J.J. Putz and Matt Thornton headed to the disabled list

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Bobby Jenks is essentially back as Ozzie Guillen’s closer, but he didn’t get there without a body count. J.J. Putz re-injured his right knee last night against the Orioles and Matt Thornton hasn’t appeared in a game since last Tuesday’s due to soreness in his forearm. After last night’s 7-5 win, Guillen told the Chicago Sun-Times that both pitchers were going to be placed on the disabled list.

”Well, Thornton is down, Putz is down, we’ve got to add two guys,”
Guillen said. ”I need some guys that can go out there. I’m not saying
we’re in trouble, but everyone in the bullpen has to pick it up a notch
for at least the next seven days because we won’t have Thornton. We have
to step it up a notch. We’ll figure it out.”

Putz underwent an MRI on Monday which revealed no structural damage in the knee, however last night was the second time in his last three appearances that he was forced to leave a game due to injury. The 33-year-old right-hander has allowed seven runs — six earned — over his last 5 2/3 innings (9.53 ERA) after giving up just eight runs over his first 41 1/3 innings this season, so it’s clear something just isn’t right with him.

As for Thornton, he also underwent an MRI on Monday which showed no structural damage in his forearm and elbow area, however he did have some receive an injection to dry up fluid in the affected area. According to Scott Merkin of MLB.com, Thornton said before last night’s game that he likely wouldn’t be available to pitch until next week’s series against the Indians, so there’s no use in wasting a roster spot any longer.

It comes at a tough time for the White Sox, who enter play Wednesday 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Twins in the American League Central. Their depleted bullpen will surely be tested during a three-game series against the Yankees this weekend. 

Matthew Stafford audibles with “Kershaw! Kershaw!”

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Last night the Detroit Lions played the New York Giants. During the game Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford called an audible. The call itself referenced Stafford’s childhood friend and high school baseball teammate, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. From the Freep:

Matthew Stafford stepped to the line of scrimmage late in the third quarter and surveyed the Giants defense.

With five pass rushers across the front and three Giants cornerbacks showing a press-man look, Stafford looked at his two receivers to the left and invoked the name of his childhood friend, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw.

“Give me Kershaw here, Kershaw,” Stafford said, repeating his friend’s name two more times as he spun around at the line of scrimmage.

The audible did not result in a pick-4 to Aaron Altherr. It called for a run up the middle. And it worked nicely, gaining eight yards.

You may suggest the results of other starting pitcher-themed audibles in the comments. I’ll start: “Harvey! Harvey!” is where the QB fakes a handoff, drops back, looks deep and then his arm falls completely off. Damndest thing.

Matt Harvey has a 13.19 ERA since coming back from the disabled list

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Matt Harvey‘s season was mostly a loss due to extended time on the disabled list. He’s been given a chance, however, to end the season strong and make a case for himself in the Mets’ future plans. Unfortunately, he has been unable to make that case. He was shelled again last night, and his late season opportunity has been a disaster.

Last night Harvey gave up seven runs on 12 hits and struck out only two batters in four innings against a Marlins team that, until facing him anyway, had been reeling. It was his fourth start since going on the shelf in mid-June and in those four starts he’s allowed 21 runs, all earned, on 32 hits in 14.2 innings, for an ERA of 13.19. In that time he’s struck out only eight batters while walking seven. His average fastball velocity, while ticking up slightly in each of his past four starts, is still below 95. Back when he was an ace he was consistently above that. His command has been terrible.

Injury is clearly the culprit. He had Tommy John surgery just as he was reaching his maximum level of dominance in 2013. While he came back strong in 2015, he was used pretty heavily for a guy with a brand new ligament. Last year he was felled by thoracic outlet syndrome and this year a stress injury to his shoulder. Any one of those ailments have ended pitchers’ careers and even among those who bounce back from them, many are diminished. To go through all three and remain dominant is practically unheard of.

Yet this is where Matt Harvey is. He’s 28. He’s still arbitration eligible, for a team that is, to put it politely, sensitive to large financial outlays. While his 4-5 start opportunity to end the year may very well have been seen as a chance to shop Harvey to another team, his trade value is at an all-time low. It would not be shocking if, on the basis of his recent ineffectiveness, the Mets considered non-tendering him this offseason, making him a free agent.

Someone would probably take a chance on him because famous names who once showed tremendous promise are often given multiple chances in the big leagues (See, Willis, Dontrelle). But at the moment, there is nothing in Harvey’s game to suggest that he is capable of taking advantage of such a chance. All one can hope is that an offseason of rest and conditioning will allow Harvey to reclaim at least a portion of his old form.