The worst part of Tuesday night for the Phillies wasn’t their 7-2 loss to the Marlins that further buried them in the National League East standings with a record of 17-33.
The worst part of the night for the Phillies was an injury diagnosis.
24-year-old starter Vince Velasquez has a right elbow flexor strain, which will send him to the 10-day disabled list on Wednesday and likely keep him shelved for much longer than that.
Velasquez was lifted from his start Tuesday in Miami after surrendering a homer, a double, and a long flyout to center field to open the bottom of the second inning. His four-seam fastball had dropped from 95 mph in the first inning to 88 mph in the second inning, and after throwing just his 19th pitch of the evening he slowly walked off the field at Marlins Park with a trainer at his side -- both of their heads hung low.
Velasquez told reporters after the game that he believes the elbow strain is of the “mild” variety, but an MRI is already scheduled for later this week and the results of that exam should provide the real answers as to a recovery timetable. He underwent Tommy John surgery back in 2010, just as he was establishing himself as a top prospect in the Astros’ system. But it’s not uncommon anymore for pitchers to undergo the surgery twice.
Velasquez was traded to Philadelphia in December 2015 as part of the Ken Giles deal and the hard-throwing youngster had some very promising stretches in 2016 before mostly struggling this year.
However this shakes out, the Phillies’ present and future both appear a little dimmer.
Clay Buchholz is likely done for the season following mid-April forearm surgery and the Phillies are relying on unreliable and unestablished rotation options like Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin, Ben Lively, and Jake Thompson behind more slightly more reliable starters Jeremy Hellickson, Aaron Nola, and Jerad Eickhoff. As a group, the Phillies pitching staff has produced a dreadful 4.82 ERA in 2017.
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Astros Promote Prospect Paulino
Astros starter Joe Musgrove landed on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday with discomfort in his throwing shoulder. Taking his rotation spot Wednesday versus the Twins will be 23-year-old right-hander David Paulino, who was called up from Triple-A Fresno in a corresponding roster move and arrive in the Astros’ clubhouse during Tuesday night’s game.
Paulino got off to a late start this season due to an elbow injury and he had posted underwhelming numbers over three starts for Fresno, but the 6-foot-7 Dominican hurler was a consensus top-100 prospect leading into the 2017 campaign after registering a 2.00 ERA and 106/19 K/BB ratio in 90 innings across three different minor league levels in 2016.
Musgrove is hoping to return to Houston’s rotation next week, but shoulder injuries often come with setbacks and the Astros can find more spots for Paulino if he pitches well Wednesday afternoon in Minnesota. Musgrove, it should be noted, was sporting an ugly 4.89 ERA and 1.43 WHIP through 53 1/3 innings (10 starts) this season for the American League West-leading Astros. Mike Fiers has a 4.96 ERA and 1.50 WHIP even after pitching well in Tuesday’s win over the Twins.
Paulino carries short-term streaming appeal and there’s a lot to like in the long term as well.
Calixte Gets The Call
If you’re looking for a sneaky roster addition this week -- somebody with the potential to provide both power and speed with easy-to-acquire effort -- new Giants utilityman Orlando Calixte might be of interest.
The versatile 25-year-old was promoted from Triple-A Sacramento on Tuesday afternoon and batted leadoff in his Giants debut, going 2-for-5 with a single, a double, and two RBI in a loss against the visiting Nationals. He started in left field but shifted to center when Gorkys Hernandez made an early exit and then finished the game in right field. That’s something the athletic Calixte is capable of doing.
The former Royals prospect was batting .287/.331/.507 with eight home runs, 26 RBI, 11 stolen bases, and 21 runs scored through 41 games this year at the Triple-A level while appearing defensively at shortstop, second base, third base, right field, and center field for the Sacramento River Cats. If he produces, the grasping-at-straws Giants will find places to start Calixte -- and they could keep trying him at leadoff when he gets those starts. San Francisco stands 22-32 on the season after Tuesday night’s loss to Washington.
National League Quick Hits: Major League Baseball suspended Bryce Harper four games and Hunter Strickland six games following Monday’s on-field brawl in San Francisco, though both players have appealed … Robbie Ray notched his first career complete game and shutout Tuesday in the Diamondbacks’ victory over the Pirates … Zack Cozart had two solo homers and two walks Tuesday in the Reds’ loss to the Blue Jays … Stephen Piscotty is expected to return to the Cardinals’ lineup Wednesday after missing several games due to a private matter … Marcell Ozuna went 3-for-5 and hit his 13th homer Tuesday as the Marlins topped the Phillies … Gregory Polanco (ankle) was held out of the Pirates’ starting lineup Tuesday against the Diamondbacks … Yoenis Cespedes (quad, hamstring) was able to do some hitting in Florida on Tuesday … Maikel Franco is day-to-day with a minor illness … Jedd Gyorko was excused from the Cardinals on Tuesday afternoon to welcome the birth of his first daughter … Jeurys Familia (shoulder) hopes to be cleared to begin a throwing program in two weeks … Dodgers second baseman Logan Forsythe reached base five times Monday in St. Louis … Brandon Phillips (knee) remained out of the Braves’ starting lineup Tuesday night in Anaheim … Madison Bumgarner (shoulder) played catch from 60 feet on Tuesday at AT&T Park … Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia went 3-for-6 on Tuesday, extending his hitting streak to 10 games … Mets right-hander Tyler Pill pitched 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball against the Brewers in his first major league start Tuesday … Taijuan Walker (blister) threw a successful three-inning simulated game on Tuesday and could return to the Diamondbacks’ rotation Sunday in Miami … Padres rookie starter Dinelson Lamet improved to 2-0 on Tuesday after striking out eight batters over five innings in a win over the Cubs … Nationals closer Koda Glover earned his fourth save in five days on Tuesday night against the Giants … Justin Nicolino left his start Tuesday against the Phillies after suffering a left index finger contusion … An MRI taken Tuesday on Manuel Margot's right calf showed no major structural damage … Rockies placed setup man Adam Ottavino on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation … Tom Murphy (wrist) served as the DH for five innings in an extended spring training game Tuesday.
American League Quick Hits: Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski said he expects Dustin Pedroia (wrist) to return from the disabled list in 10 days … Albert Pujols slugged career home run No. 599 on Tuesday night against the Braves … Indians rookie Bradley Zimmer had a two-RBI double and a two-run homer in Tuesday's win over the Athletics … Nelson Cruz left Tuesday's game against the Rockies with tightness in his right calf … Miguel Sano is day-to-day with a minor illness … Adam Jones (ankle, hip) was scratched from the Orioles’ starting lineup again on Tuesday … Mike Napoli (back) remained out of the Rangers’ starting lineup on Tuesday night … Trevor Bauer struck out a career-high 14 batters in a win over the A’s on Tuesday … Cam Bedrosian (groin) is expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment soon … Felix Hernandez (shoulder) threw another successful bullpen session Tuesday … Jacoby Ellsbury (concussion) reported feeling significant improvement Tuesday … Josh Donaldson went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer Tuesday in the Blue Jays' defeat of the Reds … Brad Miller (abdomen) is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment Wednesday with High-A Charlotte … Yunel Escobar (hamstring) is on track to be activated from the disabled list Thursday … Matt Holliday and Brett Gardner each blasted two home runs in Tuesday's victory in Baltimore … Royals lefty Eric Skoglund had an impressive major league debut Tuesday, spinning 6 1/3 shutout innings while yielding just two hits in a victory over the Tigers … Zach Britton (forearm, elbow) has begun increasing the intensity of his flat-ground throwing … Francisco Liriano (shoulder) will return to the Blue Jays' rotation on Friday against the Yankees … Kyle Seager went 3-for-5 with a homer, a double and four RBI as the Mariners bested the Rockies on Tuesday … Cameron Maybin was held out of the Angels’ lineup Tuesday due to pain in his side … Tyson Ross (shoulder) is scheduled to make one more minor league rehab start Saturday with Triple-A Round Rock … Mitch Haniger (oblique) is not expected to take on-field batting practice before Friday … Marcus Semien played catch Monday for the first time since undergoing right wrist surgery … Elvis Andrus hit a three-run homer as part of a five-RBI night Tuesday in a win over the Rays … Greg Bird (ankle) is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment Thursday with High-A Tampa … Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Steve Pearce (calf) is at least another 2-3 weeks away …Byron Buxton went 2-for-3 with an RBI, a walk and a steal against the Astros on Tuesday … Astros prospect Kyle Tucker has been promoted from High-A Buies Creek to Double-A Corpus Christi … Austin Bibens-Dirkx will start for the Rangers on Wednesday night against the Rays … Glen Perkins faced live hitters Tuesday for the first time since April 20, 2016 … Blue Jays released right-hander Mat Latos.