Heading into Tuesday’s action, Billy Hamilton had been the second-most valuable hitter in fantasy over the last 30 days. He certainly didn’t do anything to diminish that ranking in the doubleheader sweep of the Cubs.
Hamilton went 4-for-8 with two runs scored, two RBI and two stolen bases against the Cubs Tuesday, notching a walk-off single in the second game to complete a big comeback. That came after he drove in a career-high four runs against the Cubbies on Monday.
Many questioned coming into the season whether Hamilton would be able to hit enough to hold down a job, and those people felt justified early on after the 23-year-old batted only .140/.178/.209 over his first 12 games. Since then, however, Hamilton is hitting .303 with five homers, 36 RBI, 41 runs scored and 35 stolen bases over 72 contests.
The hot stretch has pulled Hamilton to within five steals of league leader Dee Gordon, and he’s showing that a low on-base percentage (.312) isn’t going to keep him from being an elite fantasy performer (assuming, of course, that you’re not in an OBP league).
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Masterson, Cole Placed on DL
It’s been an awful season for Justin Masterson no matter how you slice it. It got worse Tuesday when the big right-hander was placed on the disabled list.
Masterson has been pitching through a right knee injury since his second start of the season, and the Indians finally decided that enough was enough. The righty has put up a 5.51 ERA over 19 outings and has seen his average fastball velocity, according to Fangraphs.com, drop from 91.6 mph last season to 89.0 mph this year. There’s little doubt that the knee has surely contributed greatly to his struggles.
"Masty's first inclination was wanting to pitch through it, which I think we respect," manager Terry Francona told MLB.com. "We thought, we DL him, get him some treatment for the first couple days, whatever he needs with his knee. Then, when he feels good, almost treat it like Spring Training with [pitching coach Mickey Callaway], going every other day off the mound once he's able to handle that physically, just to get the repetition. That's our best way to get him back on track."
The Indians will call up either Zach McAllister or Danny Salazar to start on Saturday against the White Sox. Salazar, who has righted the ship at Triple-A Columbus of late with a 3.26 ERA and 25 strikeouts over 19 1/3 frames, would be the preferred option from a fantasy standpoint. McAllister has also pitched well of late with a 2.23 ERA and 34 whiffs across 36 1/3 innings.
The Pirates lost to the Cardinals on a walk-off homer for the second straight night Tuesday, but the bigger loss came earlier in the day.
Gerrit Cole was lifted from Friday's start against the Phillies after five innings due to tightness in his right lat, and although the Pirates waited it out a couple days to see how he recovered, they wound up placing the right-hander on the DL Tuesday. Cole was making just his second start since returning from a shoulder injury. The Pirates are saying it’s an entirely different ailment, but they plan to proceed more cautiously with Cole this time around.
"There will be a rehab start involved down the line [this time]," manager Clint Hurdle told MLB.com. "We want him to understand that when he comes back, we want to give him an opportunity to thrive, not just survive, and pitch instinctively so he can go out and be the Gerrit Cole we've seen in the past. I don't think that's far away."
Cole actually resumed throwing on Tuesday with some light catch and Hurdle said a throwing program for the righty should be mapped out Wednesday. However, it sounds like there’s a good chance he’ll miss more than three weeks of action this time around.
The Pirates did get some good news Tuesday, as Francisco Liriano (oblique) was cleared to rejoin the rotation over the weekend. He should help soften the blow a bit from the loss of Cole, though the lefty did put up an uninspiring 4.60 ERA over 14 outings before being injured. Brandon Cumpton will be promoted Wednesday to fill Cole’s spot.
Reds Shut Down Votto
They held out as long as they could, but the Reds finally caved and put Joey Votto and his ailing left leg on the disabled list Tuesday.
Votto is dealing with a distal quad strain in his left knee, which is the same injury that kept him out of action from mid-May to mid-June. The first baseman was clearly not himself after returning, hitting just .250 with no home runs and 11 RBI over 23 games.
"We did a full workup on Joey yesterday," manager Bryan Price said Tuesday to MLB.com. "There's definitely more soreness and a continued issue with it. It's something that he's just not going to be able to play on. Our plan of attack will be to do everything we can to get him back to be able to play over the course of the year. I don't have a timetable on how long that will be, but the goal is to get him back and able to help us before the year is out."
Price added that the ailment is “probably not a 10- to 15-day issue," which seems quite obvious at this point. The Reds are in a bit of a bind with Votto out, as they plan to use backup catcher Brayan Pena as their main first baseman while Votto is on the shelf. Jay Bruce has started at first base two out of the last three games and will continue to see some time there. The Reds could also use Ryan Ludwick at first, a position he’s never played in 16 years as a professional.
National League Quick Hits: The Dodgers placed Josh Beckett (hip) on the disabled list Tuesday, but he’s expected to miss only one start ... Addison Reed served up his ninth homer of the season and took his fifth blown save in Tuesday’s loss to the Marlins ... Vidal Nuno tossed seven shutout innings in his Arizona debut Tuesday but lost out on a win thanks to Reed ... The Cubs will promote Arismendy Alcantara Wednesday but are expected to send him back down Friday ... Kolten Wong doubled in two runs and hit a walk-off solo homer in Tuesday’s win over the Pirates ... Jacob deGrom struck out 11 over seven scoreless innings in the Mets' win over the Braves Tuesday ... The Cardinals confirmed Tuesday that Jaime Garcia will undergo thoracic outlet syndrome surgery ... Ryan Braun (back) sat out his second game in three days Tuesday but could return Wednesday ... Carl Crawford (ankle) could be activated Thursday ...
American League Quick Hits: Ricky Nolasco has been diagnosed with flexor pronator stiffness in his right elbow and isn’t expected to be sidelined long ... Victor Martinez (side) missed a third straight start Tuesday, but the Tigers aren’t considering placing him on the DL yet ... Shane Victorino (back) has again been pulled off his minor league rehab assignment following another setback ... Chris Carter hit a pair of home runs in Tuesday’s win over the Rangers ... Sonny Gray whiffed eight over seven innings of one-run ball in a win over the Giants ... Phil Hughes struck out eight while tossing 7 1/3 shutout frames in Tuesday's win over the Mariners ... Lorenzo Cain finished 4-for-4 with a triple and two runs scored in Tuesday's loss to the Rays ... Conor Gillaspie singled, doubled, and belted a two-run home run in his return to the lineup Tuesday ... Michael Brantley notched his fifth consecutive multi-hit game, going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI doubles and a solo home run in Tuesday's win over the Yankees ... Multiple reports indicated that the Cardinals could be close to trading for Jake Peavy, but Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has shot down the rumors ... Dylan Bundy (elbow) will be limited to 75 pitches in each of his starts for the remainder of the 2014 season ...