If the Diamondbacks weren’t already in favor of the universal designated hitter, perhaps they are now.
Ace Zac Gallen had to be scratched from a scheduled Cactus League start Monday due to soreness in his right lateral forearm. It’s an injury he suffered not while pitching, but when he was jammed while taking batting practice off a pitching machine back on March 10.
Gallen went ahead and made his next start on March 12 and pitched well. He then struggled in a March 17 outing and has admitted that he has dealt with some discomfort while throwing his curveball.
"I just thought it was something like always, you know, just get jammed, go away in a couple days," Gallen said. "I was fine pitching on it. Like I said the other pitches felt perfectly OK, but it was just kind of lingering and so we figured let's take a deeper dive and see what we got here."
Gallen underwent an MRI on Sunday and then an X-ray and a CT scan on Monday. He’s still waiting for the results of those tests before he knows how much time he might miss.
Even if Gallen doesn’t have anything structurally wrong with his pitching arm, he’s going to have to be shut down for a bit before ramping things back up. If you want to squint to see a silver lining, you could say that Gallen wasn’t going to be in line for a huge workload in 2021, anyway, following the abbreviated 2020 season. If the injury does turn out to be minor, he could just have a delayed start before hitting the ground running.
In his first 27 starts in the big leagues, Gallen boasts a 2.78 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 178/61 K/BB ratio over 152 innings. He set a major league record with 23 straight starts of three earned runs or fewer allowed. He’s been the 14th pitcher off the board so far in NFBC drafts.
With Gallen in line for a stint on the injured list, the D-backs will likely insert either Taylor Clarke or Taylor Widener into the rotation in his place. Neither pitcher is worth worrying about in your standard mixed league.
The closer carousel is already spinning for a couple American League clubs, and unfortunately it’s due to injuries.
Both the Blue Jays’ Kirby Yates and the Rangers’ Jose Leclerc will begin the season on the injured list due to arm maladies. Yates is dealing with a flexor pronator strain, while Leclerc is battling elbow discomfort.
The Blue Jays are still in information-gathering mode regarding Yates’ injury, but they expect the reliever to be sidelined for multiple weeks. Yates, of course, missed much of the 2020 season before eventually undergoing surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow. He looked good in his first two appearances this spring but now has experienced a significant setback.
When asked who will slide into the closer role with Yates sidelined, Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said it “could be anybody, any day.” The skipper doesn’t “see the need to have just one closer.”
That may very well be how Montoyo approaches things going into the season, but all signs point to Jordan Romano getting the first crack at the gig. He very much looked like a closer Monday, striking out the side on 15 pitches against the Tigers. Romano has given up just one run in five innings this spring, boasting a 12/1 K/BB ratio along the way.
Romano had a breakout showing during the truncated 2020 season, posting a 1.23 ERA and 21/5 K/BB ratio across 14 2/3 innings and collecting a couple saves. Just last week, pitching coach Pete Walker described Romano as “a closer in the making.” He will be shooting up cheat sheets.
The Rangers don’t have a specific diagnosis for Leclerc’s elbow injury yet, but it doesn’t sound good.
The initial tests by trainers and the level of discomfort Leclerc is dealing with had general manager Chris Young admitting that the reliever will be sidelined for an extended period of time. Leclerc is headed back to Dallas to undergo further testing.
Leclerc has been brought along slowly this spring after missing most of last season with shoulder issues. He had been feeling fine until recently.
The Rangers had already lost Jonathan Hernandez indefinitely due to a low-grade ulnar collateral ligament sprain in his elbow, and now they will be without their top two relievers for a while. Joely Rodriguez (ankle) is also on the shelf, although he shouldn’t be out long.
The injuries have thrown the Rangers’ bullpen situation into disarray. A couple non-roster invitees with closing experience in Matt Bush and Ian Kennedy might now be pushed to the front of the saves line.
Bush hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2018 and has missed the last year and a half of action due to a second Tommy John surgery. He’s looked sharp this spring, though, with six strikeouts and just two hits and one walk allowed over four scoreless innings. Bush saved 10 games for the Rangers back in 2017.
Kennedy has been unscored upon himself over four frames during Cactus League play, fanning four batters without giving up a hit. The 36-year-old had fine 2019 campaign in saving 30 games for the Royals, but he fell flat with a 9.00 ERA in 15 games last year.
Both veteran relievers are worthy of end-game fliers in fantasy leagues, but they’re low-end dart throws, nothing more.
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American League Quick Hits: Lucas Giolito went 4 2/3 scoreless innings in his Cactus League start versus the Giants on Monday … Jesus Luzardo tossed 4 1/3 scoreless innings in a Cactus League start Monday versus the Diamondbacks … Bobby Dalbec and Michael Chavis both hit their sixth homers of the spring as the Red Sox routed the Rays 10-4 on Monday … Jose Berrios blanked the Braves for 4 2/3 innings in a win Monday … The White Sox optioned Reynaldo Lopez to their alternate training site Monday … Nick Solak clubbed his fourth Cactus League home run on Monday afternoon against the Rockies … Franmil Reyes hit his fourth home run of the spring on Monday against the Brewers … Justin Wilson will undergo an MRI after leaving an appearance Monday with left shoulder tightness … Julio Teheran was lifted from Monday's Grapefruit League start against the Blue Jays as a precaution due to back tightness … Brent Honeywell gave up one run in an inning Monday against the Red Sox in his first appearance since 2017 … Adam Engel (hamstring) said Monday that he expects to miss 2-4 weeks.
National League Quick Hits: Aaron Nola yielded just one hit while whiffing nine over six scoreless innings against the Yankees on Monday … Tommy Pham slugged a pair of homers Monday against the Royals in Cactus League action … J.T. Realmuto (thumb) could make his Grapefruit League debut as soon as Tuesday … Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald has reported that Jazz Chisholm appears to have the leg up on Isan Diaz for the team's second base job … Ian Happ hit a solo homer, drew a walk, and scored two runs Monday in Cactus League action against the Angels.