Escobar's shoulder forces move to bullpen

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One start. Five innings.

That’s how long Kelvim Escobar’s return to the rotation lasted after he
missed 1 1/3 seasons due to shoulder problems. Since the struggled to
bounce back following an encouraging first start Saturday against the
Tigers, the Angels announced that he would be unavailable for the rest
of this week and would transition to the bullpen next week.

“He felt he didn’t have the stamina to go out there and throw the 90 pitches and recover,” manager Mike Scioscia told The Associated Press. “So he’s going to pitch out of the ‘pen for that reason. He feels great up to a certain pitch count.”

Of course, this is nothing new for Escobar, a former Toronto closer
who will be pitching in relief for the first time since 2005. He has
some of the game’s very best stuff, but he’s never been a dominant
force, mostly because injuries have held him back. He’s thrown 200
innings just once during a career that began in 1997. It seemed as
though he really learned how to pitch upon arriving in Anaheim, but
this marks the third time in six seasons with the Angels that he’s
missed a big chunk of time with an arm problem.

In the end, this might actually work out for the Angels. It’s not
like they could really count on Escobar to stay healthy anyway, and now
there’s nothing at all stopping them from going out and getting the
starter they’ve obviously needed since the offseason. If things break
right, then Escobar could be the setup man that Jose Arredondo was
supposed to be this year. He’s probably not going to be available on
back-to-back days anytime soon and odds are that he’ll be good for at
least one more DL stint, but even when his arm seems to be hanging by a
thread, he’s capable of getting tons of swings and misses.

Report: Steven Matz has been pitching through pain, may need elbow surgery

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Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that Mets starter Steven Matz has been pitching through pain for most of the season. He may need surgery to fix a nerve issue in his elbow. Matz was sidelined in spring training with an elbow injury and made his regular season debut on June 10.

Matz, 26, has struggled over 13 starts, posting a 6.08 ERA with a 48/19 K/BB ratio in 66 2/3 innings. Many were scrambling for explanations for his pitching woes and now they have it.

According to Carig, the Mets let Matz skip his bullpen sessions to help him pitch through the pain. Given the Mets’ shoddy history of dealing with injuries, that’s not a good look for the club.

Carig noted on Twitter that Jacob deGrom offers some optimism for Matz’s case. deGrom underwent right elbow surgery to repair ulnar nerve damage last September and bounced back to have a great season this year.

Clayton Kershaw’s simulated game went so well he threw an extra inning

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Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw was scheduled to throw three innings in a simulated game on Monday. That simulated game went so well, he threw an extra inning, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Kershaw will make a minor league rehab start next and could be activated towards the end of next week.

Kershaw, 29, has been on the disabled list since July 24 with a lower back strain. That put the pause button on another outstanding season. He’s carrying a 15-2 record with a 2.04 ERA and a 168/24 K/BB ratio in 141 1/3 innings.

The 87-35 Dodgers have run away with the NL West, needing some combination of 20 wins and 20 Rockies losses (19 for the third-place Diamondbacks) to officially clinch the division. While the Dodgers are all but mathematically assured of reaching postseason baseball, the club would still like to get Kershaw as ready as possible over the next month-plus.