Nathan Grimm

Baseball Daily Dose

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Daily Dose: Vanishing Velocity

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


This is why we can't have nice things.

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In a season dominated by elbow this and forearm that, Yordano Ventura remained one of the few pitchers healthy and talented enough to register triple digits on stadium radar guns. His right arm represented excitement at a time when baseball needed things to get excited about. He was the sport's last, best hope at survival.

OK, that may be a bit much, but Ventura has been one of the more exciting young players to emerge this season, which makes Monday's development concerning for the Royals and baseball fans alike. Ventura left his start in the third inning of Monday's game with "lateral elbow discomfort," a diagnosis that will require an MRI on the elbow on Tuesday.

The injury diagnosis came shortly after the fireballer was spotted hitting 91 mph with his fastball, a pitch that usually sits in the high 90s and touches 100 mph with frequency. His last pitch of the game, a 94 mph fastball to Jose Altuve, would be considered an accomplishment for teammate Bruce Chen, but for Ventura it was a warning sign. Something was wrong.

The 22-year-old began the season in dominating fashion, owning a 1.50 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 30 innings over his first five starts, but he'd fallen on some tougher times in recent starts. With Monday's result, Ventura has lost four straight decisions and hasn't recorded a win since April 25. He's seen his ERA jump to 3.45, and the Royals' woeful run support hasn't done him any favors, either.

More should be known after Tuesday's MRI, but there seems to be a good chance that Ventura needs at least a 15-day stint on the disabled list. With the aforementioned Chen also on the mend, the Royals may be thin in options to replace Ventura for any starts missed. Danny Duffy, who has been filling in during Chen's absence, certainly stands to benefit from any missed time by a member of the Royals rotation. Beyond that, it's uncertain who the Royals could call on to bridge a gap.

Editor's Note: 
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Springer Has Sprung


Sure, George Springer was called up in mid-April, but make no mistake -- the 24-year-old has officially arrived.

Springer homered in his fourth straight game and went 4-for-4 with three RBI and five runs scored on Monday, putting an emphatic exclamation point on what's been a tremendous month with five days yet to go. With the huge game, Springer now has a .325 average with eight home runs, 19 runs scored and 21 RBI in May. If not for Edwin Encarnacion's absurd month, Springer would be the runaway favorite for the Player of the Month award.

It's a long way from where the outfielder's major league career began. Springer's first few weeks in the big leagues were noteworthy for their awful nature, as he batted just .182 (10-for-55) with no home runs and 19 strikeouts. The two-week stretch caused some fantasy owners to lose faith and cut Springer.

But those who showed patience have been rewarded. Springer's power isn't surprising after he hit 37 home runs between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Oklahoma City last season. What is surprising is his lack of a running game -- to go with the 37 homers, Springer stole 45 bases in the minor leagues last year. Through 35 games this season, he's got just one steal in three attempts.

With the impressive string of games, Springer has brought his season line up to .268/.348/.500. Any chances of buying low on the phenom may have officially evaporated around the time he crossed home plate for the fifth time Monday.

Buchholz Out Of BoSox Rotation?

The writing was on the wall for Clay Buchholz on Monday, and it may be written in pen on the lineup card later this week.

Buchholz struggled through another terrible outing on Monday, walking eight and allowing six runs in three innings of work, and after the game Red Sox manager John Farrell wouldn't commit to Buchholz making his next scheduled start. The poor outing left the right-hander with an unsightly 7.02 ERA, 1.98 WHIP and 39/24 K/BB ratio in 50 innings of work this year.

Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves isn't sure this is the real Clay Buchholz we're seeing.

“I wonder how healthy he is," Nieves said after Monday's game.

For his part, Buchholz claims it's just rust from last year's shoulder injury and not a current physical ailment. Still, the results say that, whether injury or ineffectiveness, Buchholz' hold on a rotation spot is slipping rapidly.

If so inclined, the Red Sox have a few options to replace Buchholz for a time. Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster appear to be the best options, as the pitchers own ERAs of 3.04 and 3.02, respectively, at Triple-A Pawtucket this season. In particular, De La Rosa, a power pitcher with a high ground ball rate, would make for an interesting flyer should he get a shot.

Farrell said no decision has been made as of yet.

“We’ve got to look at this a little bit closer,” Farrell said. “We’ve got to continue to talk about what (Buchholz is) currently going through and what’s best for him and what’s best for us.”

Stay tuned.

National League Quick Hits: A day after Josh Beckett threw the first no-hitter of 2014, teammate Hyun-Jin Ryu made a bid at the year's first perfect game. Ryu was perfect through seven innings before allowing three earned runs in the eighth inning against the Reds ... Walking advertisement for the futility of the pitcher win statistic Jeff Samardzija finally got in the win column on Monday. He struck out 10 while allowing three earned runs over seven innings against the Giants ... Cliff Lee (elbow) hasn't been cleared by doctors to resume throwing. He'll be re-evaluated in three days ... The Cubs activated Justin Ruggiano from the disabled list. He should return to a part-time role in the Cubs outfield ... The Mets recalled Vic Black to take the spot of Jose Valverde, who was released after Monday's game. Black could be a player to watch as the Mets continue to search for ninth inning options ...  A.J. Ellis was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right ankle sprain. He reportedly hurt the ankle celebrating Beckett's no-hitter on Sunday. Kendrys Morales is not impressed.

American League Quick Hits: Josh Hamilton (thumb) has been diagnosed with a bone bruise and will attempt to take batting practice Wednesday after another day off on Tuesday. The fear was that Hamilton might have re-injured the thumb, but it appears the setback is minor in nature ... Carlos Santana may be dealing with concussion symptoms after taking a foul tip off his catcher's mask on Sunday. Santana was scratched from Monday's lineup due to feeling under the weather. He'll likely have to pass a concussion test before returning to the field ... The Royals activated Omar Infante from the disabled list. Infante hasn't played since early May with back stiffness ... Derek Norris hit a grand slam among five Athletics home runs in Monday's demolition of the Tigers. Brandon Moss, Josh Donaldson, Kyle Blanks and Yoenis Cespedes also went deep ... Edwin Encarnacion hit his 15th home run of the season on Monday, his 13th in the month of May. I look forward to see what he's got in store for an encore come June.



Nathan Grimm is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. He can also be found on Twitter (@Nate_Grimm).
Email :Nathan Grimm



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