After a couple of weekend reports about B.J. Upton, we hear today that the Phillies are talking to the Rays about inquiring the lesser of the Upton brothers. That’s from Jen Royle, who says that the Nats are still interested as well.
Upton is having a pretty terrible year so far, hitting .229/.310/.395, but he plays good defense and, as has been said so many time, has the potential to be so much better than he is. He certainly wouldn’t be a difference-maker like Carlos Beltran, but given how comfy the Phillies’ lead is at the moment, their biggest need isn’t a difference-maker as much as it is felxibility and freshness in the second half and all of that.
And hey, if Upton explodes for a month or two like he’s capable of doing, all the better.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said that pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will join the starting rotation on Monday or Tuesday to face the Athletics, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Eovaldi’s rehab outing with Triple-A Durham went well, even though he gave up eight runs in four innings.
Eovaldi, 28, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had arthroscopic surgery in March to remove loose bodies in his elbow. It’s been a long road back. Knowing Eovaldi needed to recover from surgery, the Rays signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in 2017 that included a $2 million club option for 2018 that they exercised last November.
When Eovaldi last pitched, he ranked among baseball’s hardest throwers, particularly among starters. He averaged 97.1 MPH on his fastball in 2016. Among starters who racked up at least 100 innings that season, only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard had a higher average velocity (97.9 MPH). It remains to be seen if he still has that velocity after undergoing two procedures on his elbow.
The Rays will be glad to have Eovaldi back. The club has sustained injuries to Jake Faria, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose De Leon.