A team without the luxury of losing a starting pitcher suffered an even bigger loss Sunday -- the loss of an All-Star starting pitcher.
Brandon Woodruff will likely be placed on the 10-day injured list Monday after he suffered a strained left oblique during Sunday's start against the Diamondbacks. Woodruff sustained the injury in the fourth inning and left the game immediately.
“I came out for the fourth inning there and warmup pitches were all good, and then that first pitch I threw in the fourth, I kind of felt a little grab, nothing too big,” Woodruff said after the game. “But then, the second pitch, I really felt it grab pretty good. Hopefully it’s precautionary, hopefully it doesn’t take too long, hopefully I’ll get over it pretty quick and get back to pitching.”
He'll undergo an MRI during a visit with Dr. William Raasch in Milwaukee on Monday.
“Until then, that’s all we really have,” manager Craig Counsell said. “No real idea on the severity of it right now, but it’s enough where he definitely misses a start.”
The problem for the Brewers is that any period of time is too long to be without Woodruff, who's been a revelation this season. The 26-year-old is 11-3 with a 3.75 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 136/29 K/BB ratio in 117 2/3 innings of work this season, and recently appeared in his first All-Star Game for the National League.
If there's a silver lining, it might be the timing of the injury. With 10 days until the trade deadline, the Brewers find themselves in a Wild Card spot and now much decide how they will approach adding talent at the deadline. The Woodruff injury creates another need; how far are they willing to go to fill it?
Of course, their first hope is that they won't need to fill it for long. They'll know more about their needs -- and the right-hander's outlook -- come Monday.
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It's Always Smyly In Philadelphia
Drew Smyly was terrific on Sunday.
The question now is, should we care?
Well, we shouldn't *not* care. Smyly struck out eight while allowing a lone run over six innings Sunday against the Pirates, looking nothing like the pitcher who was designated for assignment by the Rangers last month.
There's a reason for that. From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
The Phillies asked Smyly to attack the Pirates with his cutter, throw his fastball up in the zone, and then unleash the funky curveball. It worked. Smyly allowed just one run in six innings, walked two, and allowed four hits. He looked like quite a different pitcher than the one who had a 7.90 ERA this season in nine starts with Texas.
“I was pretty predictable in Texas,” Smyly said. “I wasn't good. I didn't perform well. I got designated for assignment. I know what I'm capable of. I've had a lot of good seasons in the past before my Tommy John surgery. So I just need to get back. The game has changed a little bit in the last two years and I just have to get back to attacking hitters and keeping them off balance. I think I have a good idea of how to do that now.”
Smyly's terrible tenure in Texas can't be forgotten, but it also can't be forgotten that was an effective pitcher for years before injury derailed his career. It's now close to half a decade ago, but the southpaw posted a 3.11 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 12 starts with the Rays in 2015.
We've seen numerous examples of pitchers changing their approach with success in recent years, with guys like Charlie Morton, Rich Hill and Matthew Boyd among the faces of the revolution. Is Smyly the next in line? Let's not get ahead of ourselves. But he's suddenly more interesting than he was a few days ago.
“It’s certainly encouraging and we look forward to his next start,” manager Gabe Kapler said.
In a landscape with few teams truly out of contention, the Blue Jays have no uncertainty about their role at the upcoming trade deadline.
Nearly 20 games out of a playoff spot, the Jays are set to be sellers at the deadline. And although it's still 10 days away, the rumors are already flying about some of the club's most interesting names.
Late Sunday, MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported that the Red Sox are showing "active interest" in closer Ken Giles, as well as Padres closer Kirby Yates. The Yankees and Twins are among the teams also believed to have interest in the right-hander in some capacity.
Speaking of the Yankees and Twins, the clubs are also rumored to be in on Jays starter Marcus Stroman, possibly in a deal that would include both Stroman and Giles. Earlier Sunday, Morosi said the Twins are "showing continued interest" in the 28-year-old Stroman, and on Friday Morosi said the Yankees had a "significant scouting presence" at Stroman's start against the Tigers in which he tossed seven scoreless innings. The Phillies also have rumored interest in Stroman.
National League Quick Hits: Walker Buehler was nearly untouchable Sunday, striking out 11 Marlins over seven scoreless innings in a 9-0 shutout. Buehler was very much present on this day, bringing all his tools to the yard -- spotting his fastball, snapping off breaking balls and generally keeping Marlins hitters off balance all afternoon. He gave up just five hits and didn't walk a batter, needing just 94 pitches to get through his seven spotless innings. The tremendous start improved him to 9-1 with a 3.23 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 131/17 K/BB ratio over 117 innings this year. ... Jean Segura was lifted from Sunday's game against the Pirates due to renewed soreness in his left heel. Segura has been dealing with soreness in the heel for the past week and it flared up on him again. It's probably a day-to-day situation, but the Phillies could have more on his status after the game. ... Kevin Gausman was terrific in his return from the injured list on Sunday night, allowing just one run on five hits over seven-plus innings in a victory over the Nationals. The right-hander racked up eight strikeouts on the night and didn't walk a batter. Gausman will look to replicate this fine effort and further improve upon his 5.71 ERA and 1.43 WHIP when he does battle against the Phillies in Philadelphia on Saturday. ... A.J. Pollock went 3-for-4 with a home run, a stolen base, four RBI and two runs scored in Sunday's win over the Marlins. In nine games since his activation from the injured list, the outfielder is hitting .406 with four homers, 12 RBI, eight runs and both his stolen bases. He's just red hot right now. ... Tyler Saladino hit a grand slam in the fourth inning Sunday, leading the comeback as the Brewers bested the Diamondbacks 7-4. Few things in life are as unexpected as a Tyler Saladino grand slam. ... Mike Yastrzemski hit an opposite-field, walk-off solo home run in the 12th inning to give the Giants a 3-2 win over the Mets on Sunday. Not short on power, Yastrzemski now has nine homers in 48 games but owns a pedestrian .259 batting average and .303 on-base percentage in those 48 games. He's part of a suddenly-crowded outfield situation in San Francisco. ... Anthony DeSclafani struck out 11 while allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits over six innings in Sunday's 3-1 loss to the Cardinals. DeSclafani did not walk a batter in this beaut of an outing, but alas, the Reds' offense was unable to gain any sort of traction to give him a little help. ... Zack Wheeler (shoulder) said he felt "very good" during a bullpen session Sunday. It looks like he will return during the Mets' series against the Padres this week, although that hasn't officially been announced yet. Wheeler hasn't made a start in over a week because of right shoulder fatigue, but he resumed throwing a few days ago and is trending in the right direction. If he is able to start in a couple days, he should be able to get in two starts prior to the trade deadline at the end of the month.
American League Quick Hits: Blake Snell struck out 10 batters over six scoreless innings in a win over the White Sox on Sunday. Snell generated an absurd 25 swinging strikes en route to his fifth double-digit strikeout performance of the season. The 26-year-old southpaw was in complete control, limiting the White Sox to just three hits and a pair of walks over six brilliant frames. With the victory, Snell improves to 6-7 overall and will carry a 4.28 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 136/35 K/BB ratio into his next start against the Blue Jays on Sunday. ... Byron Buxton (concussion) could be activated from the injured list on Monday. Buxton went through all pregame activities on Sunday and didn't have any issues. He will be re-evaluated on Monday and it appears that he will be activated, barring a setback. Buxton has missed the last week of action with a concussion. ... Asher Wojciechowski was dominant in Sunday's 5-0 win over the Red Sox, striking out 10 while allowing just one hit across 7 1/3 scoreless innings. Wojciechowski actually had a no-hitter working through six innings before Rafael Devers led off the seventh with a double to snap the veteran right-hander's shot at history. He wrapped his superlative afternoon having thrown 105 pitches (68 for strikes). ... Albert Pujols went 2-for-3 with a home run -- one of four the Angels hit on Sunday afternoon -- two RBI and two runs scored in a 9-3 victory over the Mariners. Pujols is in the sunset of his career but at least he's showing signs of life lately, batting .359 with two homers, 15 RBI and seven runs scored this month. ... Max Kepler went 3-for-6 with a three-run homer and a walk-off RBI single in the ninth inning to propel the Twins to a 7-6 comeback victory over the Athletics on Sunday. The dynamic 26-year-old outfielder is now up to 24 round-trippers on the season and has gone deep three times in nine games since the All-Star break. He has a realistic shot at eclipsing the vaunted 40-homer plateau with a strong second-half performance. ... Lance Lynn struck out a season-high 12 batters over seven innings in a loss against the Astros on Sunday. Lynn's 12 strikeouts matched his previous career-high, established back on June 13, 2012. The 32-year-old righty has put together an unbelievable renaissance campaign with the Rangers, recording five double-digit strikeout performances this season. ... Rays placed OF Kevin Kiermaier on the 10-day injured list with a sprained left thumb. The good news is the team says Kiermaier's ligament is intact and he will not require surgery. He is hoping to be back in 10-15 days. Guillermo Heredia is replacing Kiermaier on the roster and should see starts in center field, although the Rays could also use Austin Meadows and/or Tommy Pham there. ... Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Sunday that Brad Peacock (shoulder) will likely be sidelined until mid-August. "I don’t think he'll be back this month," Luhnow said. "I think he’ll be back more middle of next month, realistically." Peacock has been on the injured list since late June with a right shoulder issue and had a setback just before the All-Star break. Him being unavailable for another month or so only increases the team's need to add rotation help at the trade deadline.