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Baseball Daily Dose

Daily Dose: Giant Surprise

by Ryan Boyer
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

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It was a cool story when Dereck Rodriguez, son of Hall of Famer Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, was called up to the big leagues, but the young Rodriguez didn’t seem likely to have staying power. After all, we were talking about a 26-year-old former outfielder who signed with the Giants on a minor league contract over the winter. However, Dereck seems intent on making a name for himself.


Rodriguez blanked the Astros over seven superb innings Monday, yielding only three hits and no walks while recording seven strikeouts. Unfortunately, he lost out on a victory when Will Smith blew a save chance in the ninth inning, but that doesn’t diminish what was another stellar effort from Rodriguez.


Over his last eight appearances – seven starts – covering 49 1/3 innings, Rodriguez has posted a 1.28 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 39/12 K/BB ratio. The brilliant run has lowered the right-hander’s ERA on the season to 2.34.


Rodriguez first made the move to pitching at the pro level in 2014, so he’s still relatively new to the mound even though he’s 26. He boasts a 3.54 ERA in his minor league career across 427 1/3 frames.


While his overall whiff numbers are below average, Rodriguez has fanned 24 and walked just five over 26 1/3 innings in his four second-half outings. He’s punched out seven in back-to-back starts, which is a season high. Rodriguez also whiffed over a batter per frame at Triple-A Sacramento prior to his promotion. I don’t think we can rule out growth in the strikeout department given how new he is to pitching, although fantasy owners would be wise not to count on him being an asset in that area.


Rodriguez has been a flyball-heavy pitcher in the minors but less of one so far in the majors. However, while he might be due for some regression in the home run department, AT&T Park should help to suppress the longball. Some BABIP regression is probably the safer bet, as that number sits at .264 even though he entered Monday’s start having given up a 42.3 percent hard-hit rate. Among qualifiers, Cole Hamels has surrendered the most hard contact at 44.3 percent.


It’s hard to say at this point how much upside Rodriguez might have, but he’s gone from an unknown to a guy you might want to spot start to someone you should probably slot into your lineup. He’ll face the Pirates at home this weekend.


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Ailing Astros


The disabled list for the Astros is getting a little crowded these days.


The defending World Champs had already been without Carlos Correa (back) and Jose Altuve (knee) for a while (not to mention Brian McCann and Chris Devenski) and in the last couple days have added Lance McCullers and George Springer to the DL.


McCullers exited his start on Saturday against the Dodgers with what was called right elbow discomfort at the time, but on Monday we got a more specific diagnosis of a muscle strain in his right forearm. Manager A.J. Hinch said that the hurler is unlikely to pitch again before September.


It’s a vague timetable at this point for McCullers, but with previous DL stints the last couple years due to shoulder and elbow issues, you can bet that the Astros will be careful with the right-hander. If he does make it back healthy this season, McCullers would appear to be the most likely Houston starter to eventually transition to the bullpen in anticipation of the postseason. In other words, fantasy owners shouldn’t be expecting much from him the rest of the way and he’s probably safe to drop in most leagues.


The news wasn’t all bad for the injured Astros, though. While Springer landed on the DL Monday, it’s looking like his sprained left thumb could keep him out for only the minimum 10 days. The outfielder’s sprain is not to his ulnar collateral ligament, but rather the damage is around the first knuckle, which isn’t as nearly as big of a deal. Tony Kemp, Jake Marisnick and Josh Reddick started in the outfield for the Astros on Monday and the club also recalled Derek Fisher to take Springer’s roster spot.


Altuve got his ailing right knee looked at by team doctors Monday and Hinch said they were "happy with the progress he is making. They were very pleased with the healing and they have a pretty good plan in place to keep inching forward.” What exactly the plan is for the star second baseman isn’t known, but things look to be trending in a positive direction. Altuve has been on the shelf for the last week and a half.


There’s also Correa, who has been sidelined the longest of the group with a back ailment that’s kept him out since late June. It sounds like he will be the first of the bunch to make it back, though, as Correa will play a couple more rehab games on Tuesday and Wednesday and could be activated as soon as Thursday for the beginning of the Astros’ homestand. He’s gone 3-for-10 with a home run so far on his rehab assignment.


Health can’t come soon enough for the Astros, as the hard-charging Athletics are now sitting just 4.5 games back in the American League West.


Trout Still Out; Ohtani Progressing


The best player in baseball has missed the better part of a week due to injury and his fantasy owners will have to wait a few more days to get him back into the fold.


Mike Trout was given a cortisone injection in his ailing right wrist Monday and sat out his fifth straight game. The hope is that he’ll be ready to play by Friday.


"I think all the tests that he had point to just some inflammation that has to run its course," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "His injection will help that to happen. We anticipate him getting into baseball activities in a couple days and seeing how he feels for Friday."


Trout will have missed seven games and eight days by Friday, but there are no plans to place him on the disabled list. Eric Young Jr. has been filling in for the two-time MVP in center field.


"If you can get Mike Trout to play on the seventh day instead of the 10th day, I think you'd want to, right?" Scioscia said. "We're just going to let it run its course, and when it's 100 percent, he'll play."


It’s looking like another lost season for the Halos, but they’re not giving up hope of getting Shohei Ohtani back on the mound and the right-hander appears to be making some real progress.


Ohtani has advanced his throwing out to 120 feet and is doing so “with effort,” according to Scioscia. The 24-year-old on Monday also mimicked his throwing motion from a mound while holding a towel in his right hand.


"There's still some long toss that he has to get after," Scioscia said. "He's made a lot of progress, no setbacks. He'll continue to be evaluated, but this is absolutely moving in the right direction. We're very confident in that."


While Ohtani’s progress in working back from a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow has been encouraging to this point, he’s obviously still got a long ways to go. The Angels haven’t mapped out (or at least revealed) a plan for his return to bullpen sessions yet, and he’ll have to be built up with multiple ‘pen sessions and a simulated game or two before he’s deemed game-ready. That’s going to eat up a lot of the calendar, and it’s all assuming Ohtani doesn’t have a setback along the way.


Ohtani has been able to continue hitting while he rehabs on the pitching side, although he’s faded offensively. In 27 games out of the designated hitter spot since returning to action, he’s batting just .238, although he has homered five times.



American League Quick Hits: The Athletics acquired Mike Fiers from the Tigers for two players to be named later or cash considerations … Trevor Bauer struck out 11 batters over six scoreless innings Monday in the Indians' rout of the Twins … Lance Lynn whiffed nine while yielding just two hits and one walk across seven shutout innings in Monday’s win over the White Sox …  Edwin Encarnacion homered and drove in four runs Monday in the Indians' defeat of the Twins … Charlie Morton fanned eight over seven frames of one-run ball Monday in San Francisco … J.A. Happ (illness) remains on track to rejoin the Yankees' rotation Thursday against the Rangers … White Sox player development director Chris Getz told WSCR-AM 670 on Sunday that prospect outfielder Eloy Jimenez is "really close" to being called up to the majors … Aaron Judge (wrist) has yet to resume swinging a bat … Marwin Gonzalez went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer to lead the Astros to a comeback victory over the Giants on Monday … Nick Tropeano exited Monday’s start against the Tigers with right shoulder tightness but he hopes to take his next turn …


National League Quick Hits: Corey Seager -- who is already recovering from Tommy John surgery -- will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left hip Tuesday. The Dodgers expect him to be ready for spring training … Jake Arrieta struck out four over eight shutout innings but had to settle for a no-decision Monday in Arizona … Kyle Freeland fanned five over seven shutout innings in Monday’s victory over the Pirates … Zack Godley fanned seven while allowing two runs over 7 1/3 frames in a no-decision versus the Phillies on Monday … Joey Votto will not play Tuesday after his right knee became more sore as Monday's game progressed … Jeff McNeil went 3-for-4 with a solo homer and two runs scored in Monday’s win over the Reds … Marlins manager Don Mattingly was noncommittal when asked after Monday's game whether Kyle Barraclough was still his closer following another shaky performance … Yu Darvish (elbow) will throw a simulated game Wednesday … Tyler O'Neill (groin) landed on the disabled list Monday but is expected to be activated when first eligible on August 14 … Kris Bryant (shoulder) said Sunday that he's unsure when he'll be ready to swing a bat … Cole Hamels whiffed a pair while holding the Royals to one run over six frames in Monday’s victory … 

Ryan Boyer

Ryan Boyer is a baseball writer for NBC Sports Edge. He can also be found on Twitter.