Nathan Grimm

Baseball Daily Dose

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Dose: M's Spring For Leake

Thursday, August 31, 2017


For one team, Wednesday's Mike Leake trade signified a push for the postseason.

For the other, it may have signified the opposite.

The Cardinals dealt Leake to the Mariners, along with reportedly $17 million in cash and approximately $750,000 in international slot money, for minor league infielder Rayder Ascanio. Ascanio is a 21-year-old non-prospect.

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said he hopes his team, which is two games out of a Wild Card spot in the American League, takes the move as a "vote of confidence" in their postseason chances.

"Mike gives us an experienced starter that will help us as we navigate our way toward a playoff spot this season," Dipoto said. "As one of the most durable starters over most of the last decade, he'll be a valuable addition for not just the near future, but for seasons to come."

The 29-year-old Leake is an upgrade for a Mariners team starting the likes of Marco Gonzales -- who was actually dealt to the M's by the Cardinals in a pre-non-waiver deadline trade -- and Andrew Albers in the absence of stalwarts Felix Hernandez, James Paxton and Hisashi Iwakuma, but how much of an upgrade remains to be seen. Leake started the year like a house on fire but has been largely bad in the season's second half, resulting in a 4.21 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in 26 starts overall.

Even so, some of Leake's Cardinals teammates weren't pleased with the move -- both in a vacuum and what it means for the rest of 2017. Cardinals president John Mozeliak said the move was made in part because the team wants to "start (its) younger track of pitching moving forward" but also said it's not a white flag for this season.

“I still think we expect to compete," Mozeliak said. "We’re just going to do it with a different name and a different face.”

That name and face, it was revealed later Wednesday, will be top prospect Jack Flaherty, at least for one start. The 21-year-old, who owns a 2.18 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 147/35 K/BB ratio over 25 minor league starts this year, will make his MLB debut Friday against the Giants.

He's already thrown 148 2/3 innings this year, after throwing 134 all of last season, but Flaherty is worth a flyer in mixed leagues for as long as the Cards decide to roll with him.

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Harper 'A Long Ways From Running'

An update on Bryce Harper's recovery brought less-than-exciting news Wednesday.

Harper, who has been out since August 13 due to a bone bruise in his left knee and calf strain in his left leg, is "a long ways from running," according to Nationals manager Dusty Baker. Harper said he's been relegated to calf raises in the early days of his recovery.

“If I wasn’t an athlete and was just an average person, I probably wouldn’t even be on it and doing anything,” Harper said. “I’m thankful enough to be able to have a strong unit in there in the training staff to come in there every day and work hard and be able to do the things I need to do around my body that take a little stress off the knee area and calf area and certain things that can speed up recovery and speed up those places around it that I can be stronger again. When I come back I don’t have to rely on one muscle or one thing in my body to keep me going, I can rely on everything. That’s what we’re doing right now.”

There's so much uncertainty, which may border on doubt, about Harper's ability to return during the regular season that Baker said he's playing Jayson Werth, who also just recently returned from injury, in right field in preparation for Harper not being available the rest of the season and into the postseason.

"I hate the thought of him not being around, but you’ve gotta make those plans whether we like it or not," Baker said. "Before we holler ‘doomsday,’ we’ve got a month to go and then we’ll see.”

Buxton Exits With Hand Injury

The surging Twins are holding their breath in hopes an injury scare is just that for one of their brightest stars.

Byron Buxton, who has been at the forefront of the resurgence for the team that's won nine of its last 13 games, left Wednesday's game after his hand slipped off his bat on a swing, according to MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger. Twins manager Paul Molitor said the outfielder will be re-evaluated Thursday morning.

Losing the 23-year-old for any amount of time would be a blow to the Minnesota club. After struggling in recent years to gain traction at the major league level, Buxton was hitting .327/.358/.634 with eight homers, 22 RBI, 22 runs scored and eight steals in the month of August heading into Wednesday's game.

More should be known Thursday.

National League Quick Hits: Dodgers activated 1B Cody Bellinger from the 10-day disabled list. Bellinger needed just one minor league rehab game -- he cranked a three-run home run in that one, to boot -- before he was ready to rejoin the Dodgers. He missed the minimum 10 days on the disabled list while rehabbing from a minor right ankle sprain ... Yadier Molina (abdomen) was back in the Cardinals' starting lineup on Wednesday. Molina was a late scratch Tuesday after feeling some discomfort in his abdomen, but it was clearly nothing serious ... Travis Shaw (foot) was not in the Brewers' starting lineup on Wednesday against the Cardinals. Shaw made an early exit from Tuesday's blowout loss with lingering discomfort in his right foot. It's a day-to-day situation ... Carlos Gonzalez (ankle) was back in the Rockies' starting lineup Wednesday against the Tigers. CarGo was held out of Tuesday's starting lineup due to a sore left ankle, but he appeared as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the seventh inning and hit a go-ahead RBI sac fly as Colorado went on to win 7-3 ... Tyler Flowers is headed back to Atlanta to have his wrist examined by the Braves' medical staff. Flowers took a foul tip off the wrist during Monday's series opener against the Phillies and he was officially placed on the disabled list Wednesday morning, though a CT scan in Philadelphia turned up negative. There should be a clearer picture on his status by Thursday or Friday ... Stephen Strasburg was brilliant in Wednesday's 4-0 win over the Marlins, firing off a complete game shutout with eight strikeouts. Fantastic work from Strasburg on the afternoon. Not only did he punch out eight batters over his nine innings of work, he issued just one walk while scattering six hits. The 29-year-old right-hander threw 110 pitches (78 strikes) in the nine-inning effort. Oh, and he also smacked a solo homer in the bottom of the fifth. When you're feeling it, you're feeling it ... Rafael Montero hurled 8 1/3 shutout frames to guide his team to a 2-0 win over the Reds on Wednesday. He struck out eight batters and took a one-hitter into the ninth inning in the dominant outing against one of the better offenses in the league. He made it look easy for eight innings before running out of gas in the final frame. He was relieved after loading the bases on two hits and a walk. Closer A.J. Ramos then stranded Montero's runners by striking out the final two batters to preserve the shutout.

American League Quick Hits: Mike Trout (neck) was back in the lineup for Wednesday's game against the A's. Trout sat out the past two days with a stiff neck after running into the outfield wall in Sunday's series finale against the Astros. He didn't show any signs of injury, tripling and homering in Wednesday's game ... Miguel Cabrera (back) remained out of the Tigers' starting lineup Wednesday versus the Rockies. Cabrera left Monday's series opener at Coors Field with lingering tightness in his lower back and he hasn't played since. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus told reporters late Tuesday night that this back issue could be something Cabrera is "going to have to deal with the rest of his career" ... Yulieski Gurriel was lifted from Wednesday's game against the Rangers due to right knee soreness. Gurriel appeared to suffer the injury while running to second on a double in the second inning. He stayed in the game for two more frames before being replaced in the field in the fifth inning. Consider him day-to-day for the time being ... Justin Verlander worked six innings of one-run ball Wednesday in the Tigers' 6-2 victory over the Rockies. Another fine performance from the veteran right-hander, who now boasts a 2.25 ERA over his last 11 starts dating back to July 8. He also has 84 strikeouts over 76 innings in that span after whiffing nine Colorado hitters on Wednesday. Verlander, who isn't expected to be dealt ahead of the waiver trade deadline, allowed just three hits and one walk ... Jonathan Schoop went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI as the Orioles defeated the Mariners 8-7 on Wednesday afternoon in Baltimore. Schoop hit a solo blast off Mariners starter Ariel Miranda in the bottom of the fifth inning and he drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth. The 25-year-old second baseman is now batting .306/.353/.544 with 30 home runs and 99 RBI in 131 games this season for the Orioles ... Greg Bird went 2-for-4 with a three-run home run and four total RBI in the second game of Wednesday's doubleheader against the Indians. Bird was the Yankees' entire offense in this one. He picked up an RBI single in the first inning and bookended that base knock with a three-run home run in the ninth. Alas for the home faithful, that three-run dinger only drew the Yankees to within 9-4. The home run was Bird's first extra-base hit since being activated from the 10-day disabled list this past Friday ... Andrew Cashner allowed just one run in eight innings to beat the Astros 8-1 on Wednesday. The Astros have scored more runs than any other team in the majors this season but they couldn't get anything going against Cashner tonight. He surrendered a run on a sacrifice fly in the second inning and that was it. He gave up just three base hits and did not issue a free pass ... David Phelps left Wednesday's game against the Orioles due to discomfort in his right elbow. Phelps felt something in his elbow after issuing a walk to load the bases in the sixth inning. This bout of discomfort is potentially concerning, as Phelps missed time this month due to a right elbow impingement before being activated from the disabled list last week. He will be reevaluated on Thursday.



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



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