According to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, the Astros announced this morning that left-hander Sergio Escalona has a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow and will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery next week.
Escalona, who was acquired from the Phillies last January, posted a 2.93 ERA and 25/11 K/BB ratio over 27 2/3 innings out of Houston’s bullpen last season. The 27-year-old held left-handed batters to a .188/.278/.313 batting line and a .590 OPS.
With Escalona sidelined, Wesley Wright and Fernando Abad will likely compete for the team’s left-handed specialist job. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow hasn’t dismissed the possibility of using non-roster invitee Zach Duke out of the bullpen if he doesn’t win a spot in the starting rotation.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.
McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).
McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.