More arm issues and maybe surgery for Scheppers?

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Tanner Scheppers was a consensus first-round talent who fell to the
Rangers in the second round of last week’s draft because of concerns
about the health of his shoulder and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com reports that two teams passed on him because they believe he has a 50-percent labrum tear that will eventually require surgery.

Here’s what Texas general manager Jon Daniels had to say about Scheppers’ status:

I’d prefer not to discuss specifics of Tanner’s medical situation
for two reasons: One, he’s not our player until he’s signed; and two,
I’m uncomfortable doing so in general. The best I can put it is this:
He was examined by Dr. [Keith] Meister before the draft. He was cleared
to be selected, with the understanding that there may be a heightened
level of risk versus other pitchers of a similar age and experience
level. We took him with eyes wide open and hope to sign him this summer.

This isn’t the first time that Scheppers’ shoulder has been an issue.
In fact, he went through a very similar situation last year when he
fell from likely first-round pick to the Pirates at No. 48 overall
after being diagnosed with a stress fracture.

Rather than sign for below-market money Scheppers opted to follow in
J.D. Drew’s footsteps by playing for the independent league St. Paul
Saints, where he stayed healthy and reestablished himself as a
top-notch prospect by flashing a mid-90s fastball and plus curveball.

As Mayo notes, “the Rangers clearly felt comfortable enough to
select Scheppers” while “others concluded the injury was too severe and
decided to pass.” He has until August 17 to sign this time around and
the Rangers seemingly wouldn’t have used a second rounder on him
without being willing to pony up above-slot money, but obviously that
would all change if he indeed needs to go under the knife.

Ironically, the Rangers received the No. 44 pick that they used to
select Scheppers as compensation for losing the oft-injured Milton
Bradley as a free agent.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).