL for now. However, Hamels is expected to be skipped in the rotation this week and will throw on Wednesday in hopes of starting next Monday or Tuesday against the Mets.

  • Though it was initially reported that he was dealing with an illness, David Ortiz sat out both games of Tuesday's doubleheader due to right heel bursitis. Per beat writer Brian MacPherson, Ortiz is expected to be in a walking boot for a few days, but Terry Francona doesn't believe he'll need a trip to the DL.

  • Though Hanley Ramirez (shoulder) is eligible to return on Friday in San Diego, manager Jack McKeon said that the shortstop isn't expected to join the Marlins on their current road trip. If that holds true, the first day Ramirez could return would be next Tuesday against Cincinnati.

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    Pitcher injury notes: Jair Jurrjens (knee) told that "This is the best I've felt this year" as he prepares to return from the DL Wednesday … Bronson Arroyo (Achilles) expects to make his scheduled start on Thursday … Garrett Richards (right abductor strain) hit the disabled list, clearing the way for Joel Pineiro to return to the rotation on Saturday against Baltimore … Chris Narveson (thumb) could return to start on Aug. 22 … Joe Blanton (elbow) could throw off a mound next week, but if he returns this season it will likely be as a reliever … Francisco Rodriguez was unavailable Tuesday due to leg soreness … Andrew Cashner (shoulder) is slated for a minor league rehab assignment next week in hopes of helping the Cubs' bullpen down the stretch … Freddy Garcia (finger) is hoping to rejoin the rotation this weekend against the Twins … Alex Cobb (rib cage) is slated for season-ending surgery on Thursday … The Astros are planning to shut down Jordan Lyles after four or five more starts … Zach Britton (shoulder) allowed one run over five innings at Triple-A and could return as soon as this weekend.

    Position player injury notes: Nelson Cruz (quad) was back in the lineup Tuesday after leaving Monday's game for precautionary reasons … Jason Kipnis (oblique) hopes to return later this week … The Pirates activated Jose Tabata and sent Pedro Alvarez (.196 average) to Triple-A … Jordan Schafer (finger) has been cleared to begin a rehab assignment and could debut for the Astros next week … Grady Sizemore (knee, hernia) is hitting off a tee and playing catch, but previous timetables have indicated that he's out until some time in September … An MRI confirmed that Rajai Davis has a torn left hamstring, leaving no timetable for the outrfielder's return … Michael Cuddyer (neck) missed a fifth straight game … Denard Span (lingering concussion issues) could return on Wednesday.

    Position player injury notes (part 2): Placido Polanco (sports hernia) hit the DL, but is expected to avoid surgery and is eligible to return as soon as Aug. 21 … Omar Infante (finger) is expected to return this weekend … Conor Jackson (neck, back) could be back Thursday, and needs to hurry since Brandon Allen is 7-for-13 since joining the A's … Edgar Renteria left Tuesday's game with a strained groin … Jesus Guzman (elbow) returned to the starting lineup Tuesday … Michael Brantley (wrist) also returned to action … A.J. Pierzynski has been diagnosed with a fractured right wrist, leaving Tyler Flowers as Chicago's starting catcher.

    Miscellaneous notes:'s Jon Heyman reports that Logan Morrison is not expected to file a grievance against the Marlins over his minor league demotion … The Cardinals have suspended pitching prospect Shelby Miller indefinitely for violation of team policy after what's believed to be an alcohol-related altercation … Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports that Orlando Hernandez is expected to announce his retirement.

    Editor's Note: For exclusive columns, rankings, projections and more, check out Rotoworld's MLB Season Pass.

    Notable pitching: Roy Halladay struck out 14 (throwing 123 pitches) in a complete-game loss against Arizona … Chris Carpenter struck out a season-high 10 in a no-decision against the Pirates … Brian Matusz gave up six runs in 6 2/3 innings against the A's in his return to the rotation … James Shields recorded his ninth complete game, but was outpitched by Jon LesterRandall Delgado threw six no-hit innings before allowing a leadoff homer to Cody Ross in the seventh, but has been sent back to Triple-A to make room for Jair JurrjensYovani Gallardo held the Dogers to one run on four hits with nine strikeouts in eight innings … Jeff Niemann struck out 10 in a complete-game win over the Red Sox … Leo Nunez gave up two runs on three hits in a second straight shaky outing, but still escaped with his 33rd save … Derek Holland gave up three runs on nine hits with seven strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings against the Angels.

    Notable hitting: The currently scalding Casper Wells homered for a fourth consecutive game … Garrett Jones' fourth homer of the month was a walk-off shot off Arthur Rhodes that landed in the Allegheny River … Jacoby Ellsbury hit his 21st and 22nd homers of the year … Josh Hamilton picked up three hits and homered for just the second time since July 19 … Albert Pujols hit home run No. 30 … In his first start since rejoining the Diamondbacks, Lyle Overbay went 3-for-4 with three RBI in Arizona's 3-2 win over the Phillies … Jose Bautista reached base five times and hit his 35th homer … Josh Willingham hit his fifth homer of the month … Carlos Gonzalez hit his third homer in his last five games … Troy Tulowitzki is now hitting .418 with five homers and 12 RBI in August.

  • Matt Stroup covers basketball, baseball and football for You can find him on Twitter here .
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