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Baseball Daily Dose

Daily Dose: Peak Paxton

by Matt Stroup
Updated On: April 17, 2019, 11:45 am ET

When the Red Sox and Yankees met in the Bronx on Tuesday, it was the latest chance to put struggling lefty Chris Sale under the velocity microscope as he tried to kickstart his season.

Here’s the good news: Sale’s much-discussed fastball did climb into the 97-98 mph range, and averaged 95.5 mph for Tuesday’s game. He also had a season-high six strikeouts after totaling eight in his first three starts. The bad news: He gave up seven hits and four earned runs in five innings, while dropping to 0-4 with an 8.50 ERA (as the reigning World Series champs dropped to 6-12 on the season). And though Sale was understandably not pleased, as far as Sale’s fantasy owners are concerned, this has to count as progress.

To focus only on Sale would be selling short his counterpart on the mound, James Paxton, who had given fantasy owners some cause for concern as well. Paxton certainly hadn’t struggled on the same level as Sale this season, but he did bring a 6.00 ERA into Wednesday’s game on the heels of a rough start against the Astros last week. That all changed on Tuesday, when Paxton was absolutely dominant against Boston — ripping through the lineup with eight shutout innings (and a heater in the upper 90’s of his own), allowing just two hits and one walk with 12 strikeouts to bring his ERA back down to 3.91, and bring this brief intro on struggling lefties to an end.

Left-Handed Tuesday

Now, a few more notes on a night that in many ways (both good and bad) belonged to lefties:

*Jose Quintana (previously struggling, also left-handed) was outstanding for a second straight start: seven shutout innings, six hits, no walks, seven strikeouts. He has now thrown 14 consecutive scoreless innings over those two starts, with an 18/1 K/BB ratio to drop his ERA from 10.29 to 3.43. If you drafted him, you've gone from being worried to looking smart pretty quickly.

*Speaking of smart picks, Tigers lefty Matthew Boyd (Yahoo ADP: 232.9) struck out seven in a no-decision against the Pirates, and now has a 36/7 K/BB ratio in his 24 1/3 innings this season.

*Steven Matz allowed eight runs (six earned) without recording an out, as his ERA jumped to 4.96 (he had posted a 1.65 ERA through his first three starts this season).

*Hyun-Jin Ryu is set to return to the Dodgers’ rotation in the next week without needing a rehab start.

*Mike Minor (19% rostered in Yahoo leagues) threw a complete-game shutout against the Angels — the first of his career. With a 2.60 ERA so far, the 31-year-old is making his bid to be more than just a streaming option in fantasy leagues. Along those lines, it’s worth noting that this resurgence isn’t totally out of nowhere for Minor, who had a 4.18 ERA and 1.12 WHIP with a 132/38 K/BB ratio in 157 innings last season. 

*Meanwhile, Braves lefty Max Fried allowed two runs in six innings as his ERA actually climbed… to 0.92. Fried’s last three starts: 18 innings, two earned runs, two walks, 12 strikeouts. His roster percentage in Yahoo leagues has also surged, from around 30% last week — up closer to 70.

East Coast Infirmary

First things first — and yes, it pertains to a lefty — the Rays placed Blake Snell on the 10-day IL (retroactive to April 14) with a fractured fourth right toe, an injury sustained as most broken toes come to pass: in the shower. As scary as a broken anything may sound, the plan is for Snell to only miss one start before potentially making it back on April 24. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner has a 2.16 ERA, 0.76 WHIP and 36/4 K/BB ratio in his first four starts this season.

Elsewhere in the East…

Jean Segura left Tuesday’s game with what’s being called a mild left hamstring strain. He’s set to be reevaluated on Wednesday, and if he needs a trip to the IL, Scott Kingery looks like a worthwhile pickup. Kingery homered and drove in five on Tuesday, raising his average to .524 in limited at-bats early on.

In other Philly injury news, David Robertson (elbow) was diagnosed with a Grade 1 flexor strain. This sounds relatively encouraging for Robertson all things considered, and he will reportedly be reevaluated in a couple of days.

In New York, the injury absurdity continued, as the Yankees put Greg Bird on the 10-day IL with a left plantar fascia tear. Bird, who had a .550 OPS through 10 games, will reportedly be in a walking boot for two weeks before he’s reevaluated. Mike Ford took Bird’s roster spot, but Luke Voit should be set for regular at-bats at first base as long as Bird is out. 

On a positive Yankees injury note, Aaron Hicks (back) hit off the tee, ran and threw on the field Tuesday, and is slated for BP on Wednesday or Thursday as he works toward a return. And Troy Tulowitzki (calf) took BP in the cage and ran on the field.

Also in New York: Brandon Nimmo left Tuesday’s game with what’s being called a stiff neck. He’s not expected to play on Wednesday (and the Mets are off Thursday), which sets up Nimmo to possibly return to action on Friday.

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AL Quick Hits: Andrew Benintendi (foot) missed his second straight game and remains day-to-day, while Jackie Bradley (illness) returned to the lineup. … The Red Sox DFA’d Blake Swihart and recalled Sandy Leon.Shohei Ohtani (elbow) won’t need a rehab assignment before returning as a DH, but he remains on course to return to the Angels lineup in May. … Just as he was warming up, Chris Davis was scratched from Tuesday’s lineup due to an illness. … Matt Olson (hand) swung a fungo bat Tuesday as he continues his recovery from a fractured hamate bone. … Clint Frazier hit his fourth homer, while Mike Tauchman hit his first big league homer and drove in a career-high four runs. … Yoan Moncada crushed his fourth and fifth home runs of the season. ... Andrew Heaney (elbow) is aiming to throw off a mound in the next 10-12 days. … Justin Upton (toe) is set to have his walking boot removed in about a week. The earliest he might potentially return is late May, though odds are he won’t be back until June. … Asdrubal Cabrera homered for the third time in four games, giving him six on the year. ... The electric Tyler Glasnow moved to 4-0 behind seven innings of two-run ball with three strikeouts, with his season ERA now sitting at 1.13. … Avisail Garcia homered and stole a base, is now hitting .327, and is rostered in just 6% of Yahoo leagues.

NL Quick Hits: Garrett Hampson (25% rostered in Yahoo leagues) hit his first career homer, and picked up his first stolen base of the season. ... Also for the Rockies: David Dahl (core) played in an extended spring training game Tuesday and is eligible to return as soon as Thursday. Ryan McMahon also played in an extended spring training game as he gets close to a return to game action as well. … Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com reports that FA Craig Kimbrel is “moving closer” to a decision, though there’s still “no clear favorite.” Atlanta continues to look like a team in (desperate) need of Kimbrel's services as closer A.J. Minter took the loss after giving up three runs in two-thirds of an inning Tuesday, raising his ERA to 9.64. ... The Braves have decided that Mike Foltynewicz (elbow) will make another rehab start this weekend.  …  The Brewers activated Jeremy Jeffress, who could soon get into the saves mix in Milwaukee. … Tyler O’Neill hit the injured list with a right elbow nerve subluxation, while Harrison Bader (hamstring) did some running on the field in Milwaukee and appears to be close to a return. … Rhys Hoskins wasn’t in the lineup Tuesday due to a sore ankle, but is expected to return Wednesday. … The Brewers placed Freddy Peralta (shoulder) on the 10-day IL. … Joey Votto hit leadoff on Tuesday for just the second time in his career. … Javier Baez's third consecutive three-hit game included his fifth home run of the season. … Cody Bellinger (bruised knee) was out of the lineup, but did run in the outfield before Tuesday’s game, and made an appearance in the on-deck circle in the 8th inning before being called back — suggesting that he won't be out long. Justin Turner (ankle, hamstring, also day-to-day) was out of the lineup as well. … Joc Pederson hit home run No. 8 against the Reds. ... Anthony Rendon and the Nationals reportedly met on Tuesday to continue talking about a potential extension.  … Christian Yelich launched his ninth dinger, upping his RBI total to 25. … Marcell Ozuna has hit five home runs in five games since his infamous wall fail, and seven homers in his last nine games overall.

Matt Stroup

Matt Stroup covers basketball, football and sometimes baseball for NBC Sports Edge — and has covered eight Olympics as a TV writer for NBC. An avid fantasy player and rabid Atlanta sports fan since the 1990s, he would golf, bowl and play pickup basketball 365 days a year if it was acceptable. You can follow him on Twitter @MattStroup