AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
A few teams had some bullpen shake-ups Tuesday, not exactly what fantasy owners were looking for when they're in the playoffs or fighting for those last few points in saves during the final two weeks.
Chicago White Sox closer Bobby Jenks announced after Tuesday's game that he is done for the season after aggravating a strained calf muscle during pregame workouts. He first started feeling it last week but pushed it a little too far on Tuesday and "heard the pop, felt it and it's not good," he told the team's Web site. Lefty Matt Thornton and righty Octavio Dotel are likely to share closing duties in the final games, depending on whom the White Sox will play in those games.
Seattle Mariners closer David Aardsma also missed Tuesday's game, but his injury is a little less serious. Mark Lowe converted a save chance against the Tampa Bay Rays because Aardsma was unavailable thanks to tightness in his back, reportedly from the plane ride to the East Coast. Aardsma said it wasn't severe enough that he couldn't pitch through it, but the team erred on the side of caution and held him out. He'll likely pitch again when the next opportunity arises.
Finally on the closer carousel, Franklin Morales' days of getting saves in the Colorado Rockies' bullpen are likely at an end. Huston Street -- who had been dealing with tightness in his biceps -- is ready to pitch again, and he worked in the seventh inning Tuesday to get a game or two under his belt before sliding Morales back to the eighth inning for the final few games. Morales recorded a shaky save against the Padres on Tuesday, and it may be his last of the season.
• Although it was hardly the game of his career -- naturally, that'd be his no-hitter versus the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sept. 6, 2006 -- Anibal Sanchez's eight shutout innings of two-hit, seven-strikeout baseball ranked a close second. It earned him a game score of 83, six behind his no-no. Sanchez spent two separate stints on the disabled list earlier this season with a shoulder injury, but he has a 2.58 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 36 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings in seven starts since most recently being activated. He might have future value, a pitcher to track as a possible 2010 sleeper, especially if he can carry this kind of hot streak into his final two starts of the year at the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies.
• The Phillies didn't get bad pitching in their half of the doubleheader; Joe Blanton tossed seven shutout innings and struck out nine to win for the 11th time, and Jamie Moyer lost for the first time in nine starts at Land Shark Stadium (he was previously a perfect 8-0) despite tossing a quality start (7 IP, 9 hits, 3 earned runs). Blanton and the Phillies wrap up the season with almost entirely pitching-friendly matchups, with four games at the Milwaukee Brewers this weekend, then back-to-back home series versus the Houston Astros and Florida Marlins next week.
• Edwin Jackson seemed to be helped by a side session during which he worked on not tipping his pitches, which he reportedly has been doing lately. He shut out the Cleveland Indians over seven innings to pick up win No. 13 on the season.
• Matt LaPorta is dealing with left hip inflammation from running the bases and departed Tuesday after just three innings. He was replaced by Andy Marte and is considered day-to-day for now, and we'll have to see how he feels Wednesday. He'll likely miss at least a game or two.
• Aaron Cook (shoulder) will return to the Colorado Rockies' rotation and start Friday, but he draws a tough assignment with the St. Louis Cardinals at home, so he probably shouldn't be an option, especially because he will be on a 70-pitch limit.
• Clayton Kershaw tossed two scoreless innings of relief in his return from an injury to his nonthrowing shoulder and likely will return to the Dodgers' rotation against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.
• David Wright admitted to Newsday that the Matt Cain fastball that gave him a concussion is "still in the back of his head" when he's at the plate, and he is flinching more than usual on inside pitches. Hopefully, he'll get over this by the time next season rolls around.
• J.A. Happ's oblique is feeling better, and he will make his next scheduled start for the Phillies on Thursday. Pedro Martinez is still tentatively scheduled to pitch Saturday, depending on how his neck feels Wednesday after a bullpen session.
• Denard Span was out of the Minnesota Twins' lineup on Tuesday as he recovers from being hit in the head on Monday. The team stressed that it was merely a headache and not a concussion, and Span is considered day-to-day.
• The San Francisco Giants' Freddy Sanchez, who left Monday's game with an injury, may wind up out for the rest of the season after MRI results showed he aggravated a torn meniscus in his knee. He will be out at least a few days, if not more. If you're using him, it's time to find another option. Eugenio Velez is likely to see most of the time at second base down the stretch.
• Andy Pettitte's shoulder made it through Monday's start just fine, and he doesn't anticipate any problems after missing a previous turn with shoulder fatigue, according to The New York Times.
• Scott Hairston, dealing with hip and back injuries, remained out of the Oakland Athletics' lineup, and there's no timetable for his return. Hairston told the team's Web site, "At some point, you've gotta know when to stop, and right now, I'm stopped. I've gone as far as I can go." That doesn't sound promising for him to get more at-bats over the balance of the season. The A's are likely to mix and match outfielders in his absence.
• The Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez, one of the hottest hitters in baseball during the second half, felt his hamstring tighten during a cold night on Tuesday as he was running out a triple. He was replaced by Seth Smith. At this point it's not considered too serious, and he may miss only a day or two. Gonzalez acknowledged he could play if necessary.
• Brian McCann bruised his left wrist when he was hit by a foul tip and had to depart Tuesday's game early. X-rays were negative, and McCann said if he could swing the bat, he could play Wednesday, but he may need a day or so before returning to the Braves' lineup. David Ross will play behind the plate for however long McCann is out.
Rafael Furcal, Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop went 4-for-5 with a double and four RBIs in a win over the Washington Nationals. It's been a disappointing season for him, but Furcal is at least finishing better, hitting .307 with three steals this month.
Zack Greinke, Royals
He continued his march toward the American League Cy Young Award, shutting out the Boston Red Sox for six innings, scattering two hits, three walks and five strikeouts. Greinke now has 15 wins to go with his major league-leading 2.08 ERA, and one of the strongest points in his favor is that in games versus teams ranked among the top 11 in baseball in scoring runs per game, the right-hander has a 2.27 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 109 K's in 95 1/3 innings in 14 starts.
Mark Reynolds set the major league single-season record for strikeouts for the second year in a row, upping his total to 206 with three whiffs Tuesday. Reynolds fanned 204 times last season, breaking the mark of 199 set by Ryan Howard just the year before. However, fantasy owners don't mind the strikeouts so much this year, as Reynolds has slugged 43 homers (second in the majors), driven in 100 runs and stolen 24 bases, making him the top fantasy third baseman in our Player Rater.
• The Cincinnati Reds activated Willy Taveras from the disabled list. Taveras has the distinction of sporting the worst OPS (.557) of any player in baseball with at least 400 plate appearances this season. He's valuable in fantasy for one solitary purpose -- he can steal bases (25, to be exact). Problem is, Drew Stubbs led the Reds in home runs (8), total bases (65), stolen bases (7) and runs scored (20) when Taveras was on the DL, and the team's official Web site reports that as a result, Taveras will be a bench player for now. Even with regular at-bats, Taveras' .273 on-base percentage limited him from getting many chances to run.
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Rob Neyer: Nobody hits 50 doubles per season, but we might expect some of those doubles to become home runs as Butler matures. He's having a fine season for a Royal, which almost makes me feel bad about mentioning that he's ninth among American League first basemen in OPS.
-- Full chat transcript
Wednesday's fantasy chat schedule:
Tristan H. Cockcroft, 11 a.m. ET
Eric Karabell, 3 p.m. ET
• Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospect Brad Lincoln tossed 6 2/3 innings of two-run baseball to win his second game for Team USA in the 2009 Baseball World Cup in Florence, Italy, on Tuesday. A 2006 first-rounder (No. 4 overall), Lincoln went 1-5 with a 2.28 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 13 starts for Double-A Altoona and 6-2 with a 4.70 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 12 starts for Triple-A Indianapolis this season. He missed all of the 2007 season because of Tommy John surgery but appears to have his career back on track and might get a look from the Pirates at some point in 2010.
• Although the Triple-A Baseball National Championship game was decided on a walk-off wild pitch by Memphis' Oneli Perez, it was Durham starter Jeremy Hellickson who took home the Bobby Murcer MVP trophy. Hellickson, a top prospect for the Tampa Bay Rays, tossed five shutout innings, allowing two hits and one walk while striking out two. Between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham, the right-hander was 9-2 with a 2.45 ERA, 10.4 strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio and .178 batting average allowed in 20 starts. He'll see time in Tampa Bay in 2010, although how much is up for debate, given the depth of the Rays' rotation.
• The St. Louis Cardinals voided the contract of 16-year-old Dominican outfielder Wagner Mateo after he failed the team's physical. Mateo was seen as one of the prizes of this year's Latin American talent pool and originally received a $3.1 million signing bonus. Mateo is reportedly having vision problems.
• The Cincinnati Reds' Homer Bailey will try to continue to show that his improved velocity and new splitter are for real as he takes the mound in a favorable matchup against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bailey has been a top-20 starter in our Player Rater during the past 30 days, with a 1.83 ERA and averaging a strikeout per inning in his past six starts.
• Rick VandenHurk of the Florida Marlins can make bats miss. He's coming off a good six-inning outing as he faces the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday. It's not necessarily a great matchup, but the 24-year-old right-hander is looking to build some traction toward a potential rotation spot next season.
• Note to the New York Yankees: This is how you manage a pitcher's innings and still keep him effective. The Detroit Tigers have carefully monitored the innings and pitches of 20-year-old rookie Rick Porcello, and it seems to have worked, as he's saved some of his best pitching for late in the season. Porcello takes the hill at Cleveland with a 3.51 ERA in his past 10 starts.
• The Yankees aim to win the rubber game of their three-game series at the Los Angeles Angels, but more importantly, they'll hope A.J. Burnett can build upon his strong performance at Seattle this past Friday. With Andy Pettitte's shoulder facing some questions and Joba Chamberlain looking entirely unusable, a successful Burnett is imperative to this team heading into the playoffs. Just to point something troubling out for fantasy owners, though, Burnett was 0-1 with a 4.80 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in his two starts at Angel Stadium in 2008, and he's 1-1 with a 4.82 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in four starts versus the Angels between this and last season. Kazmir, by comparison, is 5-1 with a 2.15 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in his past nine starts versus the Yankees (albeit all of those with the Tampa Bay Rays).
• For more on Wednesday's games, check Daily Notes.