Scott Downs entered the All-Star break having allowed one earned run in 30 innings, but he’s coughed up nine runs in five innings since then and now the Angels have placed him on the disabled list with a strained shoulder.
According to manager Mike Scioscia “right now it’s a minor issue and we want to keep it that way.”
Hisanori Takahashi was called up from Triple-A to take Downs’ spot on the roster and in the bullpen, although Scioscia won’t trust him to fill Downs’ late-inning role.
At age 36 any type of shoulder problem is a big worry, but the left-hander told Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times that the injury didn’t occur until Friday and wasn’t to blame for his previous second-half struggles.
Downs has somewhat quietly been one of the best relievers in baseball since shifting to the bullpen full time in 2007, throwing a total of 325 innings with a 2.21 ERA during that time and never posting an ERA above 3.09.
The Mariners are in the midst of reconstructing their roster, a process which most recently resulted in the trade of first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnación to the Yankees, per a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan. While the teams have yet to publicly confirm the deal, the Mariners are expected to receive pitching prospect Juan Then and will likely eat a significant portion of Encarnación’s salary as well.
Encarnación is a sizable get for the Yankees, who could benefit from the veteran’s power and consistency in their ongoing drive toward the postseason. The 36-year-old infielder missed some time with a bout of lower back tightness, dental issues, and soreness in his left hand, but has still maintained a decent .241/.356/.531 batting line with an AL-best 21 home runs, an .888 OPS, and 1.7 fWAR through his first 289 plate appearances of the year. Per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, Encarnación has another $11-12 million left on his contract in 2019, with a $20 million option for the 2020 season and a $5 million buyout.
Then, 19, was acquired by the Yankees in a three-person trade with the Mariners during the 2017 offseason. The right-hander currently ranks no. 27 in the Yankees’ system and made his last pro ball appearance for New York’s rookie-level affiliate in 2018, pitching to a 2.70 ERA, 2.0 BB/9, and 7.6 SO/9 across 50 innings. It’s not clear if any other players are involved in the trade, though USA Today’s Bob Nightengale notes that no other prospects are thought to be included in the package for Encarnación.