Some good news for the Braves: no structural damage was found in Brandon Beachy’s elbow when he went to visit Dr. James Andrews on Monday.
“He confirmed what I’ve been hoping,” Beachy told Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He just thought it was inflamed, a lot of fluid in there. The ligament is intact and it’s good news.”
Beachy, who returned from Tommy John surgery at the end of July, has been shut down for 10 days anyway, casting doubt on whether he’ll rejoin the rotation next month. The Braves may choose to bring him back as a reliever. Even before the setback, he seemed iffy to make a postseason rotation that figures to include Mike Minor and Julio Teheran and two from the group of Kris Medlen, Paul Maholm, Alex Wood and Beachy.
The Mariners now have an opening for Taijuan Walker in their rotation if they want to take it.
Aaron Harang, who have up seven runs in 5 2/3 innings Sunday in a loss to the Angels, was designated for assignment Monday. It was the fourth time in his last eight starts that he had given up seven runs, and he fell to 5-11 with a 5.76 ERA for the year.
Harang’s stint in Seattle was quite the roller coaster ride. He’s one of just seven pitchers with multiple shutout this year, having blanked the Padres on May 27 and the Astros on June 11. He also had five starts in which he allowed just one run, three of them coming since the All-Star break.
Overall, Harang had a solid 87/26 K/BB ratio in 120 1/3 innings, but he had given up 21 homers even with Safeco Field helping him along. What hasn’t helped in a Seattle defense that rates among the worst in the league.
Of course, now that it’s too late for Harang, the Mariners are getting their best defensive outfielder back today in Franklin Gutierrez. He was activated from the DL to replace Harang on the roster. Brandon Maurer and Hector Noesi are a couple of possibilities to take his rotation spot. The Mariners could also give Walker, their No. 1 prospect, a look next month. The 21-year-old is 5-3 with a 3.61 ERA and a 64/27 K/BB ratio in 57 1/3 IP since moving up to Triple-A Tacoma.
The Blue Jays are just going through the paces right now. Absent Jose Bautista, they’ve lost seven in a row and fallen to 57-73 on the season. The year’s most disappointing team, they have nothing left to play for.
Just don’t tell Edwin Encarnacion that. He’s homered three times during the current seven-game losing streak. Tonight’s was his 33rd of the year. He also walked three times, and he’s now sporting an outstanding 55/71 K/BB ratio for the year. Since the beginning of June, he has 18 homers, 47 walks and just 22 strikeouts.
Encarnacion is currently on pace to finish the season with 41 homers and 69 strikeouts. Just two different players since 2001 have managed to have 40-homer seasons while striking out less than 80 times: Albert Pujols did it six times, the last in 2010, and Barry Bonds did it three times (plus twice more in the 1990s).
This is Hall of Fame-type territory, for sure. Not that every player who has done it has gone on to the Hall of Fame, but almost everyone to accomplish it is at least a fringe candidate. Besides Bonds and Pujols, the last to get there were Gary Sheffield, Vladimir Guerrero, Todd Helton, Rafael Palmeiro and Mike Piazza. The exceptions to the fringe-HOFer rule in the last 40 years are Tino Martinez in 2007, George Bell in 1987 and Ben Oglivie in 1980.
Obviously, Encarnacion currently rates a lot closer to Martinez than Pujols, but he’s far from a flash in the pan. He was an underrated hitter in his early years in Cincinnati, with his poor glove holding him back and getting him sent to the bench whenever he had a few bad games in a row. He’s been one of the AL’s best hitters the last two years now and he’s still just 30. He should have at least another two or three big years in front of him.