Red Sox Place Chris Sale On DL

The Red Sox announced that they’ve placed left-handed ace Chris Sale on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to Aug. 15, with mild inflammation in his pitching shoulder. The club recalled righty Brandon Workman from Triple-A Pawtucket in a corresponding move.

Sale previously went to the DL on July 31 (retroactive to the 28th) with the same injury, which perhaps makes this an alarming development for Boston. However, given that the Red Sox own the American League’s best record by a comfortable 10 1/2 games, this may be a precautionary move on their part as the playoffs draw closer. The last time he hit the DL, Sale missed a limited amount of time, returning Aug. 12 to run roughshod over the toothless Orioles in a five-inning, one-hit, 12-strikeout performance.

With his latest outing factored in, Sale has pitched to a stunning 1.97 ERA/1.96 FIP with 13.5 K/9 against 2.03 BB/9 in 146 innings this season. Even though 13 other AL starters have racked up more innings than Sale, he paces the league in fWAR (6.0). The seven-time All-Star, 29, may be on his way to his first Cy Young Award, then, though an extended stay on the shelf could derail that effort.

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Nationals Place Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy On Revocable Trade Waivers

Per a report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Nationals have placed a number of players on revocable trade waivers, including outfielder Bryce Harper and second baseman Daniel Murphy.

Of course, the mere fact that both players were placed on waivers doesn’t mean anything in and of itself. As Rosenthal himself notes, virtually every player in MLB will be placed on trade waivers at some point in August, so there’s no way to gauge the Nats’ intentions with Harper and Murphy at this time. There’s little reason not to put these players through trade waivers, actually, since there’s no risk involved on the move. If they clear, the Nationals have the ability to trade either one at any point between now and August 31st. If one is claimed, the club can either choose to work out a deal with the claiming team or simply pull the player back off waivers.

[RELATED: How August Trades Work]

But while the move itself doesn’t bear much in the way of consequences, the responses hereafter will certainly merit close attention, particularly in regards to Harper. Though much was made of the 25-year-old’s somewhat forgettable start to the season, he’s put the campaigns first four months firmly in the rearview mirror by batting a titanic .400/.474/.750 with five home runs so far in the month of August. As Rosenthal notes, Harper’s owed about $5MM more over the remainder of 2018, and if he’s able to continue at anything close to his current pace, he’d certainly be a tremendous asset to any contending club.

The easiest scenario to imagine involving Harper is that he’ll be claimed by a contending National League team, the two sides won’t be able to work out a deal, and the Nats will ultimately revoke the claim, keeping Harper in Washington for the remainder of the season. Trading him, after all, would firmly indicate that the organization is punting the 2018 season, and such a signal to the fans would be a public relations disaster. That disaster would be made even worse should the club experience a sudden hot streak and vault themselves within reach of a playoff spot, only to be without their best hitter.

The timing of the deal, however, has some interesting implications. It’s unclear when exactly when this move was made, and at this time on Thursday the club was mired in the throes of a four-game losing streak and sat a full nine games back of the division-leading Braves. While they’ve won their last two games since then to put a dent in that lead, they’re still seven games behind the Braves, not to mention two back of the Phillies. Their Wild Card outlook isn’t any better; they’re five games back of Milwaukee for the second spot with the Cardinals, Rockies and Dodgers all ahead of them. It’s not at all outlandish to think that now might be the right time for the Nats to try and get whatever they can in return for Harper while saving $5MM in a lost season.

Murphy is the likelier of the two to clear waivers, though he’s no sure bet himself. He’s owed $4MM across the remainder of the season, but has experienced somewhat of a resurgence lately himself. The 33-year-old free agent to be has been crushing baseballs since the All-Star break, posting a .354/.386/.563 batting line with five homers and a strikeout rate in the single digits. There are plenty of contenders who might benefit from adding him to their infield, even if he hasn’t exactly impressed defensively.

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Pitcher Notes: Stroman, Syndergaard, Ray, Cobb

Somewhat overlooked in last night’s rain-shortened 7-5 loss to the Yankees was the fact that Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman experienced a resurfacing of his blister issues. Though Stroman himself didn’t speak to reporters after the game, manager John Gibbons told reporters that Stroman’s blister tore in the seventh inning of a recent dominant start against the Red Sox (h/t Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca). Gibbons also admitted that the club is considering a DL stint in order to get Stroman right again after he took 88 pitches to get through four innings last night (while giving up five earned runs).

More notes on a few pitchers around the league…

  • Packed deep in a piece by Laura Albanese of Newsday are a few notable quotes by Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard that shed some (admittedly vague) light on his struggles and seeming fall from “ace” status. Not only is Thor upset about his inability to hold baserunners (the Phillies swiped five bags off him and batterymate Kevin Plawecki last night), but he also hinted at some wider mechanical issues he’s trying to work through. “It’s something I battle every day when I go out there,” said Syndergaard. “I’m just trying to correct a lot of things that I’ve been doing wrong for a long time.”
  • Elsewhere in the National League, Diamondbacks lefty Robbie Ray still hasn’t been able to get back on track, as Nick Piecoro details in a piece for the Arizona Republic. After a breakout 2017 campaign, Ray’s been unable to deliver any semblance of a repeat performance this season after starting the year with diminished velocity and succumbing to an oblique injury. After walking five batters last night, Ray had the following to say about his command issues. “I just need to get back to what I do best and that’s pound the zone. I’ve got too good of stuff to be pitching around the zone. I’ve just got to attack guys and then my off-speed stuff gets better.” Interestingly, Ray felt confident while warming up yesterday and felt in complete command of his pitches. He wonders whether a “lack of focus” could be to blame.
  • Though the early returns of the Alex Cobb signing didn’t look good for the Orioles, the return to effectiveness of his change-up seems to have vaulted the right-hander back to his previous form, as Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun details in this piece. He notes that Cobb’s given up just nine hits on 184 change-ups since the All-Star break. His confidence in the pitch has led to him almost doubling its usage lately, and the results have spoken for themselves. Cobb’s strung together four consecutive quality starts of late, posting a 2.08 ERA with a 54.9% ground ball rate during that span.

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International Notes: Rule Changes, Japan, Latin America, Mexico,

MLB has implemented some changes to their international signing rules and regulations, and Ben Badler of Baseball America is right on top of it with the details. Among the most notable rule changes are 1) that amateur players will now be allowed to enter team facilities earlier, specifically 18 months before they become eligible to sign, and 2) teams can pay for travel expenses earlier in the process for all international players. Badler notes that the latter change will affect recruiting in Venezuela. Also outlined in the piece are rule changes that impact international tryout players’ allotted time at team facilities, others that impact showcases, and some that relate to travel expenses. Avid followers of MLB’s international signing process ought to give the piece a full read in order to stay up to speed.

And now some other notes from around the globe…

  • While there won’t be a player of Shohei Ohtani’s caliber coming to MLB from Japan this coming offseason, one impact player could still make his way over. MLB.com’s Jon Morosi writes that left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, who currently pitches for the Saitama Seibu Lions, could potentially make himself available through the posting system. There’s a widespread believe that Kikuchi could elevate himself to No. 2 starter status in the major leagues, thanks in part to a 92-94 MPH fastball that can touch 96 at times. Though he’s spent some time on the disabled list this season and seen his command diminish slightly from an otherworldly 2017 campaign, the southpaw would no doubt attract plenty of suitors on the free agent market.
  • Back to Badler, who has some details on a budding “Trainer Partnership Program” with Latin America. The movement comes as part of a broader effort to cut down on steroid use from amateur players. Recently, the league held meetings with several of the most prominent trainers in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. At least 50 have agreed to join the new program, which will serve as a way for MLB to “certify” trainers who have agreed to comply with league standards.
  • Yet a third piece from Badler details how the Cubs essentially lost their top 2017 international prospect. At the time Chicago signed right-hander Florencio Serrano for $1.2MM out of Mexico, Baseball America had him ranked as the 29th-best prospect in that international draft class. But MLB didn’t approve the contract, and actually ended up suspending the entire signing system for Mexican players owing in part to technicalities within the international signing restrictions. The piece gives some interesting insight into just how detailed the whole process is, and how even painstaking attention to technicalities can’t always subvert the spirit of the rules.

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MLB Daily Roster Roundup: Jones, Kinsler, Springer, Votto

ROSTER MOVES BY TEAM
(August 17th)

NATIONAL LEAGUE

AMERICAN LEAGUE

  • BOSTON RED SOX Depth Chart
    • Activated from 10-Day DL: 2B Ian Kinsler
      • Kinsler played 2B and batted 6th on Friday.
    • Placed on 10-Day DL: 3B Rafael Devers (strained hamstring)

FUTURE EXPECTED MOVES

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