It appears that Aaron Nola’s first full major league season is going to end with a whimper.
The 23-year-old right-hander was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a right elbow sprain and Phillies manager Pete Mackanin indicated to the media that his young starter is doubtful to return this season. Either as a precautionary measure -- which would make sense given where the Phillies are and what Nola means for their future -- or because this injury is pretty serious. Nola had been scheduled to take the mound Wednesday night against the Giants, so the Phillies had to execute an emergency callup of Phil Klein to handle that turn instead. Klein was hammered for four earned runs on eight hits over five innings in a loss.
Nola got off to a tremendous start this season and entered the second week of June with a 2.65 ERA and 85/15 K/BB ratio in 78 innings, but everything fell apart quickly from there and he’ll finish 2016 (presumably) with a season ERA of 4.78. He posted a dreadful 9.82 ERA and 36/14 K/BB ratio over his final 33 frames.
Philly maintained throughout that rough stretch that there was nothing physically wrong with the 2014 first-round pick, but that obviously doesn’t seem right now. His fastball velocity had been fluctuating for the past few months and it fell to a season-low in his last start, when he gave up three runs on eight hits in just five innings versus the lowly Braves.
Further tests are coming for Nola over the weekend. Let’s hope this doesn’t lead to major surgery.
Jake Thompson is expected to take the vacant spot in the Philadelphia rotation, with Klein heading right back to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Thursday. Thompson, a consensus top-100 prospect leading into the 2016 campaign, has registered a 2.50 ERA, 1.095 WHIP, and 87/37 K/BB ratio in 129 2/3 innings this season at the Triple-A level. The 22-year-old right-hander could have matchup-to-matchup fantasy streaming appeal down the stretch.
Editor's Note: Don't whiff on this special FanDuel offer: win your first contest or get your money back (up to $10) to keep playing. Try FanDuel now.
Yanks Youth Movement Continues With Sanchez
That quote applies directly to top catching prospect Gary Sanchez, who was promoted from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre late Tuesday night and contributed a single and a run scored to the Yankees’ 9-5 defeat of the crosstown Mets on Wednesday. Sanchez served as the Yankees’ designated hitter in that one, but he’s expected to get regular starts at catcher down the stretch with Brian McCann shifting to more of a DH-oriented role. That pushes Alex Rodriguez further down the Yankees bench.
Sanchez was batting .282/.339/.468 with 10 home runs, 21 doubles, and 50 RBI in 71 games this season at the Triple-A level. He had also racked up seven stolen bases, but that’s probably not going to be a big part of his game moving forward. The 23-year-old is a powerful hitter moving into an everyday-like gig in a power-friendly home park and he plays a position where it can be difficult to find production. There’s a lot to like here for fantasy purposes -- long term obviously, but also for this year’s stretch run. Sanchez is going to play a lot.
McCullers Disabled, Musgrove Promoted In Houston
Lance McCullers was pulled from his start Tuesday night against the Blue Jays after experiencing discomfort in his right elbow and he was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with what’s being called a mild elbow sprain. He will be shut down for the next two weeks, and the Astros plan to be pretty cautious from there with the 22-year-old budding star.
"We'll know more in the next couple weeks,” manager A.J. Hinch told the Houston Chronicle on Wednesday. “What I can tell you is he's not going to do any throwing for two weeks, we'll reevaluate him and hopefully he'll be feeling better and we can build him back up."
Taking his spot in the rotation this Sunday against the Rangers will be 23-year-old right-hander Joe Musgrove, who struck out eight batters over 4 1/3 scoreless innings Tuesday in relief of McCullers. That was Musgrove’s major league debut.
Musgrove, a supplemental first-round pick (46th overall) in 2011 out of a California high school, had a 2.74 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 87/10 K/BB ratio in 85 1/3 innings this season between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Fresno. We probably wouldn’t advise using him Sunday versus Texas, but he’s probably going to get several turns in the Houston rotation and there will be better matchups down the road.
National League Quick Hits: Mets placed outfielder Yoenis Cespedes on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right quad … Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman (wrist) remained sidelined Wednesday … Andrew McCutchen, batting just .241 with a .719 OPS in 97 games this season, will be rested until Friday … Mets GM Sandy Alderson said Wednesday that it “doesn’t look good” for Lucas Duda (back) returning this season … A.J. Pollock faced live pitching Tuesday for the first time since fracturing his right elbow … Zack Cozart was absent again Wednesday against the Cardinals due to a bruised right ring finger … A.J. Ramos blew a save in brutal fashion Wednesday as the Marlins fell to the Cubs … Dodgers lefty Brett Anderson (back) allowed two unearned runs over four innings Tuesday in a rehab start with High-A Rancho Cucamonga … Max Scherzer struck out 11 batters while allowing three earned runs over eight innings Wednesday in a win over the Diamondbacks … Cardinals pitching prospect Luke Weaver has been promoted from Double-A Springfield to Triple-A Memphis … Yangervis Solarte went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer, three total RBI and four runs scored in Wednesday's win over the Brewers … Dodgers starter Rich Hill (blister) tested his finger by throwing a bullpen session on Wednesday … Pirates outfielder Matt Joyce hit a three-run homer and walked Wednesday to raise his OPS to .983 … Cubs placed starter Jason Hammel on the bereavement list Wednesday, but he is expected to return in time for his next scheduled start … Ivan Nova is scheduled to make his Pirates debut at home Saturday against the Reds … Clayton Kershaw (back) was transferred to the 60-day disabled list on Wednesday, meaning he can’t return before August 27 … Francisco Cervelli was held out of the Pirates’ lineup Wednesday with a possible concussion … Jose Reyes (oblique) is expected to be ready to return from the disabled list on August 10 … Phillies infielder Andres Blanco expects to have the pin removed from his fractured left index finger in two weeks … Tyson Ross (shoulder, ankle) threw about five pitches off the mound Tuesday … Diamondbacks infielder Nick Ahmed (hip) is scheduled to visit a specialist in New York early next week … Julio Urias joined the Dodgers’ bullpen on Wednesday.
American League Quick Hits: X-rays turned up negative on Hanley Ramirez’s jammed left wrist and he is considered day-to-day … J.D. Martinez hit a go-ahead solo homer in the bottom of the eighth inning Wednesday to down the White Sox in his first game back from the disabled list … Rays shortstop Matt Duffy, out since June with an Achilles strain, will resume his minor league rehab assignment Thursday with High-A Charlotte … Francisco Liriano's first start with the Blue Jays will come against the Royals on Friday … Mark Teixeira launched a three-run homer Wednesday in the Yankees’ defeat of the Mets … Troy Tulowitzki remained absent from the Blue Jays’ starting lineup on Wednesday night against the Astros … Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier drilled a three-run homer and finished 2-for-4 with a stolen base Wednesday night against the Royals … Angels slugger C.J. Cron (hand) has received medical clearance to resume hitting … Mike Napoli homered in his fifth consecutive game Wednesday night against the Twins … James Jones will try to convert himself from an outfielder into a reliever … Byron Buxton was held out of the Twins’ starting lineup again on Wednesday due to a tweaked right knee … Orioles manager Buck Showalter expressed pessimism Wednesday that Joey Rickard (thumb) will be able to return before September … Josh Donaldson hit a pair of solo homers Wednesday against the Astros … Angels starter Nick Tropeano needs Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery … Marco Estrada limited the Astros to one run in seven innings and struck out seven Wednesday in a win … White Sox outfield prospect Charlie Tilson will undergo season-ending surgery to repair a torn left hamstring on Thursday … Angels released outfielder Craig Gentry.