As a minor leaguer Manny Machado was an elite shortstop prospect, but because the Orioles had J.J. Hardy there when he arrived in 2012 they shifted Machado to third base and he’s stayed there ever since.
Machado has developed into an MVP-caliber third baseman and not surprisingly his excellent defense there has been a huge part of his overall value, but tonight for the first time in his career the Orioles are starting him at shortstop.
Hardy was placed on the disabled list with a groin injury last week and manager Buck Showalter has decided he’d rather use Machado at a position he hasn’t played since 2012 than continue to use Ryan Flaherty and Paul Janish at shortstop fill-ins. Or at least that’s the case for one night.
Machado showing that he can be an above-average defensive shortstop would increase his already massive long-term value even further, although with Hardy signed through 2017 it’s likely just a short-term fix for the Orioles unless it leads to an offseason trade.
With just over a week left in the regular season, the Diamondbacks have elected to shut down infielder/outfielder Ketel Marte. Marte has been dealing with some lower back inflammation and stiffness over the last few days; on Friday, the team revealed that he was diagnosed with a stress reaction as well.
It doesn’t look as though the injury will compromise Marte’s 2020 campaign, but as Craig noted on Wednesday, his absence will likely have some effect on his NL MVP candidacy. The 25-year-old will wrap his first All-Star season with a .329/.389/.592 batting line, 32 home runs, a .981 OPS, and a staggering, career-best 7.1 fWAR through 628 plate appearances.
Marte told reporters Thursday that the back pain had been an issue “for the past two months,” though he didn’t comment on the severity of the injury. Despite his ability to play through the pain since July, the issue has clearly escalated in the last week or so. Although the loss of their most valuable contributor may have a negative impact on the D-backs’ chances of competing in the postseason, it’s undeniably a wise move to let Marte recuperate rather than pushing him to play for another week and running the risk of further injury.
Entering Friday’s series against the Padres — their last road series of the regular season — Arizona still has a sizable gap to close in order to earn one of two NL wild card spots. They’re five games out of postseason contention, with the Nationals, Brewers, Cubs, Mets, and Phillies ahead of them.