Michael Wacha is taking steps in the right direction, throwing regular bullpen sessions and mixing in all of his pitches. However, he is still at least two weeks away from returning to the mound for the Cardinals. He’ll throw a few more bullpens before facing live hitters, then go out on a rehab assignment of undetermined length. At best, he may return in early September when rosters expand.
Andrew McCutchen is expected to return to the Pirates lineup today after several successful and pain free sessions in the batting cages. McCutchen has a fractured rib and he will wear an EvoShield compression shirt with extra padding to protect the affected area, probably for the rest of the season.
Allen Craig is on track to be activated by the Red Sox on Friday. Craig started a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday. He’s been sidelined with a sprained foot suffered in his first game with his new team on August 2.
Andy Dirks came up lame again, the third time since going on rehab assignment following back surgery. He has a problem with recurring hamstring tightness, which may be related to the surgery. The Tigers haven’t said so, but it’s looking very unlikely that Dirks will return this season.
Adam Eaton is hoping to return from the DL on Sunday, the first day he is eligible. He’s been throwing long toss during his rehab for an oblique strain and there have been no setbacks to date. The White Sox will make a decision on Eaton soon.
Byron Buxton’s season is probably over according to Twins GM Terry Ryan. Buxton is recovering from a concussion suffered in a collision with a teammate last week in his Double-A ball debut. The team may still elect to send him to the Arizona Fall league, but any decision will rest upon his full recovery from the concussion.
Trends and News
Travis Snider has taken advantage of the opportunity brought about by Andrew McCutchen’s trip to the DL. He’s in the midst of a nine game hit streak, has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games, and since July 22 he’s slashing .333/.392/.639 with six HRs, 17 RBIs and 13 runs in 23 games (17 starts). Deep NL-only league players should take note, but with McCutchen due back Snider’s run may be ending.
Evan Gattis is struggling since returning to the Braves after a brief DL stint with a sore back. Since July 21, Gattis is slashing just .235/.295/.370 with 24 strikeouts in 88 PA (27 percent K rate). Gattis owners might be better served with some of the following catchers, who’ve hit much better during roughly the same period:
Caleb Joseph .295/.338/.623 with five HRs
Michael McKenry .438/.561/.750 with three HRs
Tyler Flowers .282/.346/.521 with four HRs
Dioner Navarro .315/.350/.478 with four HRs
Jason Heyward’s return to the top of the order seems to have awakened the young slugger’s bat. In six games since the move, Heyward is slashing .292/.333/.417 with a home run, two RBIs, four runs scored and a stolen base. Now, if the rest of the Braves lineup would wake up, we might have something to be happy about.
Marcell Ozuna is in another funk at the plate, even worse than the slump that led to a benching back in June. Since the All Star break, Ozuna is slashing just .186/.272/.284 with one home run and 38 strikeouts in 114 PA. His strikeout rate is 33 percent since the break and 28.6 percent overall this season. Couple that with his .332 BABIP and it’s not hard to imagine that his current .255 batting average will slide further south. The Marlins play 22 of their remaining 37 games on the road and Ozuna bats just .230 on the road as opposed to .270 at Marlins Park. This would be a good time to unload him if you can convince someone that he’s due to bust out of his slump. Good luck with that.
The Red Sox finally ended the misery that is Jackie Bradley Jr., as he was shipped back to Triple-A Pawtucket yesterday following the recall of Mookie Betts. To say Bradley was dreadful doesn’t nearly do him justice. Over 112 games, he batted just .216 with a .288 OBP, though he did play stellar defense in centerfield. Betts has that tasty speed/power combination that Fantasy owners drool over but he has yet to show it in the majors. Still, Betts is worth adding in all keeper and dynasty formats, as he could turn it on anytime. Betts put together a .346/.431/.529 triple slash in 464 PA over two levels of the minors (Double- and Triple-A) this season. He also hit 11 HRs and stole 33 bases in 99 games. There’s good stuff to come from the young Mookie, but probably not until 2015. The Sox are going to give him a good long look in centerfield the rest of the way. You should keep an eye on this kid too.
When it comes to the Orioles, all eyes are on Chris Davis, Nelson Cruz and (when healthy) Manny Machado. But very quietly, it’s Nick Markakis that’s been the glue of this team, as he is putting up another consistent performance as the leadoff man for the Orioles. Markakis is in the midst of a 10 game hitting streak, has hit safely in 15 of 16 August games, and is slashing .415/.493/.615 during the month of August. Since August 1, he has three HRs, five RBIs, 12 runs scored and a 10:10 K:BB ratio. He’s enjoying the best contact rate of his career (91 percent), rarely swings and misses, and rarely swings outside the hitting zone, all of which means that this is no fluke. If you need OF help for the stretch run, Markakis should continue to provide excellent counting numbers along with solid average and OBP ratios.
Oswaldo Arcia is solidifying his reputation for power hitting during August, as he hit his fifth homer of the month yesterday. Since August 1 he is slashing .277/.333/.660 with 13 RBIs and eight runs scored in 13 August games (12 starts). His batting averages won’t go north of .240 for the season (.230 right now) but he has 12 HRs already and could easily hit another five over the final six weeks.
Hisashi Iwakuma labors in the shadow of King Felix Hernandez but he’s putting together another excellent campaign worthy of notice. In nine starts since July 1, Iwakuma is 6-2 with a 1.83 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, .208 BAA and a 54:4 K:BB ratio in 64 IP. In that time he’s lowered his overall ERA from 3.48 to 2.72. Iwakuma’s 2.3 percent walk rate is the best in baseball (tied with Phil Hughes) and his 0.97 WHIP is bested only by Chris Sale, Johnny Cueto, Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw. That’s some elite company right there. Need a pitcher for the stretch run? Iwakuma will come a lot cheaper than any of the aforementioned aces.
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Join RotoExperts.com’s Scott Engel and participate in the coolest Fantasy Football league ever to support some great causes! You can draft and play against David Wright, Matt Harvey and other Mets stars and “The King” of Fantasy Sports at Citi Field on Wednesday, August 27. Register now for the Big League Impact New York Mets event to support important charities such as Ronald McDonald House and the Mets Foundation. You’ll also get a VIP ballpark experience and compete for great prizes. You can play in leagues against other teams as well, including the Giants and Reds. Click here to reserve your seat in the “Wright Stuff’ event and view a video below from the Detroit Tigers’ Big League Impact event on April 15.