May 18, 1996
Phillies leadoff man Lenny Dykstra suffered a rib-cage injury while going 0-for-3 in a 7-2 loss to the Dodgers. It turned out to be his final game in the majors. He was placed on the disabled list four days later, never to return.
Dykstra, who was just 33, was batting .261/.387/.418 at the time of the injury, and he still ranked as one of the NL’s best leadoff hitters when healthy. Just three years earlier, he finished second in the NL MVP balloting after scoring 143 runs. That was the highest total for an NL player since Chuck Klein scored 158 runs in 1932 and the second highest total in the majors since 1950 behind Rickey Henderson’s 146 from 1985.
Dykstra was also an All-Star in both 1994 and 1995, despite playing in 84 and 62 games the two years. The 1993 season was the only one of his last five in the bigs that he topped 100 games. A fan favorite for his ultra-aggressive play in center field, “Nails” played for only the Mets and Phillies in his 12-season career. He hit .285/.375/.419 with 81 homers and 285 steals in 1,278 games.
Unfortunately, Dykstra wasn’t only reckless while on the field. In 1991, he crashed his Mercedes into two trees while driving drunk. He missed two months with broken ribs, a broken collarbone and a broken cheekbone. Teammate Darren Daulton was with him at the time and suffered a broken eye socket.
He’s also had plenty of additional interesting run-ins since.
After recovering from back surgery, a 35-year-old Dykstra attempted a comeback with the Phillies in 1996. However, he went just 2-for-21 in spring training before calling it quits due to more troubles with the back.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.
The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.
Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.
With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.
Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.
Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.
The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.