AP Photo/The Canadian Press/Darren Calabrese
This already has been a crazy season for the Blue Jays' staff, with three-fifths of its projected rotation -- Jesse Litsch, Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan -- unlikely to appear at all for the team this season. And now that Janssen has gone down with inflammation in his right shoulder, the team has recalled left-hander Brad Mills from Triple-A Las Vegas to start Thursday afternoon against the Phillies. He'll become the 11th different starter, and the fifth rookie, to start for the Blue Jays this season.
Before Wednesday, there was always Halladay to count on. Halladay was shut down after he suffered a strain to his groin muscle during a game against the Florida Marlins. He will be out until at least June 28, and Brett Cecil might be summoned from the minors to face the Nationals on Saturday, Halladay's next scheduled turn in the rotation. How important is Halladay to the Blue Jays? Take him out of the equation, and the starting rotation is 16-21 with a 5.06 ERA. That won't keep Toronto in the pennant race.
Scott Richmond stepped it up and had a solid showing against Philadelphia on Wednesday, striking out a career-high 11 batters and allowing only five hits in eight innings. But it was the ninth inning that was the most informative. With a 7-1 lead, B.J. Ryan came in and promptly walked the bases loaded, retiring only one batter. Although it wasn't quite a save situation, Brandon League was called on to finish up the game and did so without allowing a run.
Because Downs, the team's closer, also was placed on the disabled list with a sprained toe, manager Cito Gaston said Jason Frasor would earn the first chance to close. It's not surprising that Ryan's name didn't surface in the discussion. In filling Downs' roster spot, the team has recalled former closer Jeremy Accardo from Triple-A Las Vegas.
Frasor is 4-0 with a 1.90 ERA this season and is the only pitcher on the roster other than Ryan with a save already this season. But because Gaston called on League on Wednesday night, it's clear he's also high in the skipper's pecking order. Assuming Toronto can scramble to find enough arms to reach the endgame with a lead, those are the only two guys I expect to see being given the chance to protect it while Downs is out.
• Whatever Jose Lopez is doing, he needs to keep it up. The Mariners' second baseman hit his fourth home run on Seattle's current road trip, and he now has five multihit games in June after going 2-for-4 Wednesday night. He's batting .321 in June and looking every bit like the player we thought he would be coming into the season.
• Another player who has not lived up to expectations in 2009 is J.J. Hardy. Batting .212 for the season won't win you many fans, but at least for one night, Hardy was a hero. The Brewers shortstop went 2-for-3 with a home run and drove in the eventual winning run in the top of the 11th inning with a sacrifice fly. A three-game hitting streak isn't cause for a parade, but the way this season has gone, for Hardy owners, it certainly is worth a handful of confetti.
• That game wouldn't have gone to extra innings if Trevor Hoffman hadn't blown his first save of the season for Milwaukee. Hoffman allowed four runs in the ninth to allow Cleveland to tie the game and might have lost if Ryan Garko hadn't stumbled while rounding second base on his game-tying, bases-clearing double. Garko twisted his ankle and was replaced by Ben Francisco in left field, but the embarrassed grin on his face in the dugout seemed to indicate he wasn't hurt too seriously.
• It wasn't a long outing, but the five innings that Boston's Brad Penny pitched were enough for him to earn his 100th career victory, 6-1 over the Marlins. The "minimum victory" was the 13th such win for Penny in his career, placing him sixth among active pitchers on that list. Jamie Moyer of the Phillies leads that list with 17, but he didn't add to that total on Wednesday, allowing six runs and 10 hits in six innings in Philadelphia's loss to Toronto.
• Is Zack Greinke running out of gas? The Royals' ace hasn't won in his past four starts and is now 8-3 on the season after getting crushed by Arizona. Greinke allowed six runs (four earned) and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings, and although his ERA for the season is still only 1.96, in his past four outings, it is a gaudy 5.46. Mark Reynolds hit his 18th home run of the season against Greinke in the seventh inning to end the pitcher's night.
• Rookie recap time: Tampa Bay pitcher David Price allowed five runs in seven innings to lose to the Rockies, but at least he was able to stretch his 99 pitches that far into the game. Meanwhile, Orioles catcher Matt Wieters hit his first major league home run against the Mets on Wednesday, a two-run shot to left field that just eluded Fernando Martinez's glove. Among National Leaguers, St. Louis outfielder Colby Rasmus had three hits, including a triple. Seventeen of his past 27 hits have gone for extra bases.
• Perhaps if we got rid of the designated hitter once and for all and counted pitchers' hitting stats, Cincinnati pitcher Micah Owings would be a fantasy first-rounder. Owings allowed only two runs in six innings against the Braves and proceeded to deliver all the offense he would need for the victory himself with a three-run homer off Javier Vazquez, the seventh round-tripper of Owings' career. Maybe we should get him to face off against Carlos Zambrano in the Home Run Derby?
• Tim Lincecum lost for the first time in 12 starts, though he was leading 3-1 entering the eighth inning. Four straight hits from the Angels, including pinch hitters Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero, were enough to drop the Giants starter to 6-2 on the year. For San Francisco, Pablo Sandoval started at third base for the first time since May 22. Travis Ishikawa was at first base and went 2-for-3 with a home run, so perhaps he's ready to play a bit more often.
Curtis Granderson, Tigers
Before Wednesday night, Detroit was 5-0 since May 27 when Granderson led off, but the team lost Wednesday 4-3 to St. Louis despite his best efforts. Granderson was 3-for-4 with a pair of solo homers and a stolen base. Although the Tigers seem more comfortable with Granderson at the top of the order, the team's success may be bad news long-term for fantasy owners, as the outfielder is hitting .237 in the leadoff spot and .321 in the 5-hole.
John Lannan, Nationals
Lannan, a Long Island native, retired 13 of the first 14 Yankees he faced Wednesday night and allowed only two runs in 8 1/3 innings to earn the victory in Washington's 3-2 win against the Bronx Bombers. That's pretty impressive, especially considering the Yankees have averaged six runs a game in their new home this season.
Ivan Rodriguez moved past Carlton Fisk to become the leader in games played behind the plate in major league history on Wednesday. Although Pudge received many ovations throughout the night in Texas, where he started his career in 1991, it wasn't his finest hour. Rodriguez made two throwing errors for only the sixth time in his 2,227 games behind the plate, and both miscues led to Rangers runs.
• Finally, the Twins and Denard Span know what is wrong with the outfielder. After nearly a month of tests, he has been diagnosed with vestibular neuritis, a form of an inner-ear infection. Span has started taking medication to treat the problem and was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactively to June 10. Outfielder Jason Pridie was recalled from Triple-A Rochester to take his roster spot for the next week.
• Astros pitcher Mike Hampton told the Houston Chronicle, "Hopefully I'll just miss two starts and this isn't something that lingers." This came in response to the news that Hampton was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left groin. Brandon Backe gets Hampton's turn in the rotation on Thursday against the Rangers.
• Texas activated pitcher Matt Harrison from the 15-day disabled list in time to start Wednesday's game in the Lone Star series, optioning Warner Madrigal to Triple-A Oklahoma. Harrison worked five innings in his first start back from a strained shoulder and left with a 3-2 lead but earned a no-decision after Eddie Guardado allowed the tying run in the eighth. The Rangers did win 4-3 in 10 innings, though.
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Tristan H. Cockcroft: I think the best I can suggest right now is you bench him and hope for the best. And "the best" might mean we find out he's a tiny bit nicked up and needs a 2-3 week DL stint, so you can shuffle him to your DL, and then he comes back at his early-season form and carries you to victory. I think you can read between the lines that I've got a lot of doubt about Wandy Rodriguez right now, but the way he has pitched, I think it's understandable.
-- Full chat transcript
Eric Karabell: I'm really losing patience with the Ludwick situation, as it appears he's the odd man out, and even when he does play, he's not doing much. Forget about a 30-homer season. I like Kubel, but Hart could probably match the power and then steal 20 bases, even though he's off to a slow start. And I take Lee over Oswalt. Looks to me like Lee might be dominant from here on out.
-- Full chat transcript
Thursday's fantasy chat schedule:
AJ Mass, 11 a.m. ET
Jason Grey, 3 p.m. ET
• While Smoltz's rehab is coming to an end, Sidney Ponson's is just beginning. The pitcher who has struggled mightily this season for Kansas City, with a 1-5 record and a 7.27 ERA, worked two scoreless innings Wednesday for Triple-A Omaha.
• We all know the knock on Matt Holliday was his performance away from Coors Field, and his track record at Dodger Stadium isn't stellar, only a .261 average, well below his career .316 mark.
• For more on Thursday's games, check out the Daily Notes.