Nathan Eovaldi’s matchup against the Rangers on Monday didn’t look great for him on paper.
After all, he struggles against left-handed bats and Texas possesses a handful of tough lefty hitters. There’s also the fact that the entered the contest sporting a 6.11 ERA. So, naturally, the hard-throwing right-hander decided it was a night for him to flirt with a no-hitter.
Eovaldi tossed six hitless frames before Nomar Mazara singled to lead off the seventh inning. He finished the night with seven shutout innings, allowing two hits and two walks while recording six strikeouts.
It’s always been hard not to be infatuated with Eovaldi’s big arm. He averaged 97 mph and topped out at 99.3 mph with his fastball on Monday, according to BrooksBaseball.net. That kind of velocity is a regular thing with him. As mentioned, though, he’s always had issues with left-handed batters. They’re still batting .300 against him this season even after Monday’s outing. Last year lefty hitters batted .314/.375/.406 versus Eovaldi.
Eovaldi was bitten by the home run ball in his first three outings of the season, which was surprising since he’s not a guy who’s given up many longballs in his career. But, even with that 6.11 ERA entering Monday, Eovaldi was showing a pulse with a 22/3 K/BB ratio. The K/BB ratio is now 28/5 over 24 2/3 innings this season, offering some hope.
Eovaldi is a hurler that fantasy owners should probably still be looking to spot start in good matchups rather than roll out there no matter what, but he remains an intriguing guy. The righty gets the Red Sox at Fenway Park this weekend.
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We’ve gotten used to so many young stars coming up to the majors and producing right away the last few years that it’s easy to forget it’s not always a smooth transition to the big leagues. Such is the case with Byron Buxton.
The Twins elected to option the young outfielder to Triple-A Rochester on Monday after Buxton produced a .195/.239/.316 batting line over his first 187 major league plate appearances. That includes an ugly 68/8 K/BB ratio.
There’s no getting around the fact that Buxton was awful, but keep in mind that he turned just 22 over the offseason and has only 60 games of experience at Double-A and 13 games at Triple-A. That he struggled so badly was certainly disappointing but not terribly surprising.
Buxton was ranked as a top-10 prospect for three straight seasons and either No. 1 or No. 2 overall by Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus prior to the 2014 and 2015 campaigns. He’s been so highly thought of due to plus tools across the board, and it’s way, way too soon to give up on that kind of upside. Those in redraft leagues can feel free to jettison that youngster, but keeper leaguers should hold tight.
"He's one of my favorite people around here in terms of what he brings," manager Paul Molitor said. "He's a very humble young man with an extremely talented gift set. We've tried to exhibit patience, but it got to the point where it started to affect him a little bit, and that's the last thing we want to have happen, is for him to lose confidence. With the talent and the speed he has, he needs to learn to put the ball in play more."
The Twins will go with Danny Santana and Eddie Rosario in center field with Buxton out of the picture. Santana was activated from the disabled list Monday after missing a couple weeks with a hamstring injury and he started in center and batted ninth against the Indians, going 1-for-3 with a run scored. It sounds like he’ll get the first look at the position. Like Buxton, Rosario has struggled this season with a .203/.239/.328 batting line, although he had been much better of late prior to a 1-for-15 weekend against the Nationals.
Either Santana or Rosario could potentially carve out some fantasy value, especially if they’re able to seize the center field job outright. Rosario has a little pop and speed and Santana has potential as a stolen base threat. However, both are flawed hitters with serious plate discipline issues. They’re probably best left on the waiver wire in mixed leagues.
Indians Lose Carrasco, Add Brantley
Those who drafted Carlos Carrasco as their fantasy ace this spring have been dealt a major blow. The right-hander exited Sunday’s start versus the Tigers with a left hamstring injury, and an MRI on Monday revealed a moderate strain. He’s expected to be on the shelf for 4-6 weeks.
Given how bad the injury looked, the Indians are probably relatively pleased about a 4-6 week timetable for Carrasco. Also, since the injury is to his leg and not his arm, we have every ready to believe the righty should return to being a fantasy stud as soon as he’s back. Still, it’s obviously a significant loss for the Indians and for Carrasco’s fantasy owners.
"Missing him, whether it's a month or two, it's not fun," manager Terry Francona said. "But, now it'll be like [the front office] made a trade for a really good pitcher maybe in June. ... He'll come back firing and that'll give us a big lift. So, yeah, I think it was [good news], because it could've been season ending."
Some off days in the schedule could allow the Indians to go with four starters for a little while, but Trevor Bauer is set to assume Carrasco’s spot in the rotation at some point. Bauer surprisingly lost out on a rotation spot to Cody Anderson and Josh Tomlin and has been relegated to mop-up duty this month. He’s struck out 14 over 11 1/3 relief innings but also walked five while posting a 4.76 ERA. In other words, pretty Bauer-esque numbers. Bauer should help fantasy owners in the strikeout department, but you’d be silly to expect anything else from him.
The Indians may be without arguably their best pitcher for a while, but they got their best position player back Monday with Michael Brantley activated from the disabled list. Brantley successfully rehabbed from surgery to repair the labrum in his right shoulder, returning on the early end of a projected 5-6 month timetable.
Brantley has been one of the better players in the American League the last two seasons, putting up a .319/.382/.494 batting line. However, expectations for a player coming back from major shoulder surgery should probably be kept relatively in check. The 28-year-old had looked to have a shot to be ready for Opening Day after playing in a couple mid-March Cactus League games, but his shoulder didn’t bounce back well from those contests and he had to be shut down for a little while. Brantley also played back-to-back rehab games just once before being activated and wasn’t in the lineup Monday. The Indians won’t overload him with playing time right out of the gate.
The Indians have done a lot of mixing and matching in their outfield while Brantley was sidelined. With Brantley back in his customary left field spot, the Tribe figures to go with a Tyler Naquin/Rajai Davis platoon in center and a Lonnie Chisenhall/Marlon Byrd platoon in right. It wouldn’t be a surprise if they don’t employ a strict platoon, as Davis and Byrd should see some time against right-handers.
National League Quick Hits: Travis d'Arnaud left Monday’s game versus the Reds with a sore right shoulder and could need a stint on the disabled list ... Yoenis Cespedes missed a third straight start Monday after having fluid drained from his bruised right leg ... Michael Conforto went 3-for-3 with a solo homer, a walk, and three runs scored Monday against the Reds ... Giancarlo Stanton had an RBI double and solo homer in Monday’s victory over the Dodgers ... Nick Hundley was activated from the 7-day concussion disabled list Monday ... Ender Inciarte (hamstring) will increase his running and could begin a rehab assignment by the end of the week ... Carl Crawford (back) is expected to be activated from the disabled list on Tuesday ... Jean Segura went 4-for-6 with a three-run homer in Monday’s win over the Cardinals ... The Rockies optioned Jordan Lyles to Triple-A, giving Chris Rusin his rotation spot ... Jeff Locke tossed six shutout innings while striking out eight in Monday’s win over the Rockies ... Matt Joyce singled and slugged a three-run homer in a rare start on Monday ...
American League Quick Hits: Miguel Cabrera busted out of his slump Monday, going 4-for-4 with a pair of homers and four RBI in a win over the Athletics ... Taijuan Walker fanned 11 batters over seven innings Monday in a victory over the Astros ... Albert Pujols slugged a couple homers against the Royals on Monday ... Chris Archer recorded 10 strikeouts while tossing 6 2/3 innings of shutout ball in Monday's victory over the Orioles ... Rick Porcello spun 6 1/3 shutout innings while notching six strikeouts in a win over the Braves on Monday ... Michael Saunders (hamstring) went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer in his return to the lineup on Monday ... Jacoby Ellsbury singled and smacked his first homer of the season in Monday's win over the Rangers ... Kevin Gausman pitched well in his season debut Monday, striking out seven over five frames of one-run ball in a loss to the Rays ... Ervin Santana (back) could miss a second straight start ... Glen Perkins (shoulder) has yet to resume a throwing program ... Cole Hamels (groin) threw a bullpen session Monday and could rejoin the Rangers’ rotation on Saturday ... Shane Greene (blister) isn’t a given to make his next scheduled start on Friday ... James McCann (ankle) could begin a minor league rehab assignment on Tuesday ... Joaquin Benoit has landed on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation ... The Twins released David Murphy ... Jesse Hahn is expected to join the A’s rotation this week after Eric Surkamp was sent down ... Jake Marisnick was optioned to Triple-A Monday ...