Baseball Daily Dose

For Tigers, Future is Now

by Nathan Grimm
Updated On: August 18, 2020, 11:16 am ET

The future arrived in Detroit on Monday.

And again.

And, again.

The Tigers announced they're ready to see what the kids can do when they promoted not one, not two, but three top prospects ahead of their series against the White Sox. Pitchers Tarik Skubal and Casey Mize - the latter the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft - and infielder Isaac Paredes were all activated on Monday, injecting a dose of excitement to a franchise that has had little about which to get excited in recent years.

"It's the proper time," Tigers general manager Al Avila told reporters in a Zoom call Monday.  "It's performance based from here on out. As I said before, when we brought these guys up, we want them here to stay. We'll see how it turns out."

Paredes was immediately inserted into the lineup for Monday's tilt, starting at third base and batting eighth against White Sox starter Gio Gonzalez. He didn't wait long to give Tigers fans something to cheer about, delivering a bases-loaded single to score two runs in his second major league at-bat.

Tigers fans won't have to bide their time much longer to get glimpses of the other two. Skubal is set to start Tuesday's contest, with Mize slated to go Wednesday.

Skubal, a 23-year-old lefty, throws four pitches with his two best being a mid-90s fastball and a hard slider. Between High-A and Double-A last year Skubal posted a 2.42 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 179/37 K/BB ratio across 122 2/3 innings.

Mize, 23, is a right-hander whose calling card has been his splitter since he was the top pick in 2018. He also boasts a mid-90s fastball and a hard slider like Skubal, but the splitter is likely to be what earns him his keep at the highest level. Last year, Mize owned a 2.55 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 106/23 K/BB ratio in 109 1/3 innings split between High-A and Double-A.

Both starters are players worth targeting in mixed leagues, even if they might be up and down in their first tour of duty in the majors. Paredes is best left for deep mixed leagues and AL-only leagues, at least until he forces his way into the conversation for shallower mixed leagues.

Not Good, Pham

Tommy Pham can't catch a break, except when it's a bad one.

The snakebitten outfielder received more bad news Monday when he underwent surgery to repair a broken hamate bone in his left hand. Pham will likely miss four-to-six weeks, more or less ending his regular season.

“We’ve just got to see how his treatment and his progression back goes,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said. “Historically, it’s four to six weeks. We’ll see. Tommy’s a different bird. He’s got a really high pain tolerance. Cautiously optimistic there.”

Pham suffered the injury on a swing during Sunday's game. The Padres initially said he was removed from the game due to numbness in his hand.

The blow is a big one for both Pham and the Padres. For the 32-year-old, it's yet another injury in a career that's been littered with them. Pham has a 162-game average of 23 homers and 21 steals with a .274/.370/.464 line during his time in the majors, but unfortunately he's averaged 108 games over the past five full seasons. This season he had two homers and a league-leading six steals in 23 games, hitting .207/.316/.293.

In his absence, the Friars will likely mix and match in left field. Jurickson Profar started in left on Monday, and Edward Olivares, Abraham Almonte and Jorge Mateo have also logged time in left field this year. Josh Naylor is also expected to get plenty of run in the corner outfield spot.

The most interesting of that group for fantasy purposes is Mateo, who has speed to burn if he can get in the lineup regularly. The reality likely is that the Padres will use their options such that no single player, at least in the early days, plays often enough to be considered a regular fill-in for the departed Pham.

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Mercado Sent Out

2020 has been a year to forget.

That's especially true for Oscar Mercado.

Hyped coming into the year as a sleeper who could deliver across-the-board fantasy stats atop a stout Indians lineup, the 25-year-old has struggled mightily in the truncated season's first few weeks and on Monday was optioned to the team's alternate training site. No corresponding roster move was made, but catcher Roberto Perez is expected to be activated Tuesday ahead of their series with the Pirates.

Mercado hit .269/.318/.443 with 15 homers and 15 steals in 115 games in his debut season in 2019, and he batted second in 98 of those 115 games. That led many to believe he'd continue to hit near the top of the lineup around guys like Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana and Franmil Reyes.

The fact that he's not a great on-base player coupled with the Indians' signing of Cesar Hernandez to man the keystone pushed Mercado down their lineup to start the year, and his .111/.167/.111 line through his first 17 games did nothing to help his cause. He has just one stolen base and no extra-base hits in those 17 games.

“Well, he had gotten himself into a rut,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of Mercado prior to Saturday’s game. “And he felt like he was pulling off. So he kind of closed his stance, but then that made him pull off more. And I understand it. I mean, I've been through that. So we're trying to get him to kind of be more balanced, more even.”

Mercado will now work through things in the minors, leaving Delino DeShields Jr. to man center field for the time being. Bradley Zimmer might also see time there as the Tribe tries to cobble together a starting outfield.

Both players are mildly interesting for fantasy but DeShields' case is certainly compelling. It's been a long few years for the 28-year-old but he's got six hits in his first 18 at-bats this year and has also walked (4) as many times as he's struck out (4) to date. Of course, his speed is his bread and butter, so if he continues to get on base at the bottom of the Indians lineup he could produce some cheap stolen bases for fantasy players in the market.

National League Quick Hits: According to C. Trent Rosecrans, there were no new positive COVID-19 results in the Reds' latest round of testing. The one positive COVID-19 test result from Friday remains an outlier, and it sounds like the Reds might be able to resume play on Tuesday night in Kansas City. Rosecrans adds, however, that they could be shorthanded with some players still in quarantine as a result of contact tracing. Look for a number of roster moves ahead of Tuesday's scheduled game against the Royals, assuming the Reds do indeed get the go-ahead to return ... Jacob deGrom (neck) is scheduled to return to the Mets' starting rotation on Wednesday versus the Marlins. The reigning back-to-back National League Cy Young Award winner had to be scratched from his last turn Friday against the Phillies because of a neck issue, but he threw a side session without issue on Monday and has been given the go-ahead to pitch Wednesday in Miami. DeGrom is 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA and 28/5 K/BB ratio through 22 innings of work (four starts) this season for New York ... Braves manager Brian Snitker said Monday that there is still no timetable for Ronald Acuna's (wrist) return from the injured list. Acuna was placed on the 10-day injured on Saturday, retroactive to August 11, due to lingering left wrist inflammation. He's going to need longer than 10 days but will hopefully be ready around the end of this month or the beginning of September. The 22-year-old outfielder was batting .258/.372/.515 with four home runs, nine RBI, one stolen base, and 12 runs scored through 18 games played this season ... According to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune, Kirby Yates is likely to have season-ending surgery on his right elbow. Yates was placed on the injured list Saturday after being diagnosed with bone chips in the back of his right elbow and flew to Dallas on Monday for a second opinion from elbow specialist Dr. Keith Meister. The procedure to remove those bone chips wouldn't normally be a season-ending thing, but we're already into mid-August and his rehabilitation figures to stretch into at least early-to-mid October. Drew Pomeranz has taken over as the primary closer in San Diego, and Emilio Pagan is probably now the secondary option there ... Jeff McNeil (knee) was back in the Mets' starting lineup on Monday night against the Marlins. McNeil played DH and batted second versus Miami right-hander Jordan Yamamoto after missing a handful of games with a bone contusion in his left knee. He went 1-for-4 with an RBI in the lopsided win ... Carlos Martinez (undisclosed) has been cleared to resume workouts, per Cardinals manager Mike Shildt. It was never confirmed that Martinez tested positive for COVID-19, but he is currently on the COVID-19 injured list. Shildt said the Cardinals are working on a rehab plan that will allow him to return to the active roster at some point soon. Edmundo Sosa (COVID-19) has also been cleared to resume participating in workouts ... Howie Kendrick (hamstring) remained out of the Nationals' starting lineup on Monday. It was the third straight absence for Kendrick, who's been working through some hamstring tightness ... The Padres have pushed back Chris Paddack and Dinelson Lamet in their rotation for this week. They are now expected to go on Wednesday and Thursday respectively, likely to just provide some extra rest. Adrian Morejon will be called up to start Tuesday ... Freddie Freeman hit second Monday against the Nationals. Freeman has been the primary No. 3 hitter for the Braves in recent years, but they are getting creative with Ronald Acuna, Jr. and Ozzie Albies both sidelined with wrist injuries. Travis d'Arnaud moved into the third spot against righty Anibal Sanchez ... Padres manager Jayce Tingler said Wil Myers (back) has a "good shot" to return on Tuesday. Myers made an early exit from Saturday night's game against the Diamondbacks due to tightness in his back, but it's not an overly serious issue. The 29-year-old has delivered a stellar .969 OPS with five home runs, 12 RBI, one stolen base, and 10 runs scored through 21 games played this season with San Diego.

American League Quick Hits: According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, Indians reliever Oliver Perez threatened to opt out if the team brought back Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac for their weekend series in Detroit. Clevinger and Plesac were recently demoted after breaking team protocol and going out in Chicago on August 7. The episode - which included Clevinger not being honest about his actions - disappointed and angered many teammates. Perez threatened to opt out during a team meeting on Friday and shortstop Francisco Lindor was critical of the pitchers' actions. It's unclear when either will return or what their future could be with the team, but Passan also noted the team could manipulate both players' service time by keeping them down for 18 games in Plesac's case and 20 games in Clevinger's. It wouldn't be beyond an organization to try to recoup some savings while also sending a message ... An MRI taken Monday on Yordan Alvarez's right knee turned up negative. A negative is a positive in this situation, which is a necessary disclaimer in this pandemic baseball season. Alvarez remains out of the Astros' starting lineup on Monday night against the Rockies, but he could be available to pinch hit, and the young slugger seems poised to make a full return at some point this week ... Sportsnet's Shi Davidi reports that Bo Bichette has been diagnosed with a Grade 1 sprain of the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee. According to Davidi, the injury is "considered minor" and should have "no long-term impact" for the 22-year-old shortstop, as the rest of his knee is structurally sound. Still, there is currently no timetable for Bichette's return to the Blue Jays' active roster and a rehab plan is still being mapped out. He seems likely to be sidelined until sometime in September. Brandon Drury, Joe Panik, Santiago Espinal are expected to share starts at short ... Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Monday that DJ LeMahieu (thumb) is expected to be sidelined for 2-3 weeks. LeMahieu was placed on the 10-day injured list Sunday with a left thumb sprain and got pretty good news while seeking a second opinion on Monday in New York. He has no fractures in the thumb and all of his ligaments are intact. Look for the star infielder to return to action for the Yankees sometime in early September ... Yankees activated LHP Aroldis Chapman from the COVID-19 injured list. Chapman missed the first three-and-a-half weeks of the 2020 regular season following a COVID-19 diagnosis. He should jump right in as the primary closer in New York, with current MLB saves leader Zack Britton shifting into more of a setup role. On Monday, he pitched in the ninth of a four-run game, allowing a run but finishing off the Red Sox. Britton is worth keeping around on fantasy rosters as a secondary saves option for the Yanks ... Josh Donaldson (calf) had a successful workout day on Monday. The activities included machine cardio, infield practice at third base, and batting cage work. Donaldson felt some lingering discomfort after a workout on Friday, but he had no issues with anything on Monday and could be moving toward a return from the injured list sometime later this week. The veteran third baseman has been sidelined since the first week of August because of a strained right calf ... Salvador Perez was removed from Monday night's game against the Twins due to a recurrence of blurred vision in his left eye. Perez felt good enough to start behind the plate on Monday after getting scratched from the lineup on Sunday, but the vision issues returned as Monday's game went along. Trainers thought it might be symptoms of a migraine. Perez will be reevaluated ahead of Tuesday's scheduled 8:05 p.m. ET against the Reds, though it's not a certainty that game will be played as Cincinnati works through a COVID-19 diagnosis and the subsequent contact tracing ... Yasmani Grandal was lifted from Monday's game against the Tigers due to back tightness. Grandal mentioned his back tightening up earlier in the game and White Sox manager Rick Renteria told reporters that he decided to pull him after he had to pounce on a tapper in front of the plate in the top of the sixth inning. Renteria said "it's not an injury" and that the 31-year-old catcher is considered day-to-day ... Niko Goodrum (back) was not in the Tigers' starting lineup on Monday. Goodrum made an early exit from Sunday afternoon's game against the Indians due to tightness around the right side of his upper back. He's considered day-to-day for now ... Nick Madrigal (shoulder) has resumed "virtually all baseball activities," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn told reporters on Monday. Madrigal is on track to return to the active roster before the end of this month after suffering a separated left shoulder while sliding into third base back on August 4 against the Brewers. The talented 23-year-old second baseman had five hits and one RBI through his first five games at the major league level prior to the injury.