The Dodgers are off to a sluggish 12-16 start this season and are already eight games behind the Diamondbacks in the National League West. If they thought things couldn’t get worse, well, they were wrong.
The team announced Monday that Corey Seager will undergo Tommy John surgery on Friday. He is done for the season.
Seager dealt with elbow issues down the stretch of last season and general manager Farhan Zaidi revealed Monday that the club considered Tommy John surgery among a host of options at the time. They obviously wound up choosing the rest and rehab route, but Seager didn’t make his Cactus League debut at shortstop until less than two weeks before Opening Day. In hindsight, this probably should’ve been viewed as a bigger red flag than it was.
The hope is that Seager will be ready for Opening Day next season, but it’s certainly not a given.
There was plenty of immediate speculation that the Dodgers might now make a play for Manny Machado, but it would take some major creativity for them to pull that off and remain under the luxury tax threshold. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman generally isn’t one to deal top prospects for a rental, although he did it last year when he acquired Yu Darvish.
For now, the Dodgers plan to move Chris Taylor in from center field to be their everyday shortstop. Taylor hadn’t started a game at shortstop this season until Monday, but it’s his natural position.
Enrique Hernandez got the start in center field Monday and should see ample time in the outfield moving forward. Joc Pederson and Alex Verdugo will also see an uptick in playing time, especially while Yasiel Puig (hip, foot) is also sidelined. Andrew Toles could also eventually be an option, but he’s currently sidelined at Triple-A Oklahoma City with a strained hamstring. It’s unclear at this point how long Puig will be out.
Pederson has kind of fallen off the mixed league radar with how he’s played since the beginning of last season, but he has gone 12-for-29 with a homer, eight RBI, a stolen base and 7/6 K/BB ratio over his last 35 plate appearances entering play Monday night. Verdugo has produced modest counting stats in the minors, but he was the youngest regular in the Pacific Coast League last season and is one of the better pure hitting prospects in the game. Both Pederson and Verdugo are worthy of mixed league fliers, and I’d have Toles on my radar, as well.
Morton the Magnificent
The Yankees entered Monday’s game against the Astros having won nine straight games. They lead all of baseball in runs scored by a comfortable margin.
Charlie Morton didn’t care.
Morton carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and wound up being charged with just one run on two hits and two walks over 7 2/3 dominant innings. The lone run on Morton’s ledger came around to score after he had left the game. He got 14 swings and misses among his 102 pitches and topped out at 99.5 mph on the radar gun.
Morton now boasts a 4-0 record this season to go along with a 1.72 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 45/13 K/BB ratio over 36 2/3 innings. His 10-strikeout showing Monday was already his second double-digit punchout outing this season after he totaled three last year.
It’s unusual for a previously nondescript pitcher to peak in his mid-30s, but nothing about what Morton is doing looks fluky. He’s throwing harder than ever and getting more swings and misses than ever with his mid-to-high-90s fastball and devastating curveball. Morton has become a strikeout pitcher while not walking any more batters or sacrificing his groundball-inducing ways. He’s also managed to reverse his career-long issues against left-handed batters by shutting them down over the last two seasons with enhanced stuff and a better pitch mix.
Morton is 34 and the only time he’s ever made 30 starts in a season came back in 2010 when he started 14 games for Triple-A Indianapolis and 17 games for the Pirates. He missed over six weeks of action last season with a strained lat. Injury-prone pitchers are usually going to stay injury-prone in their mid-30s, so Morton is not without risk. However, health might be the only thing to trip him up at this point.
Twins Lose Sano, Gain Romero
Over the weekend, the Twins said Miguel Sano’s left hamstring injury was minor. However, as hamstring ailments can tend to be, it would up being worse than expected.
Sano attempted to do some running on Monday, “and it didn’t go particularly well,” manager Paul Molitor said. It’s now looking like the first baseman could be headed to the disabled list.
“He’s not making a lot of progress,” Molitor said. “I was hoping by Day 3 we’d be seeing [him] a little bit better, being in a better position to get him back in the lineup.”
Complicating matters for the Twins is that with Sano unavailable, they’ve been operating with a two-man bench. It’s a situation that’s untenable, so it seems likely that Sano will be placed on the DL unless he shows significant improvement Tuesday.
Ehire Adrianza has been picking up extra playing time with Sano out, as he’s starting at shortstop with Eduardo Escobar sliding over to third base. Escobar popped his fourth home run of the season Monday and is sporting a .301/.348/.578 batting line. He’s batted cleanup each of the last three contests with Sano sidelined. The 29-year-old slugged 21 longballs in 2017 and has shortstop, second and third base eligibility on Yahoo, where he’s currently available in nearly 70 percent of leagues. He’s not a bad guy to target if you’re looking for a replacement for Seager.
While the Twins might be subtracting Sano, they are about to add their best pitching prospect. Fernando Romero is coming up from Triple-A Rochester to make his major league debut Wednesday against the Blue Jays.
Romero, 23, has emerged as a top prospect since returning from Tommy John surgery that knocked him out for all of 2015. The right-hander has posted a 2.57 ERA and 20/10 K/BB ratio over his first 21 innings at Triple-A Rochester this season and can touch the upper-90s on the radar gun with his heater. He had a dominant spring training for the Twins, throwing eight hitless innings with an 8/1 K/BB ratio.
Romero lacks consistency with his changeup and can have control problems at times as the above numbers indicate, but he has an exciting arm that has the potential to miss bats. He has immediate streamer appeal and is worth speculating on in deeper formats. Phil Hughes is headed to the bullpen to accommodate Romero.
American League Quick Hits: Xander Bogaerts went 3-for-5 and hit his second grand slam of the year as the Red Sox topped the Royals on Monday … Jake Faria struck out six across eight shutout innings Monday in Detroit … Trevor Bauer struck out 11 batters over 6 2/3 innings Monday, allowing two runs in a no-decision versus the Rangers … Mookie Betts (hamstring) sat out a second straight game Monday but was available off the bench … Byron Buxton hasn’t done any running to test out his injured left big toe yet, as he remains too sore … Miguel Cabrera (biceps) sat out Monday’s game … Mitch Moreland went 3-for-4 with a homer, a double and three runs scored Monday against the Royals … Jordan Zimmermann whiffed five and gave up just two hits over seven scoreless frames Monday against the Rays … Rangers general manager Jon Daniels indicated Monday that Rougned Odor (hamstring) is at least another week away from returning … Mike Moustakas left Monday’s game after being hit on the right forearm by a pitch, but X-rays came back negative … Randal Grichuk landed on the disabled list Monday with a sprained PCL and he’s expected to miss three weeks … Daniel Norris will be sidelined for 8-12 weeks following groin surgery …
National League Quick Hits: A.J. Pollock slugged three solo homers in Monday’s victory over the Dodgers … Robbie Ray was officially placed on the disabled list Monday and has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 right oblique strain … Anthony Rendon (toe) could begin a rehab assignment or potentially be activated as soon as Tuesday … The Rockies activated Carlos Gonzalez (hamstring) from the DL but placed DJ LeMahieu (hamstring) on the DL … Josh Hader struck out eight of the nine hitters he faced for his fourth save Monday against the Reds … Joe Panik will be sidelined for the next six weeks after having surgery Monday to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb … Brian Anderson went 3-for-4 with a homer, four RBI, and two runs scored Monday in the Marlins’ victory over the Phillies … Lorenzo Cain hit a two-run homer, walked and stole a base Monday in the Brewers’ defeat of the Reds … Eugenio Suarez knocked in four of the Reds’ five runs with a double and a single Monday against the Brewers … Nick Kingham will remain in the Pirates’ rotation, pushing Steven Brault to the bullpen … Scooter Gennett underwent an MRI on Monday due to a sore right shoulder and won’t start for a few days at minimum … David Peralta left Monday’s game against the Dodgers after being hit on the right hand by a pitch …