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Corey Kluber
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Baseball Daily Dose

Daily Dose: Tough Break

by George Bissell

Indians ace Corey Kluber was diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture of his right ulna bone after being drilled by a 102.2 miles per hour comebacker during the fifth inning of his start against the Marlins on Wednesday. He remained stone-faced while being evaluated by the training staff in the aftermath of the incident, but it was a rather ominous sign when he didn’t even attempt to pick up the baseball after it deflected off his pitching arm. The 33-year-old veteran righty will be placed on the injured list and there's a realistic chance he may not return to a big-league mound for several weeks, perhaps even months. He’ll be reevaluated back in Cleveland on Thursday, but fantasy owners should brace themselves for a lengthy absence.

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Unfortunately, this is the type of freak injury which is impossible to forecast, will most likely require an extended rehabilitation period and has major fantasy implications for those who invested an early-round selection in drafts this spring. We’ll learn more about his exact recovery timetable when he’s reevaluated on Thursday, but fantasy owners in all formats will have to seek alternatives either on the trade market or via free agency to fill the immediate void. It’s been a rather bizarre campaign for Kluber, who owns a bloated 5.80 ERA, 1.68 WHIP and 38/15 K/BB ratio across seven starts this season. He entered this latest start with an opportunity to press the metaphorical reset button by dominating a floundering Marlins lineup, which ranked dead-last in runs scored (2.83 runs per-game) this season. It was a night in which we reasonably expected to get some answers with Kluber. Instead, we’re now left with even more long-term questions. At this point, it's fair to wonder whether he can get back to the previous level of performance we've grown accustomed to. Given his immense talent and history, it would be foolish to dismiss the possibility. However, this major injury further complicates matters and clouds his immediate future even more. 

Leclerc Demoted

Everything is bigger in Texas, especially their closer controversies. Rangers manager Chris Woodward said Wednesday that Jose Leclerc, who coughed up a three-run lead in the ninth inning against the Pirates on Tuesday, will be removed from the team's closer role “for the time being.” He also mentioned that Shawn Kelley and Chris Martin could be used as potential ninth-inning fill-ins moving forward. It’s safe to assume that Leclerc, who signed a long-term contract extension with Texas this spring, will be given plenty of low-leverage opportunities to re-discover the form that made him one of the elite relievers in baseball last season. However, his days as a relevant fantasy asset in shallow mixed leagues are over for now. He owns an unsightly 8.44 ERA, 2.16 WHIP and 14/9 K/BB ratio across 13 appearances. It’s a rather stunning development, given how firmly entrenched he appeared to be in the role just a few weeks ago, but the re-emergence of his persistent control issues has led to a complete unraveling. For fantasy owners chasing saves in deeper formats, Kelley is the obvious choice to garner the majority of the chances moving forward. However, the 35-year-old righty is a risky proposition considering his checkered injury history. Granted, he’s been outstanding so far this season, but he could easily be exposed a bit in higher-leverage situations. Proceed at your own risk.      

Canning Goods

Angels manager Brad Ausmus confirmed on Wednesday that rookie right-hander Griffin Canning will make his next start against the Tigers. The 22-year-old struck out six batters and only issued one walk, while yielding three runs on four hits, including a home run, across 4 1/3 innings of work in his major-league debut against the Blue Jays on Tuesday. From a pure fantasy perspective, the most encouraging aspect of his big-league debut revolved around his ability to command his four-pitch repertoire and consistently generate swings and misses. He generated an eye-popping 18 swinging strikes on 82 pitches, including eight on just 25 sliders, against Toronto. While his delivery is a bit deceptive, he possesses quality stuff, including a fastball which sits in the lower 90’s and topped out at 95 miles per hour in his debut.

Given the general lack of quality option in the Angels’ current starting rotation, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the former second-round selection receive an extended opportunity to prove he deserves a guaranteed long-term role at the big-league level. While the Angels haven’t officially announced his next start, it will come when they take on Detroit in a three-game series from Tuesday through Thursday of next week. He’s an intriguing speculative addition in deeper fantasy formats given his strikeout potential and an excellent streaming candidate in shallow formats given his tasty matchup against a Tigers offense, which currently ranks 27th in runs scored (3.48 per-game) through 27 games this season.

 

AL Quick Hits: Shohei Ohtani took seven at-bats in simulated action on Wednesday. … Lucas Giolito is expected to be activated from the 10-day injured list to start against the Red Sox on Thursday. … Mike Trout went 2-for-4 with a three-run double and a walk to lead the Angels past the Blue Jays. … Ty Buttrey tossed a pair of scoreless frames to record his first save of the season in that contest. … Joey Gallo blasted his 11th round-tripper of the season in a loss to the Pirates. … Luke Voit launched his ninth homer of the season in the Yankees’ loss to the Diamondbacks. … Adalberto Mondesi slugged a two-run homer and also swiped a pair of bases, giving him a major league-leading 10 thefts this season, in the Royals’ sweep of a doubleheader against the Rays. … Blake Snell was tagged for seven runs over three frames in a loss to the Royals. … Andrew Benintendi went 1-for-4 with a two-run single and a stolen base in the Red Sox’ win over the Athletics. … Khris Davis went 2-for-4 with an RBI double in the loss. … Jose Abreu went 2-for-4 with a solo homer and four RBI in the White Sox’ win over the Orioles. … Carlos Santana swatted a solo homer in the Indians’ loss to the Marlins. … Martin Perez hurled eight shutout frames to propel the Twins over the Astros. … Eloy Jimenez (ankle) took batting practice on Wednesday. … Drew Smyly (arm) threw 37 pitches in a two-inning simulated game on Wednesday.

NL Quick Hits: Brewers manager Craig Counsell told reporters on Wednesday that Christian Yelich's back is “better” and he’s still on track for a return for the weekend series against the Mets. … Juan Soto was scratched from the Nationals' lineup against the Cardinals with back spasms. He’ll be reevaluated on Thursday. … Dodgers manager Dave Roberts expects A.J. Pollock (elbow) to return in the 2019 season. He’s slated to undergo surgery to deal with an elbow infection on Thursday. … Javier Baez went 3-for-5 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored in the Cubs’ lopsided win over the Mariners. … Caleb Smith struck out eight batters over seven frames to lift the Marlins to a win over the Indians. … Nolan Arenado went 3-for-5 with two homers and four RBI as the Rockies crushed the Brewers. … Jesus Aguilar walked four times in that contest. … Hyun-Jin Ryu whiffed six batters over eight innings of one-run ball in a no-decision against the Giants. … Greg Holland notched his seventh save in the Diamondbacks’ win over the Yankees. … Felipe Vazquez hurled a scoreless ninth inning to notch his eighth save of the season in the Pirates’ win over the Rangers. … Bryan Reynolds extended his hitting streak to nine games, crushing a three-run double. … Marcell Ozuna went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored in the Cardinals’ victory over the Nationals. … Miles Mikolas yielded one run over six frames to pick up the win in that one. … Max Scherzer was tagged for three runs over seven innings in the loss. …  Mets’ closer Edwin Diaz served up a solo home run in the ninth inning and was saddled with a loss to the Reds. … Anthony DeSclafani whiffed eight batters over 5 2/3 shutout frames, but settled for a no-decision in that contest. … Jacob deGrom tossed seven scoreless innings in that one as well. … Cal Quantrill surrendered two runs over 5 2/3 frames in his major-league debut for the Padres against the Braves. … Mets placed Jeurys Familia on the 10-day injured list with right shoulder soreness. … David Robertson (elbow) still hasn't been cleared to resume throwing. … Odubel Herrera (hamstring) could be activated from the injured list on Sunday. … Tyler Beede will make his 2019 debut on Friday in a start against the Reds. … Brewers recalled Corbin Burnes from Triple-A San Antonio. He’ll operate exclusively out of the Milwaukee bullpen moving forward.

George Bissell