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Ryan Boyer

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Daily Dose: Heaney Hurls Gem

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


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Andrew Heaney’s last two starts came at Coors Field and against the Astros. He passed those stiff tests with flying colors.

 

Heaney limited the Rockies to two runs over six frames last week in Denver, but he saved his best outing of the season for Monday versus the defending World Series champs. The southpaw held Houston to just four hits and a walk over eight innings of one-run ball and tied a career high with 10 strikeouts. The Angels won 2-1 and Heaney picked up his second victory.

 

The left-hander’s season got off to an inauspicious start, as he began the year on the disabled list with elbow inflammation and then allowed 10 runs over his first two starts after being activated in mid-April. Heaney has righted the ship in a big way since then, though, posting a 1.80 ERA over his last four outings. He now boasts a 39/9 K/BB ratio over 34 1/3 innings this season.

 

Heaney’s career has been sidetracked by injury, but he’s obviously healthy now and has the pedigree of a former top prospect. The Angels’ six-man rotation isn’t necessarily ideal for fantasy goodness, but it could be beneficial for Heaney if it helps keep him on the field. The lefty has the potential for a breakout 2018 season.

 

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LeMahieu Lands Back on DL

 

The Rockies got DJ LeMahieu back from a strained hamstring a week ago. His return to the lineup didn’t last long.

 

LeMahieu was placed back on the disabled list Monday with a sprained left thumb, an injury that he suffered on Sunday during a plate appearance. It’s unclear at this point whether LeMahieu might need surgery, but if he does he would be sidelined for quite a while. Joe Panik, Eric Thames and Kevin Kiermaier have all suffered thumb UCL injuries this season and their timetables have ranged from 6-12 weeks.

 

The loss of LeMahieu is a significant one for fantasy owners. He’s put up a .279/.350/.457 batting line with five home runs and three stolen bases over 143 plate appearances this season. The impending free agent batted .319 from 2015-17 for the Rockies.

 

Pat Valaika was recalled to take LeMahieu’s spot on the roster. He and Daniel Castro shared playing time at second base when LeMahieu was out with his hamstring injury, and that should be the setup the Rockies use again, in the short-term, anyway. However, if LeMahieu is knocked out for a significant period of time, can they afford what’s likely to be little-to-no production at second base when their offense is already struggling?

 

The team does have some interesting potential options at second base should they choose to use them. Ryan McMahon started at second base for Triple-A Albuquerque on Monday for the fourth time in 12 games since his demotion. The 23-year-old has managed just a .174/.321/.203 batting line over 84 plate appearances at the major league level, but with the small sample size and inconsistent playing you might be willing to give him a pass. McMahon hit .355/.403/.583 with 20 homers and 11 steals for Albuquerque last season.

 

Another potential option to fill in, however unlikely, could be top prospect Brendan Rodgers. Rodgers started Monday’s game at Double-A Hartford at third base before moving over to second, marking his 11th appearance at the position this season. The 21-year-old is sporting a healthy .290/.336/.511 batting line with seven home runs, 27 RBI and four stolen bases for Hartford this season after he hit .336/.373/.567 with 18 dingers over just 89 games between High- and Double-A in 2017. While a Rodgers promotion at this point is surely a long shot, the possibility is worth bringing up since he’s one of the elite prospects in the game.

 

Halos Lose Closer

 

Angels manager Mike Scioscia refused to officially name Keynan Middleton his closer, but that’s exactly what the young right-hander has been in 2018 with six saves. Now the skipper will be looking for someone else to man the ninth inning.

 

An MRI on Monday revealed that Middleton has damage to the right ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow and he was placed back on the disabled list. The reliever just returned from a short DL stint last Thursday and evidently must have made his elbow injury worse during an appearance Sunday.

 

Middleton will receive a second opinion, but Tommy John surgery is a distinct possibility, if not the likeliest one. Even if the tear is relatively minor and Middleton choose the rest and rehab route, it’s going to be a while before we see him on a major league mound.

 

So who replaces Middleton? Monday offered some clarity… or did it?

 

Justin Anderson was given the save opportunity against the Astros and was able to protect a one-run lead. It didn’t come without a sweat, though.

 

Anderson allowed a leadoff single to George Springer, but Springer was thrown out trying to advance to second base on a flyout on a terrific throw by Kole Calhoun. Jose Altuve then singled and advanced to second base on a passed ball. Anderson intentionally walked Carlos Correa after falling behind him 3-1 but got Yuli Gurriel to ground out to end it.

 

Anderson received some buzz about possibly becoming the closer after Middleton initially went down, and he might have the best raw stuff of anyone in the Angels’ bullpen. However, just because he got the save chance Monday doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be Scioscia’s first choice to replace Middleton. Jim Johnson had pitched three of the last four days and threw 25 pitches Sunday, and Blake Parker and Cam Bedrosian both pitched Saturday and Sunday. It’s possible all three of them were unavailable.

 

Johnson nailed down a save on May 10 against the Twins with two strikeouts in a scoreless inning. The 34-year-old is certainly no safe bet, as he allowed four baserunners in his last appearance and had a stretch last month where he was scored upon in four straight outings. However, the veteran reliever has plenty of past closing experience and that could mean something to Scioscia.

 

Parker was brilliant in 2017, ended the season as the closer and notched the club’s first save of 2018 before quickly losing the job to Middleton. He had a rough spring training and beginning to the season but has rebounded of late, tossing 6 1/3 scoreless innings with a 9/2 K/BB ratio over his last six appearances.

 

Bedrosian converted a save chance late last month with Middleton unavailable, and he had the job for a period of time last season. However, Bedrosian also had a blown save earlier this month and has an unappealing 14/7 K/BB ratio over 18 innings.

 

Anderson being able to nail down the save Monday – however shaky – could mean something, but this closer situation might still be TBD.

 

 

American League Quick Hits: Major League Baseball has extended the administrative leave for Roberto Osuna through May 21 … Jeimer Candelario landed on the DL Monday with left wrist tendinitis … Niko Goodrum hit a pair of homers and drove in five runs in Monday’s win over the Indians … Whit Merrifield went 3-for-4 and homered for the Royals' lone run Monday against the Rays … Matt Olson singled and homered against the Red Sox in Monday's win … Twins manager Paul Molitor said that Miguel Sano (hamstring) was "not close to 100 percent" when doing some running Monday … The Royals placed Lucas Duda on the disabled list with right foot plantar fasciitis … Jake Odorizzi fanned seven across six shutout frames Monday against the Mariners … Miguel Cabrera has been experiencing soreness in his hips and back while receiving treatment and going through physical therapy for his strained right hamstring … Trevor Cahill (elbow) is expected to rejoin the Athletics' rotation Wednesday in Boston … The Indians are expected to make a decision whether to place Bradley Zimmer (chest) on the disabled list based on what is able to do in a workout Monday … Nicholas Castellanos (finger) missed a second straight start Monday but could be ready to return to the lineup Tuesday … Jason Castro will have surgery Tuesday to repair a torn right meniscus and will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks … The Yankees activated Brandon Drury from the DL and optioned him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre … Wade LeBlanc yielded just three hits over six shutout innings against the Twins Monday …

 

National League Quick Hits: A.J. Pollock was removed from Monday’s game against the Brewers with a sprained left thumb … Brandon Belt went 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBI in Monday’s win over the Reds … Ozzie Albies popped a solo home run among his three hits Monday against the Cubs … Joey Votto was removed from Monday's game against the Giants because of lower back tightness … Ryan Braun was a late scratch from the Brewers' lineup Monday due to right mid-back tightness … Madison Bumgarner threw a successful 20-pitch bullpen session Monday, his first time throwing off a mound since he fractured his left pinkie … Scott Schebler went 3-for-4 with a solo home run Monday in San Francisco … Albert Almora went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer in Monday's loss to the Braves … Alex Reyes (elbow) struck out 12 while yielding just one hit and two walks over five scoreless innings in a rehab start with Low-A Peoria on Monday … Anthony DeSclafani (oblique) struck out four over three perfect innings in his first rehab start with Double-A Pensacola on Monday … The Giants placed Alen Hanson on the DL Monday with a left hamstring strain …



Ryan Boyer is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. He can also be found on Twitter.
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