Bill Baer

TORONTO, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 14: Marco Estrada #25 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch in the first inning during MLB game action against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 14, 2016 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Marco Estrada has been pitching through a herniated disk in his back

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Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported on Thursday morning that Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada has been pitching through a herniated disk in his back. Estrada made the American League All-Star roster, but was on the disabled list with lower back soreness and was replaced by Corey Kluber.

Since returning on July 22, Estrada has a 5.47 ERA and a 47/19 K/BB ratio in 52 2/3 innings. After averaging 6 2/3 innings per start prior to his DL stint, Estrada has averaged 5 1/3 since.

It’s bad timing for the 79-66 Blue Jays as they’re two games back of the Red Sox for first place in the AL East. They also lead the second AL Wild Card slot by 1.5 games over the Tigers and Mariners. Aaron Sanchez is dealing with a blister issue and the club is trying to limit his innings anyway. If Estrada needs to miss time, the club will have to get even more creative managing the rotation.

Miguel Cabrera doesn’t like Tigers fans’ negativity

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 06: Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers reacts after flying out against the Chicago White Sox during the sixth inning at U.S. Cellular Field on September 6, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
Jon Durr/Getty Images
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The Tigers are still right in the thick of things, having entered Thursday afternoon’s game against the Twins just one game out of the second Wild Card slot in the American League. The club, however, lost 5-1, continuing a stretch of mediocrity dating back to early August. The club hasn’t won more than two games in a row since the end of August.

Including today’s loss, the Tigers are 17-19 since August 7. Tigers fans, understandably, are a bit frustrated. But fans tend to take out their frustrations by booing or heckling players, or harassing them on social media. As Catherine Slonskis of SB Nation’s Bless You Boys reports, veteran first baseman Miguel Cabrera is trying to protect the club’s newer and younger players from the negativity.

I’ve been here a lot of years. I’ve been through it. To me, it doesn’t matter what people say. But we got a lot of new guys here (and we tell them) ‘Don’t worry about that stuff.’ They think about it and read stuff. But we need to stay positive and go out there and play.

Cabrera added, “We’re human.”

Per Slonskis, Cabrera also considers a player’s phone — on which he can access social media and thus the negative sentiment from the fan base — a “dangerous” device. Tigers players tend to avoid going onto social media prior to games, according to Slonskis.

While fans have a right to express their frustrations, Cabrera also has a right to push back against it. And he’s right that players are human. It’s a perspective that some segment of every team’s fan base lacks, particularly towards the end of a season and in the playoffs. Tigers fans are watching a 78-68 team that could find itself in the postseason. Fans of many other teams would love to trade places, I assure you.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Thursday’s action

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 10: Rich Hill #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches during the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on September 10, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Rob Foldy/Getty Images
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Rich Hill returns to the mound for the first time since tossing seven perfect innings against the Marlins and being controversially removed by manager Dave Roberts. Roberts was right to do so, by the way. Hill takes on the Diamondbacks’ Archie Bradley in a 9:40 PM EDT start at Chase Field on Thursday night.

Roberts was so careful with Hill because he knows how valuable the lefty is to the club’s chances of maintaining its lead in the NL West and succeeding in the postseason. The Dodgers enter Thursday’s action with a five-game lead over the second-place Giants. Meanwhile, Hill brings with him a 1.80 ERA and a 110/30 K/BB ratio in 95 innings. He hasn’t allowed a run since the second inning of his July 7 start against the Athletics, a span of 24 innings. When he has been healthy, Hill has arguably been the best pitcher in baseball this season. But while many starters are at 29 and 30 starts at this point, tonight will be Hill’s 18th.

Hill missed over a month between July 17 and August 23 dealing with a blister issue. He debuted for the Dodgers, who acquired him on August 1, on the 24th of the month. He pitched six shutout innings against the Giants, but then would be sidelined again with more blister issues. Hill wouldn’t pitch again until September 3.

While Roberts is hoping Hill dominates the Diamondbacks on Thursday night, he’s also hoping Hill doesn’t dominate too much and force him into another can’t-win decision.

The rest of Thursday’s action…

Pittsburgh Pirates (Chad Kuhl) @ Philadelphia Phillies (Jerad Eickhoff), 7:05 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays (Blake Snell) @ Baltimore Orioles (Yovani Gallardo), 7:05 PM EDT

New York Yankees (Masahiro Tanaka) @ Boston Red Sox (Eduardo Rodriguez), 7:10 PM EDT

Oakland Athletics (Daniel Mengden) @ Kansas City Royals (Edinson Volquez), 7:15 PM EDT

Milwaukee Brewers (Jimmy Nelson) @ Chicago Cubs (Mike Montgomery), 8:05 PM EDT

Toronto Blue Jays (J.A. Happ) @ Los Angeles Angels (Daniel Wright), 10:05 PM EDT

St. Louis Cardinals (Adam Wainwright) @ San Francisco Giants (Johnny Cueto), 10:15 PM EDT