The Cubs were dealt a tough blow on Wednesday when MRI results revealed that Starlin Castro is dealing with a high left ankle sprain and will miss the remainder of the 2014 season. He sustained the injury on Tuesday night after his leg got caught awkwardly underneath him while sliding into home plate.
The 24-year-old shortstop bounced back in a big way after a tremendously disappointing 2013 season, slashing .292/.339/.438 with 14 homers, 65 RBI and 58 runs scored in 134 games this year after batting .245/.284/.347 last year. He didn’t make any strides with his strikeout/walk rate (100/35) and only swiped four bases in eight attempts on the season, but there are plenty of positives to take away from his 2014 campaign.
The Cubs will utilize Javier Baez at his natural position for the remainder of the 2014 season before having to make some difficult decisions heading into next year. Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer has already stated publicly that Castro will enter the 2015 season as the team’s starting shortstop, but it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see him dealt over the winter. Elite shortstop prospect Addison Russell -- acquired from the A's in the Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel trade -- is also knocking on the door.
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Salazar Shuts Out Tigers
Danny Salazar hurled the first shutout of his major league career on Wednesday, scattering just eight hits in his masterful outing against a good Tigers offense. The 24-year-old right-hander punched out nine on the evening and didn’t walk a batter. He maintained exceptional velocity throughout the start, consistently hitting 97 mph in his final inning of work. He is currently in the midst of a 17-inning scoreless streak, dating back to his third inning of work against the Astros on August 23.
Salazar has been outstanding since returning to the Tribe rotation, compiling a 2.30 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 45/11 K/BB ratio over 47 frames. He, and the rest of the stellar pitching that the Indians have received from their youthful and inexperienced rotation, have kept Cleveland's playoff aspirations alive into the season’s final month. Salazar should keep rewarding fantasy owners who stayed loyal.
Rockies Extend De La Rosa
The Rockies reached an agreement with veteran southpaw Jorge De La Rosa on a two-year, $25 million contract extension on Wednesday. De La Rosa almost assuredly could have landed a more lucrative deal on the open market, but appears to prefer staying in his comfortable surroundings in Colorado. Since arriving from the Royals in 2008, he has posted a 68-44 record, 4.24 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 723/343 K/BB ratio over 834 2/3 innings, primarily as the ace of the Rockies staff.
The fact that he has mostly thrived in such a difficult environment for pitching makes it a smart signing for the Rockies. De La Rosa owns a 9-2 record, 3.19 ERA and 1.16 WHIP over 13 starts at Coors Field in 2014. That's truly terrific.
American League Quick Hits: Brian McCann went 4-for-4 with a homer and three RBI in a victory over the Red Sox… Yu Darvish is set to have his troubled right elbow examined by team doctors on Thursday… Felix Hernandez hurled eight innings of one-run ball to secure his 14th victory… Chris Archer was blasted for the second straight start (six runs in six innings) in a loss to the Blue Jays… Aaron Sanchez picked up his second save with a scoreless inning against the Rays, and could be used more frequently in save situations moving forward… Edwin Encarnacion belted his 29th homer of the season as the Jays topped the Rays… Carlos Santana homered for the second consecutive game to lead the Indians over the Tigers… The Red Sox expect Rusney Castillo to debut before the end of the 2014 season… Stephen Vogt is considered day-to-day with a sprained left ankle… The Astros remain optimistic that George Springer (quad) will return before the end of the season… Joakim Soria (oblique) threw a successful 25-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday… Alex Avila (head) passed his concussion protocol, but remains day-to-day.
National League Quick Hits: Giancarlo Stanton swatted his 36th home run of the season, tying him for the Major League lead… Kyle Hendricks picked up his sixth victory and owns a 2.02 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 34/12 K/BB ratio over his first 10 starts… Adam LaRoche homered and collected five RBI in a marathon victory over the Dodgers… Corey Dickerson blasted a pair of homers in a victory over the Giants and now has 22 on the season… Angel Pagan (back) was scratched from Wednesday’s lineup but isn’t expected to miss any additional time… Jorge Soler has now hit safely in each of his first seven games with the Cubs… Tom Koehler racked up 10 strikeouts in a no-decision against the Mets… Bobby Parnell has begun throwing from a distance of 60 feet as he recovers from Tommy John surgery… Justin Turner had three hits including a home run in an extra-inning loss to the Nationals… Zack Cozart is considered day-to-day with a sore right wrist… The Diamondbacks are transitioning to a six-man rotation, with Randall Delgado slated to start on Thursday against the Padres… Yusmeiro Petit will remain in the Giants rotation, with Tim Lincecum continuing to work out of the bullpen... Josh Beckett (hip) is unlikely to return this season… Travis Snider (hamstring) is expected to return to the Pirates lineup over the weekend.