It was a good news/bad news Sunday for the A’s rotation.
Oakland decided to place impressive rookie A.J. Griffin on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain, an injury he suffered during Saturday’s start. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Brandon McCarthy (shoulder) is ready to come off the DL to replace him.
McCarthy cruised through six shutout innings for Triple-A Sacramento Saturday to convince the A’s he was ready, striking out nine batters in the process. It’s no given that the tall right-hander’s shoulder issues are behind him, but he’s put up a 2.54 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 12 starts this season, so obviously he needs to be in all fantasy lineups when healthy.
Griffin’s shoulder ailment isn’t considered to be a big deal, but the A’s could afford to play it safe with him given all their rotation depth. That brings us to this question:
What are the A’s going to do when (if) all of their starters are healthy?
Not only is McCarthy ready to return this week and Griffin likely to be ready before the end of the month, but Brett Anderson (elbow) is also nearing the end of his rehab assignment. Bartolo Colon and Jarrod Parker are locked into two spots, and McCarthy is, as well, as long as he’s healthy. Tommy Milone’s numbers overall this season (3.91 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) are pretty rock-solid, but he’s really struggled on the road (5.77 ERA, 1.53 WHIP) and has been knocked around the last three times out. If he doesn’t right the ship soon and Dan Straily – who was impressive in his MLB debut – pitches well, Milone’s spot could be in jeopardy when Anderson returns later this month.
We haven’t even mentioned Travis Blackley (3.40 ERA, 1.11 WHIP in 19 games – 10 starts) and Dallas Braden (shoulder), who could still be ready sometime in September despite a recent groin strain that’s set him back.
It’s a fluid situation that could change from start to start and week to week. No matter how it shakes out, though, it seems likely that a starter or two deserving of a rotation spot will be left out in the cold.
Cubs fans have very little to look forward to most nights. But, Anthony Rizzo has provided a spark to their lineup, and the team is hoping Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters can do the same.
The Cubbies called up both former first-round picks Sunday and immediately inserted Jackson into the lineup, batting him second and sticking him in center field. The former Cal Bear had an immediate impact, picking up a pair of hits, a walk and a run scored against the Dodgers. Vitters appeared in the game as a pinch-hitter and flew out.
Jackson is an intriguing talent because he has power and speed, profiling as a potential 20/20 man during his prime years. He batted .256/.338/.479 with 15 homers and 27 steals at Triple-A Iowa this season, which is pretty good. He also struck out 158 times in 467 plate appearances, which is awfully bad. He’s unlikely to help out in the average department, but Jackson is worth a gamble in mixed leagues, anyway, due to his power/speed combo.
With Jackson taking over in center field and David DeJesus moving over to right field, Bryan LaHair is without a job. He already had been sitting regularly against left-handed pitching, and he’s really struggled the last couple months, putting up a .686 OPS in June and a .517 OPS in July. The All-Star can probably be dropped in mixed leagues.
Even though Vitters wasn’t in the lineup Sunday, he figures to be most days. The 2007 No. 3 overall pick was on the way to his best minor league season, hitting .304/.356/.513 batting line with 17 homers over 452 plate appearances for Triple-A Iowa. He doesn’t have the swing-and-miss issues like Jackson, but he also draws very few walks and doesn’t run. He’s more of an option in NL-only formats.
National League Quick Hits: A.J. Burnett on Sunday against the Reds came within one out of his second complete game of the season in another impressive showing. He now boasts a 3.19 ERA and 1.15 WHIP for the season … Chipper Jones reiterated his plans to retire after the season despite what has been a fine year … Pablo Sandoval (hamstring) is expected back from the disabled list in about a week. He’s been able to do sprints without any issues … Brandon Phillips (calf) sat out a fifth straight game Sunday. He could be back in the lineup Monday, though … Chris Johnson went deep again Sunday, giving him three homers in six games since joining the Diamondbacks. It won’t last, but he can be played in fantasy leagues while he’s hot … Andrew Cashner (lat) will resume throwing from a mound Wednesday. He could begin a rehab assignment after that and is hoping to rejoin the Padres’ rotation in late August or early September ... Matt Garza (triceps) isn’t quite over his injury and looks headed to the disabled list. The Cubs are likely to call up Casey Coleman to fill in … Jaime Garcia (shoulder) had another successful rehab start Saturday and will make what’s likely to be his final one Thursday. He’ll then rejoin the Cards’ rotation, likely bumping Joe Kelly to the bullpen.
American League Quick Hits: Rays manager Joe Maddon said there’s a 50/50 chance that Evan Longoria (hamstring) returns to the lineup Tuesday. Longo has admitted that his hamstring still isn’t quite 100 percent, so the Rays are hesitant to commit to his return date … Francisco Liriano left Sunday’s start with a right quad contusion. The White Sox don’t think it’s serious and at this point expect the left-hander to make his next start … Ryan Cook could be removed from the A’s closer role after blowing his fourth save in the last six chances Saturday. If the A’s do wind up making a move, Grant Balfour is likely to take over the ninth inning … The Red Sox acquired Danny Valencia from the Twins Sunday. He’ll represent depth at Triple-A … Jeff Baker was picked up by the Tigers Sunday. He probably won’t see a ton of playing time but makes for a threat off the bench against left-handed pitching … The Royals will use Jeff Francoeur and Jarrod Dyson in a timeshare, with Dyson likely to wind up seeing more playing time as a left-handed batter. It could only be a matter of time before we see Wil Myers, though … Chris Perez was touched up for five runs on three hits and two walks in Sunday’s extra-innings loss to the Tigers. He had been unscored upon in the second half before the meltdown, so it’s unlikely the Tribe will make a change at closer at this point.