David Shovein

Baseball Daily Dose

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Daily Dose: Oh No, Ohtani!

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Oh No, Ohtani!

On Wednesday, Angels’ star 23-year-old right-hander Shohei Ohtani had to be removed from his start against the Royals after just four innings due to a recurring blister on his right middle finger.

Jon Morosi of reported early in the day that Ohtani was expected to miss at least one start and that a trip to the disabled list was “possible”.

That, in and of itself, was bad news for fantasy owners. Ohtani has been terrific on the hill this season, registering a 3.10 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 61/20 K/BB ratio across 49 ⅓ innings in his first nine starts.

The news that came next, was far more concerning.

The Angels announced that Ohtani was placed on the disabled list with a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow.

Remember, that Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported during the Ohtani sweepstakes in December that Ohtani was dealing with a Grade 1 UCL sprain, so it has gotten progressively worse since then.

The right-hander was given platelet-rich plasma and stem cell injections Thursday and will be re-evaluated in three weeks.


He, and the Angels, are hopeful that he’ll be able to treat the injury with just rest and rehabilitation. We have seen this story play out too many times though to put too much faith in his ability to do so, at least long-term.

Angels' general manager Billy Eppler seemed optimistic that the rest and rehab route would prove to be fruitful though. He told reporters on Friday, "We're hopeful that he can... this is completely treatable with the biologic prescription that the doctors recommended."


While that sounds nice, the most likely scenario is that Ohtani will, at least at some point, require Tommy John surgery. Fantasy owners in redraft leagues need to hope that it's not required this year.

Angels' manager Mike Scioscia seemed to take the news in stride on Friday, admitting "Naturally, it's a disappointment, but you keep going. Just like we're losing Andrelton [Simmons] for a little bit, you keep going. The schedule doesn't stop, and you can't take a timeout. We know that he was doing a lot of special things for us, but we've got to absorb it and move on."

Whether they were able to rally around that news or not, the Angels went out and won their fifth consecutive game on Friday, defeating the Twins 4-2 on the strength of home runs from Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton. They now sit at 36-28 on the season, though that's only good for third place and 4.5 games back of the Mariners in the ultra-competitive American League West and 3.5 games out of the Wild Card.

The Angels are going to have to rely on their starting pitching depth if they're going to maintain this pace without Ohtani for the foreseeable future.

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Strasburg Sidelined

The Washington Nationals are the class of the National League East. They have won three consecutive division titles, five in the last seven seasons. The strength of their team has long been their tremendous starting rotation, anchored by star right-handers Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.

One of those pillars of the starting rotation may be crumbling.

On Friday night, Strasburg had to be removed from his start against the Giants after just two innings due to what the Nationals are calling “right shoulder inflammation”.

The 29-year-old right-hander will undergo an MRI on Saturday to determine the severity of the injury. Strasburg wasn’t optimistic when asked about it after his start though, nothing that it’s something that has been bothering him for his past couple of starts.

It seems likely that Strasburg will be heading back to the disabled list, a place that he has frequented often during his nine-year MLB career.

What’s frustrating for Nationals’ fans, and fantasy owners alike, is that Strasburg had been pitching extremely well prior to Friday’s injury. Over his previous six starts, he had compiled a 2.77 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 50/9 K/BB ratio across 39 innings.

The Nationals currently find themselves in a dead heat with the Braves in the race for the National League East crown. Now they’ll need to remain afloat without Strasburg for an indeterminate amount of time. They’re also already without Jeremy Hellickson due to a hamstring strain, so their starting pitching depth will definitely come into play over the next several weeks.

Surviving a Scare

As big league stars seem to be dropping left and right due to injuries, the Dodgers had a scare of their own to deal with on Friday night.

Prized young right-hander Walker Buehler carried a perfect game into the fifth inning against the Braves, until Nick Markakis singled. He would come around to score on an RBI double by Kurt Suzuki before Buehler worked his way out of the inning.

He was seen talking to the training staff though prior to his at-bat in the bottom half of the fifth inning, with piqued the curiosity of many onlookers.

The 23-year-old then experienced a precipitous drop in velocity during the top half of the sixth inning. His final two fastballs were clocked at 91.9 and 92.2 mph, which is nearly four miles per hour slower than his average fastball.

That got Dodgers’ skipper Dave Roberts and the training staff out of the dugout, where the decision was then made to pull Buehler from the game.

Thankfully, we appear to have dodged a bullet with this one. The Dodgers announced that the reason for his departure was due to soreness in his ribs, which may be a result of getting hit by a line drive a couple of weeks ago.

Buehler has been outstanding through his first nine starts this season, posting a 2.63 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 54/11 K/BB ratio over 51 ⅓ innings. He has definitely proven that he belongs at this level and as long as he remains healthy he should be a fixture in the Dodgers’ rotation for the next several seasons.

American League Quick Hits: Zach Britton (Achilles) could be activated from the disabled list as early as Monday, though he’s expected to be eased back into his ninth-inning role… Carlos Rodon will rejoin the White Sox’ rotation on Saturday against the Red Sox… Kevin Kiermaier (thumb) took swings on Friday for the first time since landing on the disabled list with a torn ligament in his right thumb. He’ll begin a minor league rehab assignment on Tuesday and expects to rejoin the Rays around June 20… J.D. Martinez sat out Friday’s game due to back spasms. He’s expected to return to the lineup on Saturday… Josh Donaldson (calf) is still expected to return from the disabled list at some point over the weekend… The Angels’ recalled Jose Miguel Fernandez from Triple-A Salt Lake, and he could see substantial playing time while Shohei Ohtani is sidelined… Avisail Garcia (hamstring) will begin his minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte on Tuesday… Elvis Andrus (elbow) is on track to be activated from the disabled list on June 18… Aaron Judge suffered a jammed thumb while sliding into second base during a victory over the Mets. He remained in for the duration of Friday’s game but will be re-evaluated on Saturday… Masahiro Tanaka had to leave Friday’s battle against the Mets after five innings due to stiffness in both of his hamstrings… Chris Sale racked up 10 strikeouts over eight innings of one-run ball in a tough-luck loss against the White Sox… Dylan Covey struck out seven over seven shutout innings in that victory over the Red Sox… Trevor Bauer punched out 12 over eight innings of one-run ball in a win against the Tigers… Jason Kipnis belted a go-ahead three-run homer in the ninth inning to defeat the Tigers… Brett Gardner swatted a go-ahead two-run homer off of Jacob deGrom in the eighth inning to sink the Mets… Jose Altuve belted his fifth home run, all of which have come in the last 13 games, as the Astros topped the Rangers… Justin Verlander improved to 8-2 with a victory over the Rangers… Edwin Diaz recorded the final four outs against the Rays to earn his league-leading 22nd save… Khris Davis crushed a pair of home runs, his 16th and 17th of the season, as the A’s topped the Royals… Frankie Montas delivered another terrific start, allowing two runs over 7 ⅔ innings against the Royals. He’s now 3-0 with a minuscule 1.25 ERA…

National League Quick Hits: Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reported that the Mets will consider listening to trade offers for both Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard if they fall out of playoff contention… The Mets placed closer Jeurys Familia on the 10-day disabled list on Friday with right shoulder soreness. With A.J. Ramos also on the shelf, Robert Gsellman and Anthony Swarzak are likely to share the closing duties… Yoenis Cespedes (hip) began his minor league rehab assignment at Double-A Binghamton on Friday… Adam Eaton (ankle) is expected to be activated from the disabled list prior to Saturday’s game… Noah Syndergaard will not make his scheduled start on Sunday after his right index finger swelled up after playing catch on Friday… Major League Baseball suspended Padres’ left-hander Jose Torres for the remainder of the 2018 season for violating the league’s domestic violence policy… Phillies’ skipper Gabe Kapler said that “it’s not out of the question” that Rhys Hoskins could be activated from the disabled list on Saturday… Johnny Cueto (elbow) threw a successful 35-pitch bullpen session on Friday… Kris Bryant went 3-for-4 and scored a run in his first ever start out of the leadoff spot in Friday’s victory over the Pirates… Justin Turner (wrist) is expected to return to the Dodgers’ lineup on Sunday… Dylan Cozens was forced to leave Friday’s game with tightness in his left quadriceps. He’s considered day-to-day… Juan Soto smacked his third home run as the Nationals fell to the Giants… Ryan Braun homered twice and drove in five runs, leading the Brewers in a 12-4 rout over the Phillies… Caleb Smith spun 5 ⅓ shutout innings in a win over the Padres… Paul Goldschmidt continued his hot-hitting, goin 3-for-5 with two homers and a double as the Diamondbacks beat the Rockies… Jose Martinez homered twice and drove in four runs as the Cardinals beat the Reds in extra innings… Cody Bellinger homered for the fourth consecutive game and swiped a pair of bases as the Dodgers beat the Braves… Yasmani Grandal blasted two home runs in that game as well.

Dave Shovein is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveShovein.
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