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What’s on Tap: Previewing Thursday’s action

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Phillies right-hander Alec Asher will make his 2016 debut on Thursday night in a 7:05 PM EDT start opposite the Nationals A.J. Cole at Nationals Park.

Asher, 24, was suspended 80 games on June 16 earlier this year after testing positive for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, a performance enhancing drug. Which really goes to show that simply taking a PED alone doesn’t make you a good athlete. Asher never had the most impressive minor league numbers, posting an aggregate 3.97 ERA last year in 24 starts between Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock in the Rangers’ minor league system as well as Triple-A Lehigh Valley after the Phillies acquired him in the Cole Hamels trade. In seven major league starts last year, he had an ugly 9.31 ERA.

A lot of people — fans and sportswriters alike — have this idea that PEDs are like Popeye’s spinach where you take the substance and it instantly makes your muscles bigger and your reflexes faster, leading to undeniably improved on-field performance. Asher is a good reminder that that’s not the case.

The rest of Thursday’s action…

Cincinnati Reds (Dan Straily) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Ivan Nova), 7:05 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays (Alex Cobb) @ New York Yankees (CC Sabathia), 7:05 PM EDT

Milwaukee Brewers (Junior Guerra) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Jaime Garcia), 7:15 PM EDT

Colorado Rockies (Jeff Hoffman) @ San Diego Padres (Clayton Richard), 10:10 PM EDT

Texas Rangers (Derek Holland) @ Seattle Mariners (Taijuan Walker), 10:10 PM EDT

Red Sox place Chris Sale on 10-day injured list

Chris Sale
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Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale has been placed on the 10-day injured list with left elbow inflammation, the club revealed Saturday. The assignment is retroactive to August 14. In a corresponding roster move, right-handed reliever Ryan Brasier was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket.

It’s an alarming development for the 30-year-old ace, who has been remarkably injury-free after dealing with a lingering case of shoulder inflammation last summer. While he hasn’t replicated the career-high results he delivered over the last two seasons, he still leads Red Sox pitchers with 3.6 fWAR and will head to the IL with a 6-11 record in 25 starts, a 4.40 ERA, 2.3 BB/9, and league-best 13.3 SO/9 through 147 1/3 innings. A timetable has not been given for his return, nor has the severity of his injury been disclosed. Per Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski, Sale has been experiencing pain in his elbow since Wednesday and will undergo further evaluation in the days to come.

Brasier, 31, was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket in mid-July after pitching to mixed results in the majors. He currently holds a 4.46 ERA, 2.7 BB/9, and 8.0 SO/9 with the Red Sox, though his results in Triple-A — one run, one walk, and 13 strikeouts over 9 1/3 innings — suggest that he might be capable of even sharper results when he rejoins the big league club.