D.J. Short

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Timeline for Tulo?

Friday, July 27, 2012

When Troy Tulowitzki underwent surgery on June 21 to remove scar tissue from a nerve in his groin, he was expected to miss around six-to-eight weeks. This placed his return somewhere around mid-to-late August. We haven't heard much on his progress recently, but Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported Thursday that the out-of-contention Rockies were considering shutting him down for the rest of the season. Fortunately for fantasy owners, that report appears to be premature.

Troy Renck of the Denver Post spoke with Tulo, who said that he has begun hitting off a tee and continues to do light running. He plans to ramp up baseball activities as his body allows, so while there's no clear timetable for his return, he would like to play down the stretch in order to ease his mind going into the offseason. In other words, no shut down. At least not yet.

While fantasy owners would be wise to keep Tulowitzki safely tucked away in a DL-spot, rookie Josh Rutledge will continue to fill in at shortstop. The 23-year-old is hitting .356 (16-for-45) with one homer, five doubles, two triples, six RBI and three stolen bases over his first 12 games in the big leagues and is already making a case to be the Opening Day second baseman in 2013. The 2010 third-round pick has shown both power and speed in the minors, so he's well worth a look in deeper mixed formats right now.

First Impressions

Thursday night marked the debut of two top prospects, Mets right-hander Matt Harvey and Pirates outfielder Starling Marte. Both of them made history.

We'll start with Harvey, who struck out 11 batters over 5 1/3 shutout innings as part of a 3-1 win over the Diamondbacks in Arizona. The 23-year-old right-hander allowed three hits and three walks while throwing 65 out of 105 pitches for strikes. The 2010 first-round pick was sitting in the mid-90s with his fastball while his slider was absolutely filthy. According to Brooks Baseball, he had 18 swings-and-misses. And to think, the Mets went with Miguel Batista over him last Saturday against the Dodgers.

Harvey established a new club record for strikeouts by a pitcher in their major league debut, surpassing the previous record of eight, which was held by Tom Seaver (1967) and Bill Denehy (1967). His 11 strikeouts were the most by a pitcher in their major league debut since Stephen Strasburg struck out 14 Pirates two years ago. Harvey also went 2-for-2 with a double, becoming the first pitcher since 1900 to strike out 10 or more batters and get two or more hits in their first major league start.

Harvey's command can be an issue at times and his fastball can be a little straight, which is dangerous when he leaves it up in the strike zone, but there's no question that he has the goods to be a solid major league starter for a long time. He's obviously keeper gold, but his swing-and-miss potential could be pretty valuable in standard mixed leagues the rest of the way.

As for Marte, well, it didn't take long for him to make an impact against the Astros. In fact, it took just one pitch. Marte, who was inserted into the leadoff spot, ripped the first pitch he saw from left-hander Dallas Keuchel over the fence in left-center field.

Marte became the 28th player in major league history to homer on the first pitch of his career and the first Pirate to do it since Don Leppert on June 18, 1961. The 23-year-old outfielder added a single in the fifth inning and finished the night 2-for-4 with a caught stealing.

Marte earned the long-awaited promotion from Triple-A Indianapolis after hitting .286/.347/.500 with 46 extra-base hits (12 homers) 62 RBI, 21 stolen bases and an .847 OPS over 99 games this season. His plate discipline is a work in progress, so his transition to the majors might not be a smooth one, but it looks like the Pirates will continue to start him in left field and use him out of the leadoff spot. His dynamic skill set is worth owning in 12-14 team mixed leagues.

More Closer Drama in Milwaukee

On the heels of Francisco Rodriguez blowing a pair of saves this week against the Phillies, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke announced before Thursday's game that he will utilize a closer-by-committee for the time being.

Roenicke told Adam McCalvy of MLB.com that he hasn't ruled out any one pitcher for save chances, including veteran right-hander Livan Hernandez, who notched his first career save earlier this season as a member of the Braves. These are the kind of things managers say when their teams have lost seven straight games.

There's reason to believe this committee won't last very long, as John Axford has notched 5 1/3 scoreless innings since being pulled from the closer role less than two weeks ago, including three strikeouts over two shutout innings against the Phillies on Wednesday. The "Axman" is the pitcher to own in this bullpen and should be picked up in all fantasy leagues where he was dropped.

NL Quick Hits: In an interview with USA Today on Thursday, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin indicated that he intends to trade Zack Greinke before next Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline … Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Dodgers turned down an offer from the Cubs that would have sent Ryan Dempster to Los Angeles straight up for prospect right-hander Allen Webster …  A.J. Burnett notched his 12th win Thursday by allowing two runs over 7 1/3 innings against the Astros … Yovani Gallardo was knocked around for seven runs over five innings in Thursday's loss to the Nationals … Chris Capuano was tagged for six runs over 4 1/3 innings in Thursday's loss to the Cardinals and has a 4.50 ERA over his last six starts … David Freese left Thursday's game against the Dodgers with cramping in his right calf, but is considered day-to-day … Jonathan Lucroy went 1-for-3 in his return from the disabled list Thursday … Placido Polanco was placed on the disabled list Thursday with lower back inflammation … The Brewers designated George Kottaras for assignment on Thursday and are expected to trade him in the next couple of days … The Pirates have bumped Kevin Correia to the bullpen in favor of Wandy Rodriguez, who will make his first start with his new club Saturday against the Astros in Houston …  

AL Quick Hits: Evan Longoria (hamstring) began a minor league rehab assignment Thursday with Triple-A Durham and went 0-for-3 with a walk … Edwin Encarnacion established a new career-high with his 27th homer Thursday … Carlos Santana went deep in Thursday's win over the Tigers and is hitting .333 (14-for-42) with three homers and eight RBI since the All-Star break … Nick Swisher (hip) will not be active for Friday's series opener against the Red Sox, but he could return as soon as Saturday … James Shields notched 10 strikeouts Thursday, but allowed five runs over six innings in a loss to the Orioles. Nevertheless, the Angels, Dodgers and Rangers have all expressed interest in the 30-year-old right-hander … Blue Jays manager John Farrell said Thursday that it's "premature" to discuss a possible demotion for Ricky RomeroTrevor Plouffe (thumb) is expected to return Friday … Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Angels and Orioles remain in the mix for Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano … According to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, closer Jonathan Broxton is the most likely Royal to be traded … Yunel Escobar (back) missed his second straight game Thursday … X-rays came back negative after J.J. Hardy was hit in the ribcage with a pitch during Thursday's game against the Rays … Vernon Wells (thumb) could be activated from the disabled list Friday … Mitch Moreland (hamstring) is scheduled to continue his rehab assignment Friday with Double-A Frisco … Roberto Hernandez allowed three runs (one earned) over five innings Thursday in his first minor league tune-up start with Class A Lake County …

D.J. Short is a Rotoworld baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. You can also find him on Twitter.
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