Tommy Hunter posted a quality 3.73 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 128 innings last year and was all set to open the 2011 season as Texas’ No. 3 starter.
But he strained his groin at the end of spring training and has been on the disabled list since.
Hunter has made a number of rehab appearances, but the results have not been overwhelmingly positive and the Rangers are now thinking about a creative alternative. They want to change his role.
According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the 24-year-old Hunter has begun making rehab appearances out of the bullpen at Triple-A Round Rock and could be used as a long reliever temporarily once he is medically cleared to return to the major leagues.
“It’s to see if he can do it, see how he recovers,” manager Ron Washington said. “That’s not in stone.”
The Rangers would certainly prefer to have Hunter at his best and a member of the rotation, but their starting pitching has been solid this season thanks to the emergence of Alexi Ogando and Matt Harrison, and Hunter could always make spot starts down the stretch if he begins showing signs of life in long relief.
Starter Jeremy Hellickson has become the Phillies’ most enticing trade chip as he’s put together a solid month of July. After shutting out the Marlins on one hit and one walk over six innings on Monday, the right-hander lowered his July ERA to 1.97 and his overall ERA to 3.65. As a result, the Phillies are telling teams they want a top-five prospect to part with Hellickson, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark.
Obviously, a top-five prospect means something different if you’re the Marlins as opposed to the Rangers. And the Phillies’ price point for Hellickson isn’t likely to stay that high, but GM Matt Klentak is setting a lofty starting point so that the return might end up being higher than market value.
ESPN’s Buster Olney speculates that the Phillies could end up holding onto Hellickson and giving him a qualifying offer after the season. He notes that the Phillies have only $25 million tied up for the 2017 season, so they could afford to pay Hellickson in excess of $16 million if he were to accept.
Madison Bumgarner isn’t the only Giants pitcher who can rake. Matt Cain crushed a three-run home run during Tuesday’s game against the Giants.
Cain stepped to the plate with runners on the corner and one out against Reds starter Cody Reed in the bottom of the second inning. Reed threw a 1-1 fastball down the middle and Cain hit it about 20 rows back in the left field seats.
It’s Cain’s first homer of the season, his first since 2012, and the seventh of his 12-year career. He still has some work to catch up to Bumgarner, who has two homers this year and 13 in his career.
On the pitching side of things, Cain got the win against the Reds on Tuesday night, giving up four runs on six hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. He currently holds an ugly 5.95 ERA.