Thankfully, what the Cubs have experienced in positional player injuries, they have experienced the opposite of on the pitching side. All around the league, big name pitchers are going down – as they do – and in that regard, the Cubs can count themselves lucky.
In today’s MLBits, we’re going to check in on a few of those big name pitchers and see where things stand. Starting with Zack Greinke.
- On Tuesday, Zack Greinke exited (what was ultimately) the D-backs 4-3 loss to the Phillies, after just two innings pitched. Reportedly, he experienced some oblique tightness as he was warming up for the third, that occurred in his at-bat the inning prior. Greinke is scheduled to be reevaluated today, but there’s been no indication on his expected absence. According to manager Chip Hale, the (plausible) worst case scenario is a 15-day DL stint and the (plausible) best case scenario is that he makes his next start. It’s just too early to know.
- Joining him on the NL West Aces injury report is Clayton Kershaw. According to Ken Gurnick (MLB.com) Kershaw’s next start is in jeopardy, as the three-time Cy Young award winner has been sent back to Los Angeles (today) to have his sore back examined by club doctors. Kershaw, you’ll note, came up sore on Monday, after Sunday night’s loss to the Pirates and did not feel any better on Tuesday. In fact, Kershaw missed his regular bullpen session yesterday, making an appearance on his next scheduled start fairly unlikely. If he does make it back shortly thereafter, he may get one start before the All-Star Break, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they shut him down entirely from now until the break for the added, extra rest. If the Dodgers do lose Kershaw for a couple of weeks, their rotation starts to look a lot like the Cubs’ outfield (Already on the DL: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson).
- On the other side of the country, the NL East’s Washington Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg received the results of an MRI, but not the ones he hoped for. The Monday MRI confirmed that Strasburg does indeed have an upper-back strain, validating the fact that he was scratched from his past two starts. He was placed on the 15-day Disabled list on Sunday (retroactive to June 16). In his stead, however, the Nationals called up the top prospect in all of baseball, Lucas Giolito, and his first start went quite well.
- In fact, Giolito was throwing a bona-fide (albeit short) gem, before rain interrupted his start and shortened his day after just 4.0 innings pitched. In those four innings, however, the 21-year-old righty allowed no runs on just 1 hit and two walks against the rival New York Mets. For what it’s worth, the radar guns in the stadium clocked him up to 96.5 MPH on his fastball, although he’s been known to hit 98 MPH in the past. On whether he’ll remain with the big league club after Strasburg returns, the Nationals were relatively vague, claiming the team will evaluate Giolito and the decision on a start-by-start basis. Although he’s likely to return to the Minors, he has a real chance to stay and help out Washington significantly, as well.
- Fellow top pitching prospect Julio Urias became the first teenager to win a game in the Majors since Felix Hernandez in 2005, with a 6.0 IP, 2ER, 2H, 6BB, 6K performance Tuesday against the Brewers. Urias, 19, has struggled with command a bit in his very young career (10.5%), but has been striking out batters at an alarmingly impressive rate (28.7%) – 19-years-old or not. MLB’s youth movement, it would seem, is no longer just for the position players.
- Twins right hander Phil Hughes will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, according to Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (via MLB Trade Rumors). Hughes was already on the disabled list indefinitely, due to a femoral fracture above his kneecap, but is now guaranteed to miss the rest of the 2016 season, which must make the Twins absolutely mad (in the crazy sense of the word) about their decision to immediately extend him a year ago. If you recall, the Twins signed Hughes to a three year/$24 million steal of a deal back during the 2013-2014 offseason. Hughes, then, had a huge breakout season in 2014 (2.65 FIP), accumulating 5.8 fWAR over 209.2 innings pitched. The Twins immediately tacked on three years and $42 million more to his deal, before Hughes laid an egg in 2015 (4.40 ERA, 155.1 IP) and is scheduled to miss all of 2016. Perhaps sometimes you just need to be happy with what you have and not force the issue further.
- On June 17, the Cleveland Indians (36-30) had just a half a game lead over the Kansas City Royals (36-31) in the AL Central. After an eleven game winning streak, capped off last night with a 5-3 win over the Braves at Turner Field, the Indians lead is now a full 6.0 games over KC. The streak is the longest for the Indians since winning 11 in a row back in 1982. Today, they’ll look to make it to 12 in the series finale against the Braves. With Danny Salazar on the mound, they may have a pretty good shot, too.
- In a press release, Minor League Baseball has come out in support of the Save America’s Pastime Act (H.R. 5580), which was introduced to Congress earlier this month. The act, essentially, aims to amend the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to clarify that Minor League Baseball players are not subject to a law that was intended to protect workers in traditional hourly-rate jobs. In other words, MiLB does not want to be forced to pay Minor Leaguers the same minimum wages and overtime that other employers are required to pay their employees in different industries. The act is a response to a lawsuit currently underway in California that argues the opposite. MiLB claims that the lawsuit, “threatens baseball’s decades-old player development system with an unprecedented cost increase, which would jeopardize the skills-enhancement role of the minor leagues and the existence of Minor League Baseball itself.” The income and support disparity for Minor League players has been well-documented over the years. Just pay them a living wage. They’re your bread and butter, they work hard, and they deserve more than the scraps most of them are currently receiving.
- Melvin Upton Jr. made one of the reach-back-iest home run robberies you’ll see, AND hit a monster homer in the same game.
- Lastly, At Baseball is Fun, I wrote about everyone’s favorite baseball policeman Goose Gossage and the unwritten rules of baseball that he actually wrote down. Seriously.