As first relayed by beat reporter James Wagner at the Washington Post, the Nationals have officially placed outfielder Bryce Harper on the 15-day disabled list because of a sprained left thumb. Steven Souza Jr. was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse in a corresponding 25-man roster move Sunday to provide outfield depth in Harper’s absence.
Harper suffered the thumb sprain Friday night against the Padres when he dove head-first into third base after a bases-loaded triple in the bottom of the third inning. He underwent an MRI on Saturday and will be examined by a specialist this week. The Nats believe he may have some ligament damage. “Doesn’t look good,” a source told the Post.
Harper, 21, was batting .289/.352/.422 with one home run and nine RBI in 22 games this season.
It’s maybe worth noting that he got benched a week ago for a lack of hustle.
Funny, then, that he screwed up his left thumb on a hustle play.
The Tampa Bay Rays have signed lefty swingman Ryan Merritt to a minor league contract. Nah, it’s not a big signing but we’ll take anything today.
Merritt, who has spent his entire career in the Indians organization, spent the entire 2018 season at Triple-A Columbus. It wasn’t a bad year for him — he posted a 3.79 ERA and a 52/2 K/BB ratio in 13 starts and two relief appearances covering 71.1 innings — but the Tribe just couldn’t find a role for him at the big league level. He has shown in the past, however, that he can hack it in the bigs, having posted a 1.71 ERA in 31.2 innings with the Indians between 2016-2017.
His thing is that he simply doesn’t strike guys out at anything approaching a typical clip for a big leaguer: 3.7 per nine innings in his small sample of major league outings and 6.3 Ks per nine innings in the minors. Which, while it may not prevent him from having success at the big league level, is likely a reason for the limited number of chances he’s been given.
The Rays are probably the best place he could go, frankly. They’ve shown themselves willing to utilize guys in unique ways and are more likely than most teams to find places to spot a lefty control specialist who has shown he can both start and come out of the pen.