Bad Break for BirdsFriday, August 31, 2012
The Cardinals may still make the playoffs, but the road there just got a little bit tougher.
Rafael Furcal was forced to leave Thursday's game against the Nationals after injuring his right elbow on a throw to second base in the bottom of the sixth inning. The early diagnosis is an elbow strain, but the veteran shortstop later reported hearing a "pop" sound when he made the throw and Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch hears that Furcal is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Friday to confirm a possible torn ulnar collateral ligament. If the team's worst fears turn out to be correct, he will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery.
Furcal got off to a red-hot start this season, but he's hitting just .215 with 10 extra-base hits (one home run), 26 RBI and four stolen bases in 72 games since the start of June. Those in mixed fantasy leagues should be able to forge ahead, but it will be tough for the Cardinals to replace Furcal's all-around contributions at shortstop. Daniel Descalso figures to get most of the starts there for now while Ryan Jackson and Peter Kozma could also be in the mix down the stretch. None are worth chasing outside of NL-only fantasy leagues.
A-Rod Nearing Return
While it's not clear when the Yankees will get Mark Teixeira back from a Grade 1 strain of his left calf, the return of Alex Rodriguez appears to be right around the corner.
Rodriguez, who broke a bone in his left hand when he was hit by a pitch on July 24, is expected to serve as the designated hitter Friday when he begins a minor league rehab assignment with High-A Tampa. He's scheduled to play there through the weekend and could rejoin the Yankees as soon as Monday if all goes well. The 37-year-old was originally expected to miss 6-8 weeks, so he's ahead of schedule at the moment.
Eric Chavez has been a very productive fill-in at third base, hitting .385 with five home runs, 12 RBI and a 1.075 OPS over his last 22 games, but his fantasy value isn't going to just vanish when Rodriguez returns. The 34-year-old should still get some starts at first base while Teixeira is on the disabled list and will likely man third base when A-Rod gets a DH day. It may happen more than you think in September.
Strasburg Shutdown Approaching
Here's your weekly reminder that, yes, the Nationals still intend to shut Stephen Strasburg down in September. In fact, Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Thursday that he recently told the young right-hander that he has "probably" two or three starts left this season.
Strasburg is currently at 150 1/3 innings while most have speculated that he'll be shut down once he gets to around 160 innings, similar to what the Nationals did with Jordan Zimmermann last year in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. Assuming the Nationals don't change their minds or postponements mess with the schedule, Strasburg currently lines up to pitch Sunday against the Cardinals and next Friday against the Marlins. If he gets that third start, it will be on September 12 against the Mets. Enjoy him while you still can.
John Lannan is poised to take Strasburg's spot in the rotation for the final three weeks of the regular season and while he's a pretty big downgrade, at least he's peaking at the right time with Triple-A Syracuse. The 27-year-old southpaw struck out 10 on Thursday in his second straight shutout. He should be worth a look in NL-only leagues once he's called up.
NL Quick Hits: Cole Hamels (illness) is scheduled to make his next start Sunday against the Braves … Ryan Braun hit his 36th home run in Thursday's loss to the Cubs ... Jimmy Rollins was pulled from Thursday's game against the Mets after not hustling on an infield pop-up … Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten fears that Chad Billingsley (elbow) could be done for the season … Jonathan Papelbon notched his 30th save Thursday against the Mets, giving him seven straight seasons of 30 or more saves … Yadier Molina (neck, back, shoulder) went 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout Thursday in his return to action … Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Padres are leaning against trading Chase Headley this offseason … Ian Kennedy tossed 6 1/3 shutout innings Thursday in a win over the Dodgers … Bryce Harper homered and knocked in three runs Thursday in a win over the Cardinals … Brandon Belt went 4-for-5 with an RBI double in Thursday's win over the Astros … Lance Berkman (knee) went 1-for-1 on Thursday in his final rehab game with Triple-A Memphis and is expected to be activated from the disabled list Thursday … Shaun Marcum left Thursday's start against the Cubs after just four innings due to cramping in his right calf … The Rockies will keep their four-man rotation and 75-pitch limits next season … The Astros plan to scout Roger Clemens' next start for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters on September 7 … The Brewers are considering sending Mat Gamel (knee) to the Arizona Fall League …
AL Quick Hits: Zack Greinke allowed two runs over seven innings Thursday in a win over the Red Sox … After missing 13 out of the past 17 games, Denard Span was finally placed on the disabled list Thursday with a sprained sternoclavicular joint … Josh Reddick went 3-for-5 with his 27th homer of the season and three RBI on Thursday against the Indians … The hot-hitting Howie Kendrick left Thursday's game against the Red Sox with right knee soreness and is considered day-to-day … Carlos Villanueva tossed six scoreless frames Thursday in a win over the Rays … Matt Joyce (forearm) went 1-for-2 on Thursday in his return to the lineup … Zach Britton allowed one run in eight innings and struck out a career-high 10 in Thursday's win over the White Sox before being optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. He should be back next week … Daniel Bard returned to the Red Sox bullpen Thursday after posting an ugly 7.03 ERA and 32/29 K/BB ratio over 32 innings with Triple-A Pawtucket … Randy Wolf is expected to join the Orioles on Friday as a reliever … Jason Frasor (forearm) is expected to be activated from the disabled list Saturday … David Aardsma (elbow) is scheduled to restart a rehab assignment Friday with High-A Tampa while Pedro Feliciano (shoulder) will move his rehab stint to Class A Staten Island on Friday …