– Oliver Perez makes his much-anticipated return to the rotation versus
the Dodgers. Of course, most of the anticipation comes from National
League hitters, rather than Mets fans. Perez had a 9.97 ERA in five
starts before the Mets shelved him for nine weeks with a knee injury.
The left-hander had a 3.12 ERA in four rehab starts, but his one
particularly strong effort came in the short-season New York-Penn
League. Overall, he allowed 17 hits and walked 11 in 17 1/3 innings.
The Dodgers will throw Hiroki Kuroda.
– Both failed last time out, but Zack Greinke and Tim Wakefield will
again have chances to become the AL’s first 11-game winners tonight.
Wakefield has the advantage of facing an A’s team that’s 12th in the AL
in runs, 13th in OBP and dead last in slugging. Greinke, though, has
already manhandled his opponent, Detroit, twice this season, throwing a
pair of compete games that resulted in identical 6-1 victories. He’s
10-4 with a 2.69 ERA lifetime against the Tigers.
Game of the Night
Texas vs. L.A. Angels – The Rangers and Angels entered the
three-game series with identical records, and nothing has been decided
through two games, as the Rangers were able to bounce back from a 9-4
defeat to win 8-5 on Tuesday. Tonight’s matchup is made more
interesting in that both starters are dealing with questions about
their arms at the moment. Vicente Padilla will work on eight days’ rest
after complaining of shoulder soreness. He lost to the Angels after
giving up five runs and two homers over five innings on June 29. Ervin
Santana and his still iffy elbow ligament will face the Rangers for the
first time this season. He lost Friday in his return from the DL,
leaving him 1-4 with a 7.43 ERA in seven starts for the season. The
Angels will probably be without the services of Vladimir Guerrero after
he suffered a strained leg muscle last night.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.
Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.
The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.
Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.
The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.
He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.