Pittsburgh just announced that hard-throwing minor leaguer Duke Welker underwent Tommy John elbow surgery, knocking the 28-year-old right-hander out for the remainder of this season and likely much of next year.
Welker was traded from the Pirates to the Twins for Justin Morneau in August, but then before he ever appeared in a game for Minnesota’s organization he was later traded back to Pittsburgh for minor leaguer Kris Johnson.
There was really no firm explanation given for the odd pair of moves at the time, although considering Welker made nine appearances at Triple-A this season before being shut down presumably a pre-existing injury wasn’t to blame.
Welker made his MLB debut with the Pirates last season and has a 3.32 ERA with 110 strikeouts in 106 innings at Triple-A.
It’s been one issue after the next for Indians reliever Andrew Miller, and on Saturday, the left-hander landed back on the 10-day disabled list with right knee inflammation. According to comments made by club manager Terry Francona, Miller’s knee has been a problem since the start of the year. The team has yet to determine a concrete timetable for his return to the bullpen.
Miller, 33, hasn’t looked like his usual sub-2.00 ERA, 2.0+ fWAR self this season, though he paired a 4.40 ERA and 6.3 BB/9 with an impressive 14.4 SO/9 across his first 14 1/3 innings. A left hamstring strain and minor back injury hampered his effectiveness on the mound, though this appears to be a more serious issue — especially given the five weeks he spent recovering from a tendon injury in his right knee last year.
In corresponding moves, the Indians designated right-hander Oliver Drake for assignment and recalled Triple-A right-handers Ben Taylor and Evan Marshall. Taylor, 25, was working on a 3.63 ERA, 1.0 BB/9 and 11.4 SO/9 through 17 1/3 innings in Triple-A Columbus, while 28-year-old Marshall turned in a terrific 0.77 ERA, 0.8 BB/9 and 6.9 SO/9 over his first 11 2/3 innings. Neither reliever has pitched more than a handful of innings at the big league level in 2018.