Melky Cabrera has revitalized his career since the start of the 2011 season. As it turns out, he’s had some extra help.
The 2012 All-Star Game MVP and current major league hits leader has been suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball for testing positive for testosterone. He reportedly failed the test around the All-Star break, but it had been going through the appeals process, which is why the announcement didn’t come until now.
Cabrera served the first game of his suspension Wednesday, and the Giants have 44 more in the regular season, so Melky will be ineligible to return until a few games into the playoffs (assuming his team makes it there). It’s obviously a huge blow to a Giants team that’s been better on offense this season but is still lacking a ton of firepower.
For now, Gregor Blanco is expected to handle the bulk of the starts in left field. Blanco is batting just .236/.331/.346 this season but does have 19 steals, so he could help a bit in fantasy leagues with regular playing time. An interesting name that’s been thrown out there is Alfonso Soriano’s, but Soriano didn’t want to waive his 10-and-5 rights at the deadline, and that still appears to be his stance.
Another aspect of this is that Cabrera has surely cost himself a ton of money in free agency this winter. Someone will likely still be willing to pay a pretty big sum for a guy that had been well on his way to a second straight 200-hit season, but Melky’s list of suitors and price tag undoubtedly shrunk after Wednesday’s news.
The King is Perfect
Remember when some were a little worried about Felix Hernandez’s lack of velocity in spring training?
Those concerns proved to be unnecessary long ago, and King Felix put an exclamation point on his season Wednesday, tossing the first perfect game in Mariners history. The right-hander was simply breathtaking, striking out 12 overmatched Rays hitters while requiring 113 pitches to complete the gem. It’s the third perfect game in baseball this season and the sixth no-hitter, three of which that have been thrown at Safeco Field.
King Felix has been on fire since the All-Star break, posting a pristine 1.39 ERA, 0.62 WHIP and 48/9 K/BB ratio over 58 1/3 innings. He’s also once again been one of the best pitchers in the game all season long, sporting a 2.60 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 174/44 K/BB ratio over 180 frames.
Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik was steadfast before the trade deadline and again after Wednesday’s perfecto that he has no interest in trading Hernandez. We don’t doubt that he’s speaking the truth, but it will be interesting to see if he changes his mind or if King Felix possibly even requests a trade if the M’s are floundering again next season. Hernandez is owed $39.5 million from 2013-14 before hitting free agency.
Garcia Bumps Kelly to Pen
Joe Kelly proved to be a nice stabilizer at the back-end of the Cardinals’ rotation since his recall back in mid-June, posting a 3.41 ERA over 12 starts. His reward? A trip to the bullpen.
Jaime Garcia concluded his rehab assignment from a shoulder injury with five solid innings Tuesday and will rejoin the Cards’ rotation Sunday against the Pirates. That means Kelly is headed for a relief role despite his solid work, but given that he lacks consistent secondary offerings, he might be better suited for a relief role over the long haul, anyway. Kelly was a closer in his college days.
"He understands the mindset. He understands what it's like coming out of the bullpen," manager Mike Matheny said on MLB.com. "I think he'll adjust quickly to it. I think he's going to come back throwing a little harder."
As far as Garcia goes, it appears that a shoulder injury that’s kept him out since early June is no longer an issue. Garcia posted a 4.48 ERA and 1.46 WHIP in 11 outings before going on the DL, but it’s worth noting that he was clearly compromised in his last couple outings, when he surrendered 10 runs over eight innings, pushing his ERA up nearly a full point from 3.55. His pitch count didn’t reach 100 during his rehab assignment, so his outings could be short initially. It might be wise to give him a start or two before activating him.
National League Quick Hits: Neil Walker dislocated his right pinkie finger in Wednesday’s loss to the Dodgers. He’ll visit with a hand specialist Thursday before more is known about his status ... Huston Street (calf) is not expected to be activated from the disabled list until September, as he’s yet to resume throwing and it’s not clear when he’ll do so. Dale Thayer will continue to handle save chances for the Padres in the meantime ... Yadier Molina sat out Wednesday’s game and could miss 1-2 more with lower back tightness. Tony Cruz will fill in behind the plate ... Bud Norris exited Wednesday’s start with a contusion on his left foot after he tried to stop a comebacker. His status for his next outing is up in the air ... The Mets are moving to a six-man rotation, adding Jeremy Hefner to the mix. They will keep R.A. Dickey on regular rest, though ... Jim Henderson blew a save chance Wednesday and has now been scored upon in four of his last six appearances. The Brewers would like John Axford to regain his closer job, but he’s certainly done nothing to indicate he’s ready to re-take the role.
American League Quick Hits: David Ortiz (Achilles) said he’s feeling better, but he’s yet to resume baseball activities and will not do so for another few days. His return date remains up in the air ... Jemile Weeks could be fighting to keep his starting job at second base. Adam Rosales started there Wednesday, and prospect Grant Green has been playing more second base at Triple-A Sacramento ... J.P. Arencibia had the hard cast removed from his fractured right hand on Wednesday and can begin doing light strengthening exercises. The Blue Jays are hoping to get him back at the beginning of September ... Alex Rodriguez (hand) will undergo more X-rays Sunday and should be cleared to resume swinging a bat if the exams show similar progress as his last X-ray ... Paul Konerko (concussion) has resumed baseball-related activities and looks to be on track to return from the 7-day DL on Friday when first eligible ... Rangers manager Ron Washington has no plans to bench the struggling Michael Young in favor of Mike Olt or anyone else. Young entered play Wednesday batting just .269/.300/.343 with three homers this season.