Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie left Monday’s 9-4 win over the Padres in the top of the eighth inning after appearing to injure his right thumb on a slide into home plate. He was sent back to Houston for an MRI on Tuesday morning, and the diagnosis is a rough one.
Lowrie has a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb that needs to be surgically repaired and he won’t return to the Astros’ active roster until sometime after the All-Star break. Marwin Gonzalez entered Monday’s game at short and he also got the start there Tuesday night. Jonathan Villar was promoted from Triple-A Fresno to give Houston some needed depth.
Villar has good speed and would take on some sudden fantasy value if given a regular role, but it seems like the Astros prefer Gonzalez as their primary shortstop for now. Top prospect Carlos Correa has only played 17 games above High-A ball, so we can probably rule out a promotion. But maybe that changes if Lowrie’s absence lingers deep into the second half.
“We do think there's value in spending more time at Double-A,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow told MLB.com late Tuesday when asked about a possible Correa callup. “At Triple-A, the pitching is better. It's closer to what it looks like in the big leagues. Carlos has done such a nice job. [Jose] Altuve was able to skip Triple-A completely, and I think Carlos may be able to, but right now it's something that we're discussing internally.”
Lowrie, 31, was batting .300/.432/.567 with four home runs, 10 RBI, and 11 runs scored in 70 plate appearances this season for the Astros, who beat the Padres again on Tuesday night and are off to an impressive 13-7 start. The injury bug always seems to come biting for Lowrie when he’s on the verge of something special.
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Cecil Slides Back Into Closer Role
Blue Jays reliever Brett Cecil was stripped of his ninth-inning role just a couple days into the 2015 regular season after blowing a save in ugly fashion on April 8 at Yankee Stadium. And while the 28-year-old left-hander still owns a rough 6.00 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in nine total appearances, Toronto is now turning the closer job back over to him in the wake of 20-year-old right-hander Miguel Castro’s recent implosion.
Castro was able to convert his first two save opportunities for the Blue Jays on April 9 and April 12, but he had allowed runs in four of his last five appearances and he looked especially awful in Toronto’s loss to the Red Sox on Monday night at Fenway Park. Castro will be kept away from high-leverage situations for a little while, with fellow 20-year-old Roberto Osuna moving into more of a prominent setup role.
Any pitcher in a position to get saves obviously carries significant fantasy value, and it’s a safe bet that Cecil’s numbers will begin to improve. He converted his first opportunity since reclaiming the closer gig on Tuesday night, striking out one batter in a scoreless ninth inning against the Red Sox. Cecil needs to be owned in all standard leagues, and Osuna -- the youngest pitcher in Blue Jays franchise history -- is a pretty good handcuff in deeper formats.
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More Arm Troubles For Tanaka
Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka was sent for an MRI on Tuesday morning after complaining of discomfort in his right wrist. The exam didn’t show any major structural damage in the wrist -- only some mild tendinitis -- but it did reveal a small muscle strain in his right forearm. This for a guy who has been trying to avoid Tommy John surgery since being diagnosed with a partially-torn UCL in his right elbow last July.
Tanaka will be placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday, and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman acknowledged that the Japanese right-hander will “conservatively” be out for at least a month. Chase Whitley figures to settle into a more permanent home in New York’s rotation. He posted a 5.23 ERA and 1.48 WHIP across 75 2/3 innings last season for the Yankees and shouldn’t be considered fantasy relevant. Look past his strong 2015 debut Tuesday night against the punchless Rays.
Tanaka, 26, boasts a 2.84 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 165/28 K/BB ratio in 158 2/3 career major league innings along with a win-loss record of 15-6. It’s a crying shame he’s become so prone to serious arm injuries.
National League Quick Hits: Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with a torn oblique … Joey Votto launched his seventh home run of the season to help the Reds take down the Brewers on Tuesday … Diamondbacks rookie Archie Bradley left his start Tuesday night against the Rockies after taking a Carlos Gonzalez line drive off the right side of his face … Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco remains day-to-day with a lingering hip impingement … Marlins closer Steve Cishek bounced back Tuesday to earn his second save of the season … Max Scherzer (thumb) was able to throw off a mound Tuesday without issue and expects to rejoin the Nationals’ rotation later this week … Dan Uggla went 3-for-5 with a triple, a homer, and five RBI in the Nationals’ incredible comeback win over the Braves on Tuesday ... Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez (hamstring) is hoping to return from the disabled list Saturday … Anthony Rendon (knee) has been eased off his minor league rehab assignment due to some mild soreness in his side … Gregory Polanco is day-to-day with a tweaked groin muscle … Mark Trumbo finished a double short of the cycle and tallied four RBI as the Diamondbacks earned a win versus the Rockies on Tuesday night … Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen (foot) will begin a rehab assignment with High-A Rancho Cucamonga on Friday … Rockies manager Walt Weiss expects Tyler Matzek (hamstring) to make his next start … Denard Span finished 5-for-6 with three doubles, a solo home run, and four runs scored Tuesday against the Braves … Cincinnati will call up right-hander Michael Lorenzen to start Wednesday against the Brewers … Dexter Fowler went 3-for-4 with two RBI and a stolen base in Tuesday's win over the Pirates … Tim Cooney will start for the Cardinals on Thursday afternoon against the Phillies.
American League Quick Hits: Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli (illness) is expected to miss another couple of games … A's right-hander Jesse Hahn (blister) has been cleared to start on Wednesday against the Angels … Jacoby Ellsbury singled three times and stole a pair of bases in Tuesday’s win over the Rays … Astros outfielder George Springer homered and racked up five total RBI in Tuesday’s rout of the Padres … Desmond Jennings remains day-to-day with a tweaked right knee … Hanley Ramirez tallied his ninth home run and 20th RBI of the season on Tuesday night against the Blue Jays … Royals DH Kendrys Morales went 3-for-5 with a double and a three-run home run in Tuesday's win over the Indians … Fernando Rodney worked a perfect ninth inning to earn his sixth save Tuesday in the Mariners’ defeat of the Rangers … Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista finished 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI in Tuesday’s defeat of the Red Sox … Mitch Moreland will undergo surgery on Wednesday to remove loose bodies from his left elbow and is expected to be sidelined 2-3 weeks … Kyle Blanks will be called up by the Rangers on Wednesday … Royals closer Greg Holland (pectoral) is aiming to return early next week … Jered Weaver fell to 0-3 after yielding six runs over seven innings Tuesday against the Athletics … Shane Victorino (hamstring) could begin a minor league rehab assignment next week … Twins closer Glen Perkins notched his sixth save Tuesday versus the Tigers … Alex Colome (pneumonia) has been cleared to join the Rays' starting rotation Friday against the Orioles … Mariners starter J.A. Happ struck out nine while allowing one run over 6 2/3 innings in Tuesday's win over the Rangers … Rays released veteran reliever Grant Balfour.