Cary Edmondson/US Presswire
This wasn't quite the way the Giants wanted to have their top pitching prospect make his debut.
After Tim Lincecum was scratched from his scheduled start against the Padres on Tuesday due to back spasms, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said lefty Madison Bumgarner -- who turned 20 on Aug. 1 -- was the "best option" to replace Lincecum. More on the rookie in a moment.
Lincecum reportedly first started feeling discomfort Sunday, and was given anti-inflammatory medication. He was feeling better Monday, but the team erred on the side of caution and didn't let him start Tuesday.
"He just needs a couple of days [of rest]," Bochy told the team Web site. "Then we'll re-evaluate where we are with him."
It's a blow to the owners of the No. 1 starting pitcher in fantasy, and a best-case scenario likely has Lincecum returning to face the Rockies at the beginning of next week. So for those of you in fantasy playoffs this week, it doesn't appear he'll be making a start.
Lincecum's velocity has been down for many of his recent starts -- he's been sitting in the 93-94 mph range instead of a couple of mph higher -- but this back problem is supposedly recent and not related to that. Despite the diminished velocity, Lincecum has posted a similar ERA, a lower WHIP and a similar strikeout rate since the All-Star break, so it hadn't been affecting his production any. All his owners can do right now is wait and see.
As for Bumgarner, who became the youngest active player in the big leagues, he acquitted himself well in a no-decision, allowing two runs in 5 1/3 innings, walking one, striking out four and exiting after throwing 76 pitches. He posted a 1.85 ERA in the minors this year between high Class A and Double-A, but his velocity took a dip at the end of July. Instead of working in the 92-94 mph range and touching 95 as he had earlier in the year, he dropped down to the 90 mph range, presumably just because of the grind of the season. I doubt the Giants would have kept running him out there if they suspected anything else was the cause, or thought anything might be wrong. Bumgarner hit 90 mph twice in his big league debut, but mostly sat at 87-89 mph after throwing 131 1/3 innings in the minors this year.
The club had planned to call him up for situational and long-relief help for the balance of September, but the injury changed their plans. The Giants -- and Lincecum's fantasy owners -- are hopeful that this is the only start Bumgarner will have to make. Keeper leagues can use this opportunity to stash him away for next season.
• Phillies manager Charlie Manuel maintained after Tuesday's game that Brad Lidge could remain his closer, despite having to pull Lidge in the ninth when he loaded the bases with one out. Ryan Madson retired the next two batters on six pitches to earn the save.
"If there is a save situation tomorrow, he said he was going to bring me in," Lidge said after a meeting with Manuel after the game. However, actions speak louder than words, and it's very possible Manuel has finally lost patience with his struggling stopper.
• There is no changing of the guard in St. Louis, where the Cards are trying to give Ryan Franklin the Milwaukee series off, if they can, to rest him up for the stretch run. That's why Kyle McClellan got the save. Franklin is still the closer here.
• Don't look now, but Clay Buchholz's ERA is now under 4 after he posted his third straight quality start. In seven shutout innings against the Orioles, he allowed just four base runners and struck out five. Buchholz has quality outings in six of his past seven trips to the mound and is owned in less than 10 percent of ESPN leagues. Dustin Pedroia went yard twice as part of six Boston homers to back Buchholz.
• Julio Borbon showed there's a touch more to his game than just speed, homering twice in the first game of a doubleheader against the Indians. Oh, he also stole a base too, giving him 13 in 22 games this season. The homers are a bonus, but a nice bonus nonetheless.
• Los Angeles appears to be agreeing with Scott Kazmir, who allowed just one run for the second time in as many outings since joining the Angels, matching Felix Hernandez's strong pitching. However, both aces came away with no-decisions. Sometimes all it takes is a change of scenery. It is worth noting both outings came against Seattle, which is 28th in runs scored this year.
• Jake Peavy (elbow) will throw a bullpen session of about 60 pitches Wednesday, and if all goes well and he feels good, he'll likely start Tuesday in Seattle.
• Daisuke Matsuzaka (shoulder) will start a playoff game at Class A Salem on Wednesday, and throw 90-100 pitches to get him ready to return to the big leagues on Sept. 15.
• Jay Bruce, rehabbing a fractured wrist, will remain on that assignment through at least the first round of the Triple-A playoffs, which run through the end of the week. He could be up with the Reds again next week if Louisville is eliminated. However, Bruce has yet to show any power, and that might not start coming back until next year.
• The Twins will activate Francisco Liriano (elbow) from the disabled list Wednesday, but he's expected to work out of the bullpen for the remainder of the season, limiting his fantasy value.
Marlon Byrd, Rangers
Byrd has stepped up with Josh Hamilton ailing, going 7-for-9, with a homer, two runs scored and three RBI in a doubleheader with the Indians, and he has 12 hits in his past six games. Byrd is owned is less than 10 percent of ESPN leagues, and has quietly put up a .286 average with 16 homers and eight steals this season.
Javier Vazquez, Braves
Vazquez continues to be lights-out this season. He blanked the Astros over seven innings, allowing three hits, walking four and striking out nine. He's been a top-10 starting pitcher this season, yet has still been relatively under the radar.
The Cubs put up eight straight hits to start the first inning to tie a big league record, and it came at the expense of Zach Duke, who continued to show his All-Star berth was largely a luck-driven mirage. In 10 second-half starts, Duke has a 5.55 ERA and a 1.63 WHIP, and is fanning under four batters per nine.
• The Brewers called up third baseman Mat Gamel, but he is expected to be a bench bat and will be of interest only in keeper leagues. They also activated Corey Hart (appendectomy) off the disabled list. Manager Ken Macha told the team Web site Hart would see playing time, but not on an everyday basis down the stretch, so plan accordingly.
• Alex Gordon is back with the Royals after hitting well at Omaha, and he could have some sleeper value in deep mixed leagues down the stretch, as he should see regular time at third again. He posted a .928 OPS in 18 games with Omaha after his demotion.
• The Orioles called up pitchers Chris Lambert and Chris Waters. What is notable about this is that these two will replace Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz in the rotation when each is shut down after one or two more starts. Neither Lambert nor Waters is fantasy-worthy, but those using either of the young Orioles prospects will need to find other options.
• The Twins activated Joe Crede from the disabled list, and they'll try to see how long his back will hold up at third. Don't expect much.
• The Marlins recalled Chris Volstad from Triple-A, and the plan is for him to work in long relief unless there is an injury.
• With minor league regular seasons ending, big league clubs were calling up a lot more reinforcements for their expanded rosters, but for most of the players, if they were expected to see meaningful playing time they would have been up already.
• Click here for all of the latest MLB transactions.
Brendan Roberts: It hasn't been overlooked ... in fact, he might have been too dominant. Now the team is saying he might just stay pitching out of the bullpen next year because of how he fits in the role. The team's prospects are all starting pitchers, so the team has more need for him as a reliever. And, well, he might nail down the closer role earlier than later. But still, we'd like to see him more as a starter, which is really where he belongs with that effortless delivery.
-- Full chat transcript
Wednesday's fantasy chat schedule:
Tristan H. Cockcroft, 11 a.m. ET
Eric Karabell, 3 p.m. ET
• Twins outfield prospect Ben Revere, who followed up last year's .379 average in low Class A with a .311 mark, 45 steals and more walks than strikeouts this season, went 1-for-4 with two runs scored for Fort Myers. Revere was the 28th overall pick in 2007, and the club hopes he will eventually be its leadoff hitter.
• Yankees catching prospect Austin Romine, a 2007 second-round pick who the team hopes can be their future catcher if/when Jesus Montero has to leave the backstop position, went 0-for-3 but walked three times and scored two runs for Tampa. The walks are nice because although Romine hit .276 with 13 homers this season, he posted just a .322 on-base percentage. That will need to improve as he moves up the ladder. Romine will next play in the Arizona Fall League.
• After holding his former teammates to two runs in seven innings at home last week, Jon Garland will face the D-backs again in Arizona. He has posted a 3.72 ERA since the break. Having pitched well away from Chase Field this season and with a favorable schedule the rest of the way, Garland could be a sleeper down the stretch.
• Which Barry Zito will show up? The one who looks more like a pitcher with a 2.09 ERA and 1.19 WHIP since the All-Star break, or the one who has had some control issues in recent starts (although he managed to escape unscathed in both of them)? Pitching against the Padres is a favorable matchup.
• For more on Wednesday's games, check Daily Notes.