As expected, the Rays have placed Jeff Niemann on the disabled list after he left Wednesday’s start with a strained back.
There’s no timetable yet for his return, but Niemann told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that the injury “is very frustrating.”
According to Steve Wiseman of the Durham Herald Sun the Rays are replacing Niemann on the roster by calling up outfielder Brandon Guyer from Triple-A. Guyer, who was acquired from the Cubs in the Matt Garza trade and is hitting .356 with six homers and a 1.018 OPS in 28 games at Durham, was informed of the call-up last night but an official move hasn’t been announced.
Not replacing Niemann with another pitcher signals that the Rays will likely slide Andy Sonnanstine into his rotation spot. Sonnanstine has plenty of past experience as a starter, but it comes with a 5.33 career ERA in 76 starts and he’s been far more successful as a reliever.
I would hope by now that I no longer have to preface All-Star talk with my usual “none of this matters” disclaimers, but please keep all of that in mind when I mention that Nick Markakis is leading all National League outfielders in All-Star voting.
Markakis, with 1,173,653 votes, has surpassed the slumping Bryce Harper in that category. Harper has 1,002,696 votes. The third place outfielder is Matt Kemp of the Dodgers with 925,697. Fourth place — Charlie Blackmon of the Dodgers — is like 300,000 votes back of Kemp.Yes, Markakis, Harper and Kemp may be the starting NL outfield. Brandon Nimmo — not on the ballot — should be grumpy, but he’ll get his chance I’m sure.
The thing about it: Markakis, for as unexpected as his appearance may be on this list, deserves to at least be in the top three. He’s second in WAR among National League outfielders behind Lorenzo Cain. He’s slowed down a good bit in June and he’s coming off of a 2017 season in which he had a 96 OPS+ and 0.7 WAR, but he’s having quite an outstanding season. I write that mostly so that there is a record of it come October and we’ve all forgotten it.
Seriously, though, good for Markakis, who has never made an All-Star Game. Good for Kemp too for that matter, who most people assumed was a walking — well, limping — corpse heading into this season. Good for Harper because anything that can keep up the guise of him having a good year when, in reality, he’s really not, will help his confidence as he heads into free agency.
Finally, good for the American League, who will likely get to face a far, far inferior National League team next month in Washington.
The rest of the voting: