The Cardinals have played their first eight games this season without the services of their closer. It appears that they’ll have to do without him for a while longer.
An MRI Tuesday on Jason Motte’s right elbow discovered a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament. The Cards are holding out hope that the right-hander might be OK with some rest, as he’ll be shut down for three more weeks before being re-evaluated. However, the probability is high that Tommy John surgery is on the horizon.
With Motte on the shelf, St. Louis will continue to roll with Mitchell Boggs as their closer. Boggs had a nightmare of an outing Monday, allowing seven runs -- six earned -- on two hits and four walks over 1/3 of an inning. He bounced back with a 1-2-3 inning Tuesday, though, going through the heart of the Reds’ order. Last year’s National League holds leader, Boggs is good enough to keep the closer job.
However, if Boggs should falter, the Cards have young fireballer Trevor Rosenthal waiting in the wings. Rosenthal has failed to register a hold in two of his three chances this season, and his breaking ball and changeup can be inconsistent. But, he boasts an 8/1 K/BB ratio over six innings, and he clearly has the potential to be dominant. The Motte injury obviously is a blow, but it’s one the Cards should be able to sustain.
The Angels thought they had dodged a bullet when Jered Weaver was originally diagnosed with a hyperextended left elbow that he suffered while trying to avoid a line drive during Sunday’s start. However, the injury turned out to be much worse.
Weaver suffered a fracture in the elbow, an injury that will sideline the right-hander for at least a month and possibly as long as six weeks. It’s a major blow to an Angels squad that’s off to a slow start and that has question marks in their rotation beyond Weaver and C.J. Wilson.
For now, the plan is to insert Garrett Richards into the rotation to fill Weaver’s spot. Richards hasn’t thrown more than 1 2/3 innings in any of his four appearances out of the bullpen so far, and he didn’t get that stretched out during spring training. He has plenty of starter experience, though, so it shouldn’t be that big of a deal.
Jerome Williams looms as a fallback option if it doesn’t work out with Richards. There’s also the possibility of the club looking outside the organization for help, though they’re reportedly not interested in Aaron Harang, who was recently designated for assignment.
Roy Halladay’s struggles continued on Monday, and on Tuesday it was Tim Lincecum’s turn.
Lincecum followed up last week’s seven-walk outing with another four free passes Tuesday, and this time it came along with four hits and six runs. Over his first two starts, the two-time NL Cy Young winner holds a 4.91 ERA and 1.64 WHIP to go along with 11 walks over 11 innings.
Lincecum’s velocity remains down, and he continues to display a failure to adjust with his ability to blow away batters no longer there. The right-hander still struck out a batter per inning last season, and he’s on a similar pace in the early going this year. Fantasy owners would be wise not to expect more than strikeouts this season, though, as the diminutive hurler looks like he’ll be an ERA and WHIP killer again.
National League Quick Hits: Kyuji Fujikawa on Tuesday nailed down his first save chance since officially taking over as closer, pitching around an error while going through the heart of the Brewers' order ... Lance Lynn tossed six innings of one-run ball while striking out 10 Reds batters in a win Tuesday ... Rafael Soriano on Tuesday gave up two more runs but survived to convert his third save in four chances ... Adam LaRoche returned from a back injury to pick up his first two hits – both homers – in a win over the White Sox ... Carlos Quentin was hit on the wrist by a pitch Tuesday, but X-rays were negative and he’s considered day-to-day ... Cliff Lee came within one out of a complete game Tuesday, striking out six and walking zero Mets batters along the way ... After a stress test revealed that his thumb was healing as expected, Chase Headley hit off a tee, played flip in the batting cage and took some ground balls Tuesday ... Hanley Ramirez will have the cast on his right thumb removed sometime this week ... The Reds remain worried about Sean Marshall’s shoulder, and a trip to the disabled list could be in order ...
American League Quick Hits: Greg Holland worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam Tuesday to record his second save of the season ... Nick Tepesch allowed just one run in 7 1/3 innings in his major league debut Tuesday, giving up just four hits while striking out five in the process ... Alex Rios homered for the fourth time in as many games Tuesday, adding a pair of singles and a stolen base for good measure ... Gordon Beckham exited Tuesday’s game with left wrist irritation and is expected to miss at least the next two contests ... Robinson Cano went 4-for-6 with a home run and five RBI Tuesday one day after going 3-for-4 with two dingers ... After being reinstated from a 2011 suspension for throwing at a batter, Carlos Carrasco was ejected from Tuesday’s start after hitting Kevin Youkilis with a pitch ... Josh Reddick’s wrist is still swollen, and he likely won’t play until Thursday at the earliest, but he remains confident he can avoid a DL stint ... Matt Harrison (back) is unlikely to make his scheduled start Thursday against the Mariners, but he’s not expected to go on the DL ... The Rangers designated Julio Borbon for assignment ... Jose Bautista returned to the lineup as a DH Tuesday after missing last weekend's series with an ankle injury ...