Mike Napoli has been out since August 11 with a quadriceps injury, but the Rangers catcher took a big step in his recovery yesterday by spending seven innings behind the plate in a minor-league rehab game.
In addition to catching seven innings Napoli went 0-for-2 with a hit by pitch in Game 2 of the Double-A playoffs and T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that he could be back in the Rangers’ lineup as soon as this weekend.
Napoli’s injury combined with the Rangers’ decision to part with Yorvit Torrealba has left Geovany Soto as their primary catcher. Soto, who was acquired from the Cubs on July 31, has started 24 of the past 30 games while hitting just .219 with a .639 OPS for the Rangers.
Even while seeing his OPS drop nearly 300 points compared to last season’s breakout Napoli posted a .771 OPS with 17 homers in 92 games before being shut down.
It’s already been established that the Blue Jays would throw deadline acquisition David Price in Game 1 of their ALDS matchup against the Rangers and fast-rising right-hander Marcus Stroman in Game 2.
Now we know how they’ll fill out the rest of their rotation for the best-of-five round …
John Lott of the National Post notes that R.A. Dickey threw a simulated game on Tuesday afternoon at Rogers Centre, which lines him up for a potential ALDS Game 4 next Monday in Texas. Marco Estrada will take Game 3 on Sunday night in Arlington.
Mark Buehrle retired after his final regular-season start, so he’s obviously out of the mix.
Toronto is the World Series favorite to many as the postseason gets underway.
Yasiel Puig appeared in just 79 games during the regular season and missed all of September with a right hamstring strain. He returned on October 3 and appeared in the Dodgers’ final two regular-season games, but that doesn’t mean he is anywhere close to 100 percent heading into the NLDS.
Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles says the Dodgers are unlikely to start Puig over Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford against right-handers in the best-of-five Division Series. And the Mets are scheduled to throw three righties in the first three games: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Matt Harvey. The only left-hander in the Mets’ postseason rotation is Steven Matz, and he is somewhat questionable with a back injury.
Would it make sense to leave Puig off the NLDS roster entirely? If he does aggravate the hamstring injury, which seems possible even in a limited role, that would put him out of the mix for the NLCS.
They could send Puig to Arizona and have him face live pitching for the next 8-10 days.
But that’s just a suggestion. It doesn’t sound like it’s actually a consideration.