Jorge Soler
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Jorge Soler unlikely to return in 2018

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler isn’t guaranteed to return to the field this season, manager Ned Yost told reporters Sunday. Soler had been working his way back from a lengthy stint on the disabled list after he fractured his left toe in mid-June, but experienced an unanticipated setback in his recovery this week and is no longer a lock to rejoin the team before the end of 2018.

Soler, 26, is in his second year with the Royals following a swap for the Cubs’ Wade Davis in the 2016 offseason. This was shaping up to be his most productive season to date: prior to the injury, he slashed .265/.354/.466 with nine home runs and an .820 OPS through 257 plate appearances for the team. During his two-game rehab stint at Triple-A Omaha, he went 2-for-8 with a pair of base hits, two walks and six strikeouts.

While Yost didn’t reveal the exact nature of the setback, it doesn’t sound like Soler is facing anything serious enough to compromise his playing time in 2019. Surgery was ruled out as a potential fix for the fracture earlier this season, and it’s likely that Soler is just looking at another few weeks of rest and rehabilitation at this point. The Royals, meanwhile, still have several options in the right field corner, with Jorge Bonifacio and Rosell Herrera to continue holding down the fort in Soler’s absence.

Gerrit Cole second-fastest to 200 strikeouts in a season

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Astros starter Gerrit Cole dominated the Athletics on Monday night, limiting them to one run on two hits and a walk while striking out 11. It marked his 12th start out of 22 this season with double-digit strikeouts, giving him 205 total on the season.

It is no surprise, then, to hear that Cole is the second-fastest in baseball history to reach 200 strikeouts in a season, per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. Cole got there in 133 1/3 innings. The only pitcher faster than Cole was Randy Johnson, who reached 200 K’s in 130 2/3 innings back in 2001 with the Diamondbacks.

Along with the 205 strikeouts, Cole holds an 11-5 record with a 3.03 ERA across 136 2/3 innings. Among qualified starters in the American League, only Charlie Morton (2.61), Mike Minor (2.86), José Berríos (2.96), and teammate Justin Verlander (2.99) have a better ERA than Cole, who has twice finished in the top-five in Cy Young Award voting.