Daily Dose: Kinsler Hits DL; Feliz Up

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As Aaron Gleeman ventures his way back from another successful SABR Convention
in Washington, D.C., I’m happy to be your guide to Sunday’s goings-on
in the baseball world. No worries, you’ll be back to your regularly
scheduled Daily Dose soon enough.


There was bad news and good news for Rangers fans on Sunday. While
they took a serious hit with second baseman Ian Kinsler being placed on
the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring, the blow was
softened by news that top prospect Neftali Feliz is on his way from
Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Acquired from the Braves in the Mark Teixeira deal, the 21-year-old
Feliz has garnered tons of attention for his 100+ MPH fastball,
recently averaging 99.4 MPH on his heater during July’s Futures Game.
He was named the organization’s top prospect by Baseball America
over the winter. The Dominican flamethrower began the year as a starter
but recently moved to the RedHawks bullpen in anticipation of a
promotion to the big club, compiling a 2.16 ERA and 20/3 K/BB ratio
over 16 2/3 innings.

Make no mistake, the club still views him as a starting pitcher in
the long-term, but much like fellow blue-chipper Derek Holland, he’ll
cut his teeth in the pen, joining C.J. Wilson, the newly-activated
Frank Francisco and Darren O’Day in a relief corp that was already one
of the best in the American League. Get ready to pounce in keeper

As for Kinsler, he was placed on the disabled list retroactive to
July 29, so it’s conceivable that he could return by the end of next
week. Perhaps a bit of a respite isn’t the worst thing in the world for
Kinsler and the Rangers anyway; since a ridiculous .322/.384/.656
showing in April, Kinsler has hit just .219/.293/.431, including a
lowly .157 batting average in July. Still, fantasy owners will have to
find a replacement for a player who leads all major league second
basemen with 22 stolen bases and is in the top five in homers, RBI and
runs scored. Not the easiest task, but there are plenty of quality
options available in most mixed-leagues (Maicer Izturis, for one).

* After suffering a setback in his recovery last week, Brandon Webb
will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery on Monday. It’s the
culmination of a roller coaster season for Webb, who hasn’t pitched
since Opening Day. Dealing with nagging stiffness and soreness in his
right shoulder, Webb opted for a more conservative approach to his
rehab, rejecting the notion of surgery as recently as last month.

Saying that Webb “exhausted every other course of treatment,”
executive vice president and general manager Josh Byrnes stated that
the team supports his decision for surgery, but it presents quite the
dilemma for the Diamondbacks. The team holds an $8.5 million dollar
option on Webb for 2010, one which they will almost surely decline,
unless the 30-year-old right-hander is given an abnormally optimistic
recovery time. It sounds crazy to say this, but his days in Arizona
might be numbered.

* Scott Downs found himself back on the disabled list on Sunday
after aggravating the same toe injury that cost him nearly three weeks
earlier this season. Downs was brilliant after supplanting B.J. Ryan as
the team’s closer, posting a 1.98 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in 26 games before
injuring the big toe on his left foot while running the bases back on
June 16. He just hasn’t been the same pitcher since returning on July
8, putting up a 9.00 ERA over nine appearances and blowing two out of
three save opportunities. Manager Cito Gaston hinted that the
33-year-old southpaw may have returned a little too soon last time, so
expect the club to show a bit more caution before activating him.

In the meantime, look for Jason Frasor, who stepped in for the
fallen Downs to secure a 6-5 win over the Athletics on Saturday, to get
the majority of save chances. Frasor has a 2.09 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and
35/10 K/BB ratio in 38 2/3 innings this season. He was Gaston’s
go-to-guy during Downs’ earlier stint on the disabled list, notching
two saves. Brandon League may figure in on some nights too, but Frasor
is the clear choice in mixed leagues.

* As I wrote on our Circling the Bases
blog, Victor Martinez entered Sunday’s action batting just .198 since
June 4, but true to form, he went out and tied a career-high with five
hits while driving in four runs as the Red Sox trounced the Orioles
18-10. Martinez was acquired from the Indians on Friday in exchange for
Justin Masterson and minor-league pitchers Nick Hagadone and Bryan
Price. So far, Martinez has started at first base and catcher in his
first two games with Boston. Expect the shuffling to continue. Martinez
joined a crowded 1B/C/DH/3B scenario that includes Jason Varitek, Kevin
Youkilis, Mike Lowell, David Ortiz and the newly-acquired Casey

On it’s face, this looks like a brilliant move by general manager
Theo Epstein. In one fell swoop, he managed to land additional
insurance on Mike Lowell, who is still nursing a hip injury, and Jason
Varitek, who doesn’t have to carry as big of a burden behind the plate
anymore. It may end up being a winning strategy for Boston, but the
biggest losers in this scenario just might be fantasy owners. Be sure
to watch those lineup cards closely, folks.

AL Quick Hits: Melky Cabrera
became the 15th player in Yankees history to hit for the cycle on
Sunday … Orioles 2008 first-round pick Brian Matusz is expected to
make his major league debut on Tuesday against the Tigers … Clay
Buchholz was rocked for seven runs over four-plus innings on Sunday,
continuing to show that he is not yet mixed-league worthy … Melvin
Mora expressed his displeasure with manager Dave Trembley after being
benched on Sunday — the third time in the last four games — saying it
might be time for him to “move on” … J.D. Drew slashed a three-run
double in the top of the first on Sunday, but left in the second inning
with a tight right groin … The Yankees will shuffle their starting
rotation so that Joba Chamberlain can start Thursday’s opener against
the Red Sox … Likewise, Jon Lester is being moved up for a start
against the Rays on Tuesday so that he can face the Yankees …

NL Quick Hits: Corey Hart had
his appendix removed on Sunday and is out indefinitely; Bill Hall will
be recalled from Triple-A Nashville … Freddy Sanchez was 2-for-4 with
an RBI double in his Giants’ debut on Sunday … Chad Billingsley
blanked the Braves over five innings on Sunday before leaving with a
hamstring cramp; he is expected to make his next start … … Jeff
Francoeur has four home runs and 19 RBI in 19 games since joining the
Mets, but just one walk … Scott Rolen left Sunday’s game with the
Rockies after getting plunked in the helmet by Jason Marquis, but
shouldn’t miss any time … In his major league debut on Sunday, Bud
Norris hurled seven shutout innings in a 2-0 win over the Cardinals …
Hanley Ramirez was out of the starting lineup on Sunday after leaving
the night before with a bruised left knee, but appeared as a
pinch-hitter … The Mets activated Gary Sheffield from the disabled
list on Sunday, but relegated him to a bench role …

There’s no one to blame in Yankees’ loss

Joe Girardi

You’re going to boo All-Star Brett Gardner for striking out against a Cy Young contender?

You’re going to bash Alex Rodriguez for going hitless in another postseason game, three years after his last one?

Maybe you’d prefer to put it all on Masahiro Tanaka for giving up two solo homers to a lineup full of 20-homer guys?

The truth is that the Yankees were supposed to lose tonight. They were facing an outstanding left-hander with their forever-lefty-heavy lineup, and they simply didn’t have anyone pitching like an ace to set themselves up nicely for a one-game, winner-take-all showdown. The 3-0 result… well, that’s how this was supposed to go down.

It didn’t necessarily mean it would; what fun would it be if the better team always won? And the Astros might not even be a better team than the Yankees. However, the Astros with Dallas Keuchel on the mound were certainly a better team than the Yankees with whoever they picked to throw.

I just don’t see where it’s worth putting any blame tonight. Joe Girardi? He could have started John Ryan Murphy over Brian McCann against the tough lefty, but he wasn’t willing to risk Tanaka losing his comfort zone by using a backup catcher.

The front office could have added more talent, perhaps outbidding the Blue Jays for David Price or the Royals for Johnny Cueto, and set themselves up better for the postseason. However, that would have cost them Luis Severino and/or Greg Bird, both of whom went on to play key roles as the Yankees secured the wild card. Would it really have been worth it? I don’t think so.

Tanaka gave the Yankees what they should have expected. Had Keuchel’s stuff been a little off on short rest, Tanaka’s performance would have kept the Yankees in the game.

Keuchel, though, was on his game from the first pitch. The Astros bullpen might have been a bit more vulnerable, and late at-bats from Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Rodriguez and McCann definitely left something to be desired. Still, on the whole, the lack of offense was quite a team effort.

The Yankees got beat by a better team tonight.  I’m not sure the Astros would have been better in Games 2-7 in a longer series, but they had everything in their favor in this one.

Keuchel, Astros cruise past Yankees in AL Wild Card Game

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Dallas Keuchel faced the Yankees two times during the regular season and was fantastic in each outing, striking out 12 in a complete-game shutout on June 25 and whiffing nine batters over seven scoreless frames on August 25.

The 2015 Cy  Young Award candidate continued that trend in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game, limiting the Yankees to three hits and one walk over six innings of scoreless ball as the Astros earned a 3-0 win and advanced to a best-of-five ALDS with the top-seeded Royals.

Keuchel was working on three days of rest but didn’t show very many signs of fatigue, whiffing seven and needing only 87 pitches to get through six. He sure looked like he could have gone an inning longer, but Astros manager A.J. Hinch decided to turn the game over to his bullpen and they added three more big zeroes to the scoreboard at a very loud then very boo-heavy Yankee Stadium. Tony Sipp worked around some early jitters to throw a scoreless seventh, Will Harris kept the Yankees off the bases entirely in a scoreless eighth, and closer Luke Gregerson went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.

Impending free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus provided the first burst of offense for the Astros in the top of the second inning with a leadoff homer against Masahiro Tanaka. And then deadline acquisition Carlos Gomez, who missed a bunch of time down the stretch with an intercostal strain, got to Tanaka for another solo shot in the top of the fourth. Houston scored its third run on a Jose Altuve RBI single in the top of the seventh.

This is a young, talented Astros team with an ace at the head of its rotation.

Kansas City could have a problem.