Nationals shortstop Trea Turner stole the spotlight on Tuesday, hitting for the cycle for the second time in his career against Colorado. Not only did he become the 26th player in major-league history to hit for the cycle multiple times in his career, but he’s the first hitter in franchise history to accomplish the extremely rare feat. He went 4-for-5 with a solo homer and a pair of RBI in the Nationals’ 11-1 blowout win over the Rockies. He kicked off the contest with a leadoff homer -- his eighth round-tripper of the season -- to left-center field, reached on an infield single in the second, tripled into the right-field corner in the fifth and doubled into the right-center-field gap to finish off the cycle in the seventh. The dynamic 26-year-old speedster hasn’t lived up to the lofty preseason expectations of fantasy owners who envisioned a potential 20-plus homer, 50-plus stolen base monster, but he’s been an extremely productive five-category impact contributor, hitting .282 (68-for-241) with 38 runs scored, 29 extra-base hits (five home runs), 21 RBI and 16 stolen bases in 56 games since coming off the injured list on May 17. It’s nights like this where we get a glimpse of his immense upside and are reminded that we haven’t come close to witnessing the peak version of Turner over a full-season just yet.
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Injury-Riddled Rays Eyeing Reinforcements
With the major-league trade deadline exactly one week away (4 p.m. ET on July 31), Tampa Bay is dealing with a rash of unexpected injuries and appears to be in the market for a big-name replacement on the trade market to reinforce their potential playoff push. After losing defensive stalwart, center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, to a sprained left thumb over the weekend, the Rays’ lineup -- which is already missing rookie sensation Brandon Lowe -- was dealt another significant blow Tuesday when third baseman Yandy Diaz landed on the 10-day injured list with a left foot contusion. The 27-year-old infielder was in the midst of an impressive breakout campaign, hitting .270/.343/.480 with a career-high 14 home runs in 344 plate appearances, before fouling a ball off his left foot during Monday's game against the Red Sox. The good news is that there is no fracture and that it appears to only be a deep bone bruise. There’s no exact timetable for Diaz’s return, but he’s expected to be sidelined for at least a few weeks. He’ll be replaced in the immediate future by veteran infielder Matt Duffy, who was activated from the 60-day injured list on Tuesday. He’s been out all season due to back and hamstring injuries, and figures to garner the majority of the starts -- with Joey Wendle and Mike Brosseau also in the mix -- at the hot corner moving forward.
Further complicating matters for the Rays were reports that All-Star second baseman Brandon Lowe, who has been sidelined since July 3 due to a deep bone bruise on his right shin, received a pain-killing injection on Tuesday, and will be shut down for the next two-to-three days. The 25-year-old slugger owns a stellar .276/.339/.523 triple-slash line with 40 runs scored, 16 home runs, 49 RBI and five stolen bases in 307 plate appearances. He’s the current frontrunner to take home the American League Rookie of the Year award at the end of the season, but doesn’t appear close to returning to the lineup. The team isn’t calling it a setback in his recovery, but at a bare minimum, it’s at least mildly concerning and confirms that his recovery is going slower than previously anticipated. This latest development comes on the heels of manager Kevin Cash telling reporters over the weekend that Lowe wasn’t moving well while fielding grounders. There isn’t an official timetable for his return to the lineup, but it could be awhile before he’s ready. This slew of injuries is striking the Rays at the worst possible time and it appears likely that they will be forced to cash in some of their prospect chips to acquire some help from outside the organization.
Losing the trio comprised of Kiermaier, Lowe and Diaz -- even for a few games -- could have a significant impact on the Rays’ playoff trajectory, especially since 10 of their next 12 games are against the division rival Red Sox and Blue Jays. They’re locked in an extremely tight race for a Wild Card berth and have been the subject of numerous trade rumors in recent days. Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported Tuesday that the Rays have “checked in” on a trade for Tigers’ outfielder Nicholas Castellanos, while also noting that there is no evidence of a deal being close. There were also numerous reports connecting them with the Rangers regarding a potential deal for veteran outfielder/designated hitter Hunter Pence. Perhaps the most interesting rumor came out late on Tuesday when Mark Feinsand and Juan Toribio of MLB.com reported that the Rays have also expressed interest in Brewers’ first baseman Jesus Aguilar. The 29-year-old slugger has endured a dismal 2019 campaign after his remarkable full-season breakout last year. However, he’s begun to heat up in recent weeks, hitting .342 with three home runs in 16 games since July 1.
There’s also a possibility that the Rays could target a lesser-known option to shore up their short-term hole at the keystone and provide some flexibility in a utility role. Someone like Eric Sogard, who has hit a remarkable .304/.367/.487 with 10 homers in 308 plate appearances for Toronto, would seem to be an ideal fit. Regardless of what direction the Rays elect to go in, it’s clear that their pitching staff, headlined by veteran righty Charlie Morton and reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, gives them an opportunity to win in the postseason. The central question is whether they have enough gas in the tank to make it across the finish line as currently constructed.
Cano Records First Career Hat Trick
Reports of Robinson Cano’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. As evidenced by a four-hit, three-homer performance against the rookie sensation Chris Paddack (who he took deep twice in the fourth and sixth innings, respectively) and the Padres on Tuesday night, the 36-year-old second baseman isn’t completely washed. Granted, he’s not the same hitter he was in his prime, but he doesn’t appear to have fully lost his mojo yet. He’s been snake-bitten by injuries, missing significant chunks of time due to a series of recurring quad and hand injuries, but appears to be rounding back into form in recent weeks. Not only did he record the first three-homer effort of his career, but he’s already gone deep five times in just 10 games since the All-Star break, which is more round-trippers than he recorded in the entire first half (four) of the season. There isn’t a ton of fantasy upside here, but considering the lack of quality options at the keystone, especially in deeper mixed leagues, Cano is a worthy trade target or speculative waiver wire pickup. He’s not done yet.
AL Quick Hits: Joey Gallo was lifted from Tuesday night's game against the Mariners for precautionary reasons due to right wrist soreness. … Gary Sanchez was removed from Tuesday night's game against the Twins with an apparent right leg injury. … Mariners placed Dee Gordon on the 10-day inured list with a left quad strain. … Tim Anderson (ankle) will begin a minor league rehab assignment Wednesday with Triple-A Charlotte. … Byron Buxton had three wisdom teeth pulled last Friday. He is reportedly symptom-free and the Twins are saying that he will be back soon. … Jesus Luzardo (shoulder) is expected to begin working off a mound in early August. … Domingo Santana was removed from Tuesday night's game against the Rangers due to soreness in his right elbow. … Mike Trout launched his 33rd round-tripper of the season to lead the Angels to a win over the Dodgers. … Chris Sale recorded 10 strikeouts over six innings in a win over the Rays. … Marcus Walden recorded a one-out save to ice the victory … Yonny Chirinos whiffed five batters over 5 2/3 frames in a no-decision. … Danny Duffy struck out a season-high 11 batters over six innings of one-run ball in a win over the Braves. … Ian Kennedy picked up his 18th save in that one. … Matt Olson went 2-for-5 with a game-tying three-run homer to lift the Athletics to an eventual win over the Astros in extra-innings. … Yuli Gurriel went 2-for-4 with a two-run, inside-the-park homer in the loss. … Justin Smoak slugged a game-tying homer and delivered a walk-off single to propel the Blue Jays past the Indians in a 10-inning affair. … Trevor Bauer struck out nine batters over 7 2/3 scoreless innings in a no-decision in that one. … Rougned Odor went 3-for-4 with a pair of home runs and three RBI to lead the Rangers to a win over the Mariners. … Renato Nunez went 2-for-3 with a solo homer and a pair of RBI in the Orioles’ blowout victory over the Diamondbacks. … Adalberto Mondesi (shoulder) likely won't be reevaluated until the Royals return to Kansas City on Thursday. … Hunter Strickland (lat) is expected to be activated off the injured list during the Mariners' upcoming road trip to Texas. … Astros placed Josh James on the 10-day injured list with right shoulder soreness. … Rangers optioned 1B Ronald Guzman to Triple-A Nashville. … Red Sox activated Mitch Moreland from the 10-day injured list and optioned Marco Hernandez to Triple-A Pawtucket. … Blue Jays designated Dalton Pompey for assignment.
NL Quick Hits: Max Scherzer (back) is scheduled to return to the Nationals' rotation Thursday against the Rockies at home. … Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported Tuesday that the Rockies could consider dealing Charlie Blackmon before the trade deadline. … Morosi also confirmed previous reports that the Yankees have contacted the Diamondbacks in “recent days” about southpaw Robbie Ray. … Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported Tuesday that Jason Vargas is the “most likely to go” of the Mets starting pitchers. … Zack Wheeler (shoulder) threw a round of live batting practice on Tuesday. … Rockies purchased the contract of Yonder Alonso from Triple-A Albuquerque. He belted a pinch-hit RBI double in his debut against the Nationals. … Jean Segura (heel) remained out of the Phillies’ starting lineup for Tuesday's game against the Tigers. … Keston Hiura (quad) went 1-for-4 with a run scored in his return to the Brewers' starting lineup on Tuesday night against the Reds. … Paul Goldschmidt and Jose Martinez left the yard to power the Cardinals to a victory over the Pirates. … Dallas Keuchel whiffed a season-high 12 batters over six innings in a no-decision against the Royals. … Ronald Acuna stole his 22nd base of the season in that contest. … Caleb Smith carried a perfect game into the sixth inning and racked up nine strikeouts over seven frames of one-run ball in a win over the White Sox. … Fernando Tatis Jr. went 2-for-5 with an RBI double and a run scored in the Padres’ loss to the Mets. … Edwin Diaz converted his 22nd save of the season in that one. … Eugenio Suarez went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer and three RBI to lead the Reds to a blowout win over the Brewers. … Joey Votto and Jesse Winker also left the yard in that one … Rhys Hoskins went 2-for-5 with a go-ahead RBI single in the 15th inning to push the Phillies past the Tigers. … Pablo Sandoval swatted a walk-off homer to power the Giants to a victory over the Cubs in extra-innings. … Madison Bumgarner recorded seven strikeouts over seven innings in a no-decision in that one. … Kris Bryant went 3-for-6 with a pair of RBI in the losing effort. … Cole Hamels (oblique) worked 2 1/3 shutout innings in a rehab start Tuesday night at Triple-A Iowa. … Erick Fedde will start the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader against the Rockies with Patrick Corbin working the nightcap … Max Fried (blister) is on track to return to the Braves' rotation Sunday versus the Phillies. … Zach Eflin will take his next turn in the Phillies' rotation this weekend against the Braves. … Johnny Cueto (elbow) will face live hitters Wednesday for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery last August.