OF Alex Rios missed a second straight game Tuesday with an ankle sprain, but he is expected to return to the Rangers lineup on Wednesday.
1B/3B Edwin Encarnacion hit a grand slam HR in his second at bat during Tuesday’s rehab game. He remains on track to return from a quad strain with Friday being the expected day he’ll be activated off the DL.
Ricky Nolasco had a positive rehab start Tuesday and is penciled in to start for the Twins on Friday, the opener of a four-game series against the Royals.
The Astros had both good news and bad news about their injured outfielders. Dexter Fowler, out since June 26 with an intercostal strain, is expected to be in the Astros lineup Wednesday after successfully completing a four game rehab stint on Tuesday. The bad news is that George Springer suffered a major setback in his return from a quad strain. He had a MRI on his ailing thigh which led the medical staff to prescribe an additional two weeks of rest. Springer has been sidelined since July 20 and will likely attempt another rehab assignment before returning, which could delay his return to the lineup into September.
Jed Lowrie has a hairline fracture at the tip of his index finger but will not be going on the disabled list. He intends to play through the injury, though it does seem to affect him at the plate; he is batting just .185 during August with five hits in his last 29 plate appearances.
Adam Lind returned to the Blue Jays lineup Tuesday night after missing more than a month with a broken foot. With Lind back and Edwin Encarnacion due any day, Juan Francisco will see a reduction in playing time, though, the Blue Jays may opt to have Francisco play third base regularly while Brett Lawrie recuperates from his back injury.
Both Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitski are scheduled to see specialists today for their ailments. Tulowitski is trying to rule out a potential hip labrum issue since he’s been slow to recover from what was originally a diagnosis of a hip flexor strain. Gonzalez is exploring treatment options for tendinitis in his knee. There is talk that he may have a platelet rich plasma injection, which would end his season. Stay tuned for news on both players either later today or tomorrow.
Padres SS Everth Cabrera was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with a left hamstring strain for the second time in two months and the third time since the beginning of last season. An MRI revealed that the injury was severe enough to warrant another DL stint, which effectively kills any Fantasy value Cabrera might have had. Even if he returns early in September, he isn’t likely to run much, so go ahead and cut ties with him and explore other speed options on the waiver wire.
Andrelton Simmons missed his sixth straight game Tuesday with a left ankle sprain. He was cleared to start playing again on Monday but the Braves medical staff advised manager Fredi Gonzalez to rest him an additional day. Simmons is expected to start Wednesday’s game.
Gerrit Cole will make his fourth rehab start on Saturday with an eye towards rejoining the Pirates sometime next week. His rehab has gone slowly and he hasn’t pitched very effectively at times. The Pirates are looking for seven innings and/or 90 pitches from Cole in this outing and they’re hoping he can be more consistent with his mechanics and command.
It looks as though Justin Verlander will avoid the disabled list after a MRI revealed inflammation but no structural damage in his shoulder. Verlander left Monday’s start early and will have his next turn in the rotation skipped to rest and allow the inflammation to subside. Robbie Ross will likely take Verlander’s start, currently scheduled for Saturday. Verlander has allowed the most hits of any AL starting pitcher and the most earned runs of any MLB starter this season. He is 10-11 with a 4.76 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP with just 118 strikeouts. His 6.7 K/9 is a career low and he’s lost significant velocity on all his pitches.
Manny Machado has a sprained knee, not a serious injury as originally thought. There is no word yet about a possible trip to the DL but we may hear something today.
Jeremy Hellickson had another stellar outing Tuesday, throwing six shutout innings and allowing just six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. He’s allowed just one earned run over his last 13 IP (0.69 ERA) with a 9:1 K:BB ratio and batters hitting just .174 against him. Overall, Hellickson has a 2.02 ERA with a 20:6 K:BB ratio and a 1.16 WHIP. Those of you taking a wait and see approach with Hellickson can safely insert him into your Fantasy rotations now.
Josh Donaldson hit a pair of homers Tuesday, his first round trippers in the month of August. He has, however, shown strong signs that his batting average, which was a dreadful .238 heading into the All-Star break, will recover during the final months of the season. He’s hit safely in 21 of 24 games since the break, with a triple slash of .326/.434/.581, five HRs, 19 RBIs, 17 runs scored and four stolen bases. Donaldson has raised his batting average 17 points to .255 in that span, mainly due to a much lower strikeout rate and an increase in line drives and fly balls. His .270 BABIP leaves plenty of room for more improvement and it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect his batting average to creep its way up into the .265 zone by the end of the season with another half dozen dingers.
Here’s a case of dreadful symmetry for you: In the 24 games prior to the All Star break, J.D. Martinez batted .400/.433/.789 with nine HRs 23 RBIs, 17 runs scored and 50 percent of his total hits going for extra bases. In the 24 games since the All Star break, Martinez has batted .193/.256/.325 with two HRs, eight RBIs, eight runs scored and just 38 percent of his total hits for extra bases. Overall, his batting average has dropped 47 points over the last 24 games from .346 down to .299. This little 48 game span is a microcosm of Martinez’s career. His success this year was attributed to some changes in his swing path and mechanics at the plate, adjustments, just like every successful major league hitter. But what Martinez seems unable to do, indeed, has never been able to do, is to adjust his swing when the pitchers adjust to him. So he enjoyed some great successes followed by miserable failures because he’s simply unable to make in-season adjustments. This is why the Mets gave up on him, the Astros gave up on him, and ultimately, why the Tigers will give up too. Don’t wait for the Tigers to wake up, be proactive and get rid of Martinez while you can still get some value for him. Another week or two and you won’t get 50 cents on the dollar.
Devin Mesoraco made it two multi-hit games in a row Tuesday with a 3 for 4 effort after hitting a pair of HRs the game before. Overall, he’s enjoying another resurgence in August after slowing down just a little in July. He’s got a modest four game hit streak going, has hit safely in 8 of his last 12 games, and is slashing .324/.390/.568 in August with two HRs, 10 RBIs and five runs scored. He’s been carrying what is left of the Reds offense since Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto were lost to injuries, and he could end up being the number one catcher in the 2015 rankings if he keeps this up.
The change of scenery has done Drew Smyly good, as he turned in another strong effort for the Rays on Tuesday. He’s allowed just three earned runs in 13 IP (2.08 ERA) since joining Tampa Bay, with a 15:5 K:BB ratio and a .217 BAA. Both of those starts have been on the road, so he has yet to start for the Rays in Tampa Bay, where the team scores 4.2 runs per game as opposed to 3.6 runs per game elsewhere.
Doug Fister made it two scoreless outings in a row Tuesday with seven innings of shutout ball against the hapless Mets. Fister scattered seven hits and struck out three without walking a batter. In fact, he hasn’t walked a batter in his last 17 innings. Fister has been on a dominant run of six games in which he hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs. During those 41 innings he has a K:BB raio of 27:7, a 1.32 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP with opposing batters hitting just .247 off him. Fister’s 3.63 FIP and 3.73 xFIP both leave room for some regression, mainly because he doesn’t strike out a lot of batters and has been fairly lucky with a .271 BABIP and 8.9 percent HR/FB rate. However, those have been offset by his 35.7 percent O-Swing (percentage of pitches swung at outside the strike zone), a sign that he is getting good deception out of his delivery. You could make a case that he is the ace of the Nationals staff, a lofty mantel, considering his teammate is Stephen Strasburg.