Thor Nystrom

Week That Was

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Week That Was: May Day!

Sunday, August 10, 2014


  • Trevor May froze up under the bright lights of O.co Coliseum in his major league debut on Saturday, chattering his teeth through two brutal innings in which he walked seven batters. Of his 63 pitches, only 28 went for strikes. In the end, as adrenaline drenched his delivery in excess verve, May gave up four runs, allowing three hits and striking out none. He walked in two runs. It was an ugly, ugly outing—I watched every gruesome pitch between my fingers—but it doesn’t really change anything. This was an awful matchup for May, a green pitcher whose command isn’t always sharp going against a tough, grinding lineup which ranks No. 7 in MLB in on-base percentage and leads baseball in scoring. At this point in his development, May, a prospect a little outside top-100 consideration, is susceptible to outings like this. His arsenal of a good tumbling fastball, quality changeup, and in-development curve is solid but not overpowering. He’s improved his control from his days of excessive wildness, but May struggles to repeat his delivery and his balls jump on him when his mechanics clutch up. When good-but-not great stuff isn’t spotted in the pros, hitters will simply lay off pitches out of the zone and wait until balls drift over the heart. I still believe in May as a dynasty league proposition, and I may just try to make a buy-low offer on him this week, while this stinker is fresh in everyone’s nostrils. There’s no chance May develops into an ace, and very little chance he develops into a No. 2, but he belongs in the big leagues after proving himself at every level of the minors. So long as the Twins don’t use Saturday night as an excuse to exile May to Triple-A again (he had a 2.93 ERA and 91/37 K/BB ratio in 95 innings there, guys—seriously, he’s good), I still think he’s worth the risk in AL-only leagues.  

 

  • Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said he’ll wait a few days before deciding if Andrew McCutchen needs a stint on the disabled list. McCutchen was expected to miss approximately 3-4 weeks with a fractured rib (an avulsion fracture involving the costochondral cartilage of his left 11th rib, if you want to get technical, Dr. House), but everybody involved is hoping the superstar can gut through the pain. Injuries of the avulsion typically don’t require surgery, with rehab calling for resting and giving the inflammation time to subside. The injury is similar to an oblique injury, and those usually require around four weeks to heal. It would be a shock if McCutchen avoids the DL. It would also give further evidence to the case being made that he is an alien.

 

  • Brian McCann took a Mike Aviles foul ball off the mask in Friday's win over the Indians. Diagnosed with a mild concussion, the Yankees placed the catcher on the 7-day disabled list the next day. In a corresponding move, catcher Austin Romine was summoned from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. McCann can’t wait for this nightmare season, his first in New York, to conclude. He’s batting just .238 with 13 home runs and 49 RBIs in 103 games. Francisco Cervelli will take most of the at-bats while McCann is out, making him an AL-only plug-and-play this coming week if you’re desperate.

 

  • Michael Pineda is expected to rejoin the Yankees' rotation on Wednesday in Baltimore. He sat between 92 and 94 mph and had nice life on his slider during Friday’s rehab start with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He threw only 72 pitches—below the 90-pitch threshold the Yankees tentatively hoped he’d reach before activation—but David Phelps’ injury accelerated Pineda’s timeline, unless New York unexpectedly decides to give Esmil Rogers one more spot start.

 

  • Speaking of Yankees, Derek Jeter’s sixth-inning infield single off Corey Kluber on Saturday at Yankee Stadium gave him career hit No. 3,431 and sole possession of sixth place on the all-time hits list. The slow roller that Lonnie Chisenhall couldn’t handle moved Jeter past Hall of Famer Honus Wagner (3,430).

 

  • Shortly after Joe Nathan blew his sixth save of the season—allowing a run on two hits and two walks to the Blue Jays while collecting just one out—Tigers manager Brad Ausmus repeated Saturday that he's sticking with the veteran as closer. Because whenever you can keep trotting out a 39-year-old with a 5.18 ERA and 1.46 WHIP to protect leads for a World Series favorite, you have to do it. Joakim Soria’s indoctrination into Tigers’ baseball hasn’t gone as swimmingly as hoped—he’s coughed up six runs (five earned) over 4 1/3 innings—and he might be headed to the disabled list after straining his side before Nathan blew the save on Saturday. All of this and more make Joba Chamberlain (2.93 ERA) Detroit’s best reliever. Chamberlain should be closing games yesterday, but I don’t anticipate Ausmus yanking Nathan out of the ninth inning all season. If it hasn’t happened yet, what exactly could change his mind? A 10-run, no-out appearance? A stint in which Nathan refuses to throw overhand? Nathan publicly announcing his heart has always been in Minnesota and he’s been acting as a team-destroying mole all year?

 

  • George Springer suffered an unfortunate setback on Wednesday when he aggravated his left quadriceps muscle while playing in his final scheduled rehab game. The 24-year-old outfielder, out since July 23, won’t return until mid-August at the earliest.

 

  • Javier Baez, ranked as Baseball America’s No. 7 prospect in the game during its midseason update, finished his first week in the majors with a fun .261/.261/.696 slash line (three homers, a double and no walks in 23 at-bats). Promoted by the Cubs on Tuesday, the 21-year-old top prospect started quickly by banging out a 12th-inning homer in his major league debut, a win over the Rockies. He’s had one of the fastest bats in professional baseball ever since he was drafted, but you know by now that Baez has the patience of a Michael Bay screenplay: His 350/88 K/BB ratio in the minors, against pitchers nowhere near as talented as he is, begins to tell the story. You can lament a lack of pitch selection, or you can appreciate one of the truly unique bat-to-ball-with-power offensive profiles we’ve seen in a while. In a society that cared about nothing expect slashing the recidivism rate, criminals would stand on home plate with hands extended to the heavens as Baez took a fraction of a second to reform them.

 

  • As the Cubs broke in one top prospect last week, they also attempted to provide a soft landing spot for a former top prospect not so long ago considered a future front-line starter. Chicago acquired SP Jacob Turner from the Marlins for minor league pitchers Jose Arias and Tyler Bremer. Turner was awful with Miami in 2014, going 4-7 with a 5.97 ERA in 20 games (12 starts). The Cubs brass obviously feels that a change of scenery could turn Turner around, and Chicago manager Rick Renteria will take heat off the 23-year-old by pitching him out of the bullpen initially. For two non-prospects, the Turner acquisition is juice worth the squeeze.

 

  • Jeremy Hellickson held the A’s to one run on two hits over seven innings on Wednesday, giving him a 2.61 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 14/5 K/BB ratio in 20 2/3 innings over four starts since rejoining the Rays’ rotation on July 8.  Hellickson made a lot of enemies in the fantasy community during an awful 2013 campaign (5.17 ERA). Forgiveness can be restorative, friend: Even counting last season’s struggles, the 27-year-old Iowa native boasts a 3.66 career ERA over 597 innings. He should be owned in all but shallow mixed leagues.

 

  • Carlos Carrasco returns to Cleveland’s rotation Sunday when he makes a start against the Yankees. I’ve long been a believer in his arm talent and will be on board in AL-only formats as the rollercoaster fires up again. Carrasco obviously has a major league arm and an arsenal perfectly suited for the bullpen—but will he ever figure out how to translate it into fooling hitters the second and third time through a big league lineup (he’s allowed an insane .986 opponent’s OPS in the fourth inning during his career, for example)? This is a guy with closer-like career numbers out of the bullpen (2.06 ERA, 0.92 WHIP) and Home Run Derby pitcher numbers out of the rotation (10-22, 5.66 ERA). In fantasy, I’ll always go down with the talent ship. Carrasco shouldn’t be near a mixed league roster, but back-end AL-only roster spots are inherently worth so little that it’s a punted opportunity cost not to at least roster him prior to Sunday’s outing. And not for nothing: Carrasco has a 2.30 ERA in bullpen work since he was removed from the rotation in late April.

 

  • A.J. Pollock (hand) is close to returning to the Diamondbacks’ lineup. Add him in mixed leagues.

 

  • Red Sox outfielders Allen Craig (foot) and Shane Victorino (back) were both placed on the disabled list last week. Craig believes it’s a minor injury from which he can return this season, but the same foot cost him two months last season. Victorino, on the other hand, has played in his last game of 2014. The rebuilding Red Sox sent him home early with bulging discs. Victorino is under contract for $13 million next season—one wonders how much Boston might be willing to eat over the winter in order to clear at-bats in a mobbed outfield situation.

 

  • The Nationals claimed left-handed specialist Matt Thornton off waivers from the Yankees.

 

  • Rumored for a few days to be closing in on an arrangement to return to Baltimore, recently released Oakland reliever Jim Johnson agreed to a minor league contract with the Tigers.

 

  • Wil Myers, out since late May with a fractured right wrist, began a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Durham on Saturday. He could be back within the week.



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