On the heels of the Knicks gut-wrenching third-place finish in the Zion Williamson sweepstakes at the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday night, there hasn’t been much reason for optimism among New York sports fans after missing out on a potential generational talent. With the Empire State reeling, 22-year-old shortstop Gleyber Torres rose to the occasion, launching three homers to power the injury-depleted Yankees to a doubleheader sweep of the bottom-feeding Orioles on Wednesday. Not only was it the second multi-homer performance of his career, but it also vaulted New York to within a half game of the first-place Rays in the American League East.
With Torres serving as the Yankees’ main offensive catalyst in the front end of the doubleheader, Domingo German continued his stellar breakout campaign, striking out eight batters over seven innings of one-run ball, in the second game of the twin-billing. The 26-year-old righty owns a sublime 2.50 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 52/15 K/BB ratio across 50 1/3 innings of work. The Pinstripes also got a pair of scoreless appearances from closer Aroldis Chapman, who whiffed four batters over two frames combined to notch his 10th and 11th saves of the year. According to YES Network researcher James Smyth, the 31-year-old fireballer became the first Yankee to record a pair of saves on the same day since Rafael Soriano accomplished the feat back in 2012.
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Amidst the myriad of positive developments for the Yankees came the extremely disappointing news on Wednesday night that third baseman Miguel Andujar has elected to undergo season-ending surgery to repair his torn right labrum. The 24-year-old slugger was a revelation as a rookie last year, hitting .297/.328/.527 with 83 runs scored, 27 homers, 92 RBI and two steals in 606 plate appearances, but had been plagued by the labrum tear since the start of the season. This latest development always seemed inevitable, especially since he went 3-for-34 with no extra-base hits in nine games after coming off the 10-day injured list earlier this month, but it’s a particularly bitter pill to swallow for fantasy owners who invested an early-round selection in draft this spring. He finishes the 2019 campaign with a disastrous .123/.143/.128 triple-slash line across 49 plate appearances. According to multiple reports, Andujar will undergo the procedure on Monday and should be fully recovered in time for the 2020 campaign.
The Riley Revolution Begins
It didn’t take long for top prospect Austin Riley to make an impact after being called up from Triple-A Gwinnett to replace Ender Inciarte (back) on the Braves’ roster. The 22-year-old newly-minted outfielder turned on a 90-mph heater from Cardinals starter Michael Wacha, launching a mammoth 438-foot blast to left-center field in the fourth inning, in his major-league debut on Wednesday night. As Cersei Lannister famously reminded us, “power is power,” and there’s no question Riley’s raw power grade leaps off the metaphorical charts. He’s already clobbered 16 round-trippers in 38 games between Triple-A Gwinnett and the major leagues this season. If he garners everyday at-bats, he has a legitimate chance to eclipse the 30-homer plateau at the big-league level, especially given the composition of the actual baseball and run-scoring environment.
Unfortunately, the fantasy landscape is overpopulated with strikeout-prone, one-dimensional sluggers, which will undoubtedly cap his short-term upside. However, that doesn’t preclude him from being a valuable asset right out of the gate, especially in deeper formats. At a bare minimum, Riley profiles as an immediate three-category impact contributor, capable of blossoming into a four-category stud if he can slash his strikeout rate (something he was actively accomplishing at Triple-A so far this year) or parlay his prodigious exit velocity skills into ideal line-drive contact. If you dig into his extensive minor-league track record, it’s clear that he’s never been a batting average liability. Yet, assuming he’s a surefire lock to hit .275 (or higher) in his first exposure to big-league pitching may be asking too much. It’s difficult to envision Riley morphing into a perennial early-round caliber fantasy asset, simply because he doesn’t steal bases, but he seems like a surefire bet to make an impact as a middle-of-the-order masher for years to come in Atlanta.
AL Quick Hits: Yandy Diaz left Wednesday's game against the Marlins with ankle discomfort. … David Price (elbow) will throw a bullpen session on Friday and is likely to start against the Blue Jays next week. … Rangers placed Elvis Andrus on the 10-day injured list with a left hamstring strain. … Michael Chavis delivered a walk-off single to propel the Red Sox to an extra-innings win over the Rockies. … J.D. Martinez went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and three RBI and Mookie Betts went 3-for-5 with an RBI and a pair of runs scored in the victory. … Willie Calhoun went 2-for-5 with a two-run homer in the Rangers’ lopsided win over the Royals. … Justin Verlander registered nine strikeouts over seven innings in the Astros’ win over the Tigers. … Byron Buxton clubbed his second home run of the season in the Twins' victory over the Angels. … Tommy La Stella slugged his 11th homer of the season and Brian Goodwin went 4-for-4 with a pair of runs scored in the losing effort. … Jalen Beeks racked up four strikeouts over three scoreless innings in relief to pick up his third win in the Rays’ shutout victory over the Marlins … Diego Castillo notched his fifth save in that one. … Justin Upton (toe) has begun baseball activities. … Jesus Luzardo (shoulder) threw his first bullpen session Tuesday. … James Paxton (knee) felt good on Wednesday after throwing a bullpen session Tuesday. He’ll throw another bullpen on Friday. … Twins activated Miguel Sano from the 10-day injured list and placed Mitch Garver on the 10-day injured list with a high ankle sprain. … Nelson Cruz (wrist) remained out of the Twins' starting lineup again on Wednesday. … Tigers optioned Jeimer Candelario to Triple-A Toledo. … Andrew Heaney (elbow) threw four innings in an extended spring training game on Wednesday in Arizona … Dellin Betances (shoulder) has extended his flat-ground throwing out to a distance of 90 feet. … Drew Smyly is dealing with an ankle sprain, and could have his next start pushed back. … A.J. Puk (elbow) threw a simulated game earlier this week in Arizona. … Angels purchased the contract of LHP/1B Jared Walsh from Triple-A Salt Lake.
NL Quick Hits: Trevor Story left Wednesday's extra-innings loss against the Red Sox after colliding awkwardly with outfielder Raimel Tapia. He told reporters that he has a bruised knee and is hoping to be able to play on Friday against the Phillies. … Anthony Rizzo (back) remained out of the Cubs' starting lineup again on Wednesday. … David Peralta left Wednesday's game against the Pirates with right trap tightness. … Braves placed Ender Inciarte on the 10-day injured list with a lumbar strain. … Zack Greinke whiffed five batters over 7 2/3 scoreless innings before being removed with abdominal tightness in that contest. … Kenta Maeda struck out 12 batters over 6 2/3 innings and Kenley Jansen recorded his 14th save in the Dodgers' win over the Padres. ... Patrick Corbin posted 11 strikeouts over eight innings of one-run ball in the Nationals’ victory over the Mets. … Victor Robles went 2-for-4 with his eight homer and Anthony Rendon went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a pair of runs scored in that contest. … Mike Soroka tossed seven shutout innings and Luke Jackson picked up a two-inning save to lead the Braves to a win over the Cardinals. … Ronald Acuña also stole a pair of bases in that contest. … Yasiel Puig delivered a walk-off single to lift the Reds’ to an extra-innings victory over the Cubs. … Eugenio Suarez walloped his 13th long ball and Nick Senzel swiped a pair of bases in that one. … Yu Darvish struck out 11 batters and did not hand out a free pass over 5 1/3 frames in a no-decision. … Josh Hader picked up his 11th save in the Brewers’ win over the Phillies. … Jean Segura went 2-for-4 with a solo homer in the loss. … Will Smith struck out the side for his 11th save against the Blue Jays. … Chris Archer was shelled for seven runs (six earned) over 3 2/3 innings in the Pirates’ loss to the Diamondbacks. … Cubs manager Joe Maddon said there's no timetable for Ben Zobrist's return to the active roster. … Carlos Martinez (shoulder) allowed a run on four hits in a two-inning appearance Wednesday at Double-A Springfield … Chase Anderson (blister) will start on Saturday against the Braves. … Alex Wood (back) could resume throwing next week. … Drew Steckenrider will not require surgery on his injured right elbow. … Taijuan Walker (Tommy John surgery rehabilitation) will undergo an MRI after experiencing discomfort in his right shoulder.