Fantasy owners who have been patiently waiting for Cole Hamels to make his season debut are about to be rewarded. The southpaw tossed seven innings of one-run ball Thursday with High-A Clearwater in what was likely his final minor league rehab start.
Hamels, who began the year on the disabled list with left biceps tendinitis, gave up three hits and one walk Thursday while striking out a pair. He threw 57 out of 81 pitches for strikes, with the lone run scoring on a solo home run. Through three rehab starts, he has an excellent 2.12 ERA and 12/1 K/BB ratio over 17 innings. Of course, the most important thing is that he hasn't had any setbacks.
As of now, Hamels is on track to join the Phillies' rotation early next week. If the Phillies keep him on regular rest, his season debut should be next Tuesday against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Either way, his return is right around the corner.
Hamels, 30, is coming off a 3.60 ERA and 202/50 K/BB ratio over 220 innings last season. Assuming his early health issues are now behind him, he's quite capable of outperforming the discount price he likely fetched on draft day.
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Danny Salazar was a popular breakout pick in fantasy drafts this spring, but so far we have seen flashes of brilliance along with inconsistency. In other words, he looks a lot like a pitcher with fewer than 70 major league innings to his name.
Salazar was handed the loss Thursday against the Tigers after giving up five runs over just 4 2/3 innings. The 24-year-old actually started out with three scoreless innings before Austin Jackson delivered a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fourth inning. Ian Kinsler busted things open in the fifth inning with a three-run homer while Jackson tacked on another run with his second sacrifice fly of the game.
Salazar struck out three and walked three in the loss and now owns a 7.71 ERA and 17/8 K/BB ratio in 14 innings across three starts this season. He has yet to make it out of the sixth inning. Reason for concern? Indians manager Terry Francona doesn't think so.
"With youth, sometimes it doesn't happen as fast," Francona told Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. "You want it to happen right now. He'll be all right."
Salazar has amazing stuff, including a mid-90s fastball and an excellent changeup, so there's every reason to believe that he'll eventually find his stride. Down the stretch last year, we saw a small sample of what he's capable of doing when he's right. While it has been a frustrating ride so far this season, ups and downs are to be expected with young pitchers. Those who invested heavily on draft day will have to be patient.
Setback for Janssen, Toronto's Bullpen Melts Down
Casey Janssen embarked on a minor league rehab assignment earlier this week in hopes of reclaiming his closer job in Toronto, but it looks like his absence will stretch into May.
Janssen, who began the year on the disabled list with a strain in his lower back and abdominal muscle, has been temporarily shut down due to recurring discomfort. One appearance with High-A Dunedin was enough to tell him that he just wasn't quite ready. According to Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Thursday that he's "going to take a few days off."
This situation is especially unfortunate for the Blue Jays given what we saw from Sergio Santos on Thursday night against the Twins. After entering with a two-run lead and two men on base in the bottom of the eighth inning, he walked all three batters he faced and coughed up the lead with three wild pitches. Seriously. It doesn't get much uglier than that.
The Blue Jays will have to hope that it was just an off-night for Santos, who came into Thursday's action 4-for-4 in save opportunities this season. Otherwise, they could have to turn elsewhere until Janssen is ready to return from the disabled list, potentially opening the door for Aaron Loup and Steve Delabar to get save chances. Keep an eye on this situation, fantasy owners.
AL Quick Hits: Robinson Cano and Shin-Soo Choo both hit their first home runs of the season Thursday … Jose Reyes (hamstring) is on track to return from the disabled list Saturday … Jon Lester struck out nine batters over eight innings of one-run ball in a win over the White Sox on Thursday …Manny Machado (knee) ran the bases again Thursday and is scheduled to play in an extended spring training game Saturday … James Shields struck out 12 batters over eight innings of one-run ball in a win over the Astros on Thursday … Koji Uehara (shoulder) made his first appearance in eight days Thursday against the White Sox and worked a scoreless ninth inning for his third save of the season … Chris Sale struck out 10 batters and gave up just one run Thursday in a tough-luck loss to the Red Sox ... Ian Kinsler homered, knocked in four runs, and stole a base in Thursday's win over the Indians … Shane Victorino (hamstring) will begin a minor league rehab assignment Saturday with Triple-A Pawtucket … Mike Napoli (finger) went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored in his return to action Thursday … Michael Brantley homered and drove in four runs in Thursday's loss to the Tigers … CC Sabathia allowed two runs -- one earned -- over seven innings Thursday in a in a win over the Rays … David Robertson (groin) threw a 25-pitch bullpen session Thursday and is slated to throw in a minor league game Saturday ... R.A. Dickey allowed five runs on seven hits and five walks over 4 1/3 innings Thursday against the Twins and now has a 6.26 ERA and 18 walks in 23 innings through his first four starts ... Mark Teixeira (hamstring) played three innings in extended spring training on Thursday afternoon and hopes to be activated when he's first eligible on Sunday … Tanner Scheppers was hit hard for six runs over just 2 1/3 innings Thursday against the Mariners and now owns a 9.82 ERA through four starts, but Rangers manager Ron Washington isn't ready to pull him from the rotation … Kyle Gibson tossed eight shutout innings in the first game of Thursday's doubleheader against the Blue Jays … The Royals placed Lorenzo Cain on the disabled list with a left groin strain while teammate Jarrod Dyson has been placed on the bereavement list …
NL Quick Hits: Hanley Ramirez (hand) hopes to return to action Friday … Adam Wainwright struck out eight in a two-hit shutout against the Nationals on Thursday … Bryce Harper (quad) was hitless in four at-bats in his return to action Thursday … Clayton Kershaw (back) threw 35 pitches in a bullpen session Thursday afternoon, during which he worked in some breaking balls … Buster Posey took a foul tip off his shoulder Thursday and could get the day off Friday … Hyun-Jin Ryu tossed seven scoreless innings in a win over the Giants on Thursday … Pedro Alvarez smacked his sixth home run of the season Thursday against the Brewers … Michael Cuddyer left Thursday's game after tweaking his hamstring, but doesn't think he'll need a trip to the disabled list … Doug Fister (lat) threw two innings Thursday in an extended spring training game and is on track to join the Nationals' rotation on May 7 … Hernia and all, A.J. Burnett tossed seven scoreless innings Thursday against the Braves … Denard Span (concussion) went 1-for-2 with two walks and a stolen base Thursday in his first rehab game with Low-A Hagerstown … Alex Wood gave up one run in eight innings in a complete game loss to the Phillies on Thursday … Joe Kelly was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left hamstring strain and Tyler Lyons appears likely to come up from Triple-A to take his place in the rotation next week against the Mets … Edinson Volquez yielded two runs over seven innings in Thursday's win over the Brewers and now owns a 1.71 ERA and 13/4 K/BB ratio in 21 innings this season … Brett Anderson underwent thumb surgery Thursday and will miss 4-6 weeks … Jaime Garcia (shoulder) is scheduled to throw 35 pitches Saturday in an extended spring training game ... Josh Johnson (elbow) will see Dr. James Andrews next Tuesday ...