Giants acquire Jeff Keppinger from Astros, call up Brandon Belt

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The Giants made a couple of key changes on Tuesday, acquiring infielder Jeff Keppinger from the Astros for RHP Henry Sosa and RHP Jason Stoffel and calling up Brandon Belt from Triple-A Fresno.

Keppinger has been on the trade block ever since he returned from foot surgery at the end of May.  Since replacing Bill Hall as the Astros’ primary second baseman, he’s hit .307/.320/.436 with four homers and 20 RBI in 163 at-bats.  Rarely one to swing and miss, he had just four walks and seven strikeouts in 43 games.  Last year, he hit .288/.351/.393 in 514 at-bats for Houston.

The 31-year-old Keppinger will fill the hole at second base the Giants have dealt with ever since losing Freddy Sanchez to a shoulder injury.  The Giants originally picked up Hall after he was released by the Astros, but he struggled and is currently on the DL.  If Sanchez is able to avoid season-ending surgery and return next month, then Keppinger will likely slide into a utility role.

The cost for Keppinger was a pair of modest prospects.  Sosa, 25, was one regarded as one of the Giants’ best prospects, but his stock as slipped the last couple of years.  The Giants shifted him to the pen in Triple-A this year with brutal results; he had a 10.41 ERA in 17 appearances before being sent back to Double-A.  Restored to the rotation in the Eastern League, he had a 2.68 ERA and a 36/8 K/BB ratio in 40 1/3 innings.

Stoffel, 22, was also pitching for Double-A Richmond and had a 3.98 ERA as the team’s primary closer.

The Astros should be pleased if one of the two turns into a decent bullpen arm for the team.

The Giants also recalled Belt after he hit .293/.442/.610 with three homers in 12 games for Triple-A Fresno.  He’ll likely get Pat Burrell’s at-bats in left field for now.

21-year-old catcher Hector Sanchez, who was just called up last week, was returned to the minors.  He played in three games and went 0-for-3.

To replace Keppinger, the Astros called up one of their top prospects, Jose Altuve, from Double-A Corpus Christi.

Matt Shoemaker to undergo MRI on sprained left knee

Matt Shoemaker
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Blue Jays starter Matt Shoemaker has been diagnosed with a left knee sprain following his early departure from Saturday’s game. He’s scheduled to undergo an MRI on Sunday, after which the club will be able to determine the extent of his injury and draw up a more definite timeline for his return to the mound.

The right-hander held the A’s scoreless through three innings of three-hit, one-strikeout ball on Saturday. In the bottom of the third, with two outs and Matt Chapman on first, Shoemaker helped complete an inning-ending putout after Chapman tried to steal second. He tagged Chapman between first and second base, but appeared to twist his leg in the process and immediately started limping away.

Shoemaker was helped off the field after the play and was swiftly replaced by righty Sam Gaviglio in the bottom of the fourth. This is the first serious injury the 32-year-old has sustained since he underwent forearm surgery and missed nearly all of his 2018 campaign with the Angels. While he’s not expected to be sidelined for quite as long this time around, it’s still a concerning setback for the Blue Jays’ no. 2 starter, who currently boasts a sterling 1.57 ERA, 2.8 BB/9, and 7.5 SO/9 through his first 28 2/3 innings of 2019.

The Blue Jays will undoubtedly feel the lack of Shoemaker’s presence over the next few days, but they managed deliver a blowout win on Saturday even without his help. Behind six innings of one-run ball from Gaviglio and Elvis Luciano, the offense mustered up 10 runs — the most they’ve collected in a single game all season — and kept the A’s hardest hits at bay with impressive catches from Billy McKinney and Freddy Galvis.