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Baseball Daily Dose

Sixto Silences Braves' Bats

by Nathan Grimm
Updated On: September 11, 2020, 11:58 am ET

It's Sixto Sanchez's world and we're all just living in it.

Some of us more comfortably than others.

Sanchez continued his world domination tour Tuesday, firing six scoreless innings in a shutout win over the Braves. The young right-hander allowed just three hits, all singles, and walked one while striking out six over his six innings of work.

“I’m focused,” Sanchez told the Miami Herald through a translator. “Being out there on the mound, you’ve got to be focused and make sure your head is 100 percent and your body is 100 percent ... That’s what I’ve been doing.”

He did it with a four-pitch mix that kept hitters off balance all night, throwing each of his four-seam fastball, slider, sinker and changeup at least 16 percent of the time. The four-seamer led the way, accounting for 36 percent of his pitches thrown, and on this night he leaned on his slider as a secondary offering while his sinker and changeup took a backseat. The slider induced nine called strikes plus whiffs, or CSW, an impressive 39 percent of the 23 he threw on the night.

All three of the four-seamer, slider and changeup induced whiffs at an at least 30 percent clip, while the sinker got the job done on balls in play. A bowling ball that still averaged 96.8 mph, the sinker had a 67.5 mph exit velocity on the four put in play.

It's that devastating arsenal that provides legitimacy to the early returns. Through four starts, the 22-year-old has a 1.80 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 25/2 K/BB ratio while facing off against representative offenses in the Nationals, Rays, Blue Jays and Braves.

This is just the beginning, too. Be afraid, NL East. Be very afraid.

Fried the Latest Hit to Braves Rotation

The already-ailing Braves rotation lost its ace Tuesday, the latest blow for a staff in desperate need of reinforcements.

The club placed Max Fried on the 10-day injured list Tuesday, retroactive to Sunday, with a left-side muscle spasm in his lumbar spine. The team has expressed hope that the stay on the injured list will be minimal, though it's too early to know for sure at this point.

“We’re extremely confident this will be a short stint,” Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos said. “He’d tell you the same thing.”

The losses have been deep and numerous -- the rotation entering the season consisted of Fried, Mike Soroka, Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb and Kyle Wright, not to mention the injured Cole Hamels and opted-out Felix Hernandez -- and have left the team with a makeshift rotation of top prospect Ian Anderson and some reclamation projects. With Fried now out, Anderson headlines a staff that includes Tommy Milone, Josh Tomlin, Robbie Erlin and the aforementioned Wright, who took the loss Tuesday against the Marlins.

Losing Fried, even if only for a start, is a big blow for the NL East leaders. In nine starts this year, the 26-year-old has a 1.98 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 47/17 K/BB ratio over 50 innings of work.

“Obviously we want Max out there for all of his outings,” Anthopoulos said. “But it’s also about being smart and making sure we have this addressed as we move forward.”

Help may be on the way in the form of Hamels, who in spring was expected to be a rotation staple but who's been out all season due to shoulder and triceps injuries. The 36-year-old will throw live batting practice on Thursday and could be activated as early as next week.

Nothing will take the place of Fried's expedient return, though. Here's to hoping one of the league's best pitchers this year gets to enjoy a healthy end to his stellar few months.

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Kelly to Undergo Thoracic Outlet Surgery

A promising start to the season for Merrill Kelly will have a less-hopeful ending.

Kelly, who had an excellent 2.59 ERA in his first five starts of the season, is set to undergo surgery Wednesday to relieve symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome. The surgery will end his 2020 season but isn't expected to cut into his readiness for 2021.

In theory, at least. The list of thoracic outlet surgery recipients is short, and the list of successful recoveries is shorter. Jaime Garcia had the surgery in 2015 and threw 410 2/3 more innings in the majors, albeit with a 4.80 ERA; Tyson Ross underwent the procedure in 2017 and had a 4.15 ERA in 149 2/3 innings the following year. Arguably the most hopeful case is that of Tyler Thornburg, who had the surgery in March 2018 and pitched later that season, and who is pitching effectively as a member of the Reds bullpen this year.

Still, Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen said Kelly should resume throwing roughly two months after Wednesday's procedure, a timetable that would have him more or less ready to go by the time spring training rolls around in February. The club has a $4.25 million option on the 31-year-old for 2021.

“We haven’t had any formal discussions on options for next year yet,” Hazen told the Arizona Republic, “but I wouldn’t see how this would have a major impact on that decision right now.”

Given his limited success to start this season, it'll be worth watching how Kelly fares in spring -- both in terms of health and effectiveness -- ahead of draft season.

National League Quick Hits: The Mets are flipping Jacob deGrom and Seth Lugo in their rotation this weekend against the Blue Jays. The Mets are going ahead with the idea of starting deGrom every fifth day, so he'll make the start on Friday while Lugo goes Saturday. The Mets should be able to squeeze another start out of their ace down the stretch ... according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune, the Padres believe Eric Hosmer (finger) will be able to return before the end of the regular season. Hosmer suffered a fractured left index finger while trying to lay down a bunt with two strikes on Monday night against the Rockies, but Acee writes that "the location of the injury actually is fortunate in that the index finger does not play a primary role in swinging a bat." That's great news, as Hosmer has delivered an impressive .288/.344/.542 batting line with eight home runs and 32 RBI in 31 games this season for San Diego. Mitch Moreland will probably do most of the filling in at first base until Hosmer is recovered ... Juan Soto singled, drove in a run and was intentionally walked twice as the Nationals defeated the Rays 5-3 on Tuesday. Soto hadn't played in five days because of a sore elbow, but that didn't stop the Rays from being very careful with him tonight. The intentional walks worked out for the Rays on both occasions, as Kurt Suzuki made inning-ending outs behind Soto in both the fourth and sixth innings. Though it didn't stop the Nationals from winning tonight, manager Dave Martinez should still scrap his new idea of having Soto hit fourth ahead of Suzuki ... Cardinals optioned OF Dylan Carlson to their alternate training site. Carlson has lost some playing time of late and has struggled to the tune of a .162/.215/.243 batting line through 79 plate appearances during his first stint in the majors, but this move still comes as a surprise. Still, big picture, it's a small sample in a very strange year. He's still an important part of the Cardinals' future ... Alec Bohm hit a walk-off two-run single and drove in four runs to give the Phillies a 6-5 win over the Red Sox on Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader. Bohm had been in a mini-slump as of late, but broke out of it with the big game on Tuesday. The impressive rookie drove in two runs on a single in the third, but the big blow came in the bottom of the seventh -- the last inning since it was the first game of the doubleheader -- with a two-out, two-run single that gave Philadelphia the walk-off win. The three hits on Tuesday now have Bohm hitting .298 with an OPS of .782 with 15 RBI over 80 games. He's a solid player now, but Bohm has a chance to be a star in the coming years ... Wil Myers went 3-for-5 with two home runs and a season-high five RBI on Tuesday to power the Padres to a 14-5 blowout victory over the Rockies. Myers kicked off the Padres’ offensive explosion with a grand slam off Rockies reliever Jose Mujica in the opening frame and also belted a solo shot in the seventh inning to record the eighth multi-homer effort of his career. The 29-year-old outfielder owns a .297/.366/.607 triple-slash line with 26 runs scored, 11 home runs, 30 RBI and one stolen base across 161 plate appearances. The surging Padres have won seven of their last 10 games and are within striking distance of the division-leading Dodgers for the best record in the National League this season ... Carlos Martinez surrendered four earned runs over just 3 2/3 innings Tuesday in a loss to the Twins. Martinez pitched a little better than his line would suggest, but he did yield seven hits, including a three-run homer to Josh Donaldson in the top of the third. It was his first start back from a battle with COVID-19. Look for him to go deeper -- or at least attempt to -- next time out against the division-rival Reds.

American League Quick Hits: Royals placed OF/DH Jorge Soler on the 10-day injured list with a right oblique strain. Soler has been bothered by the issue over the past week and it caused him to exit Saturday's game. Now the Royals will give him some extra rest. Oblique injuries are notoriously tricky, so it's too soon to say when he'll be ready to return ... Bo Bichette (knee) saw five at-bats during a simulated game on Monday at the Blue Jays' alternate training site in Rochester. Bichette served as the designated hitter on Monday, but he's slated to play shortstop in another simulated game on Tuesday. If all goes well, a return this weekend is possible. Bichette has been sidelined since mid-August with a Grade 1 sprain of the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee ... Jose Ramirez was diagnosed with a bruise on his left hand following an MRI. Good news. Ramirez was forced out of Monday's game due to what was described as left thumb discomfort, but fortunately the injury isn't expected to require a lengthy absence. The Indians are calling him day-to-day for now ... Astros manager Dusty Baker said Jose Altuve (knee) looked good while running on Tuesday. Baker pointed out that Altuve looked good running straight ahead, but still has work to do in regard to his lateral movement around the bases. Still, it was a positive step for him as he makes his way back from a right knee sprain. He previously had surgery on the very same knee, so the Astros are going to take it easy with him ... Matt Chapman (hip) expects to begin baseball activity on Wednesday. Chapman left Sunday's series finale against the Padres with tendinitis in his right hip, an issue which has been bothering him all season. He's feeling better after getting some rest, but ramping up baseball activity will be the true test. If all goes well, he could return this weekend ... Lance McCullers underwent a mild anti-inflammatory injection to alleviate nerve irritation in his neck, per Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. There was some panic when Astros manager Dusty Baker told reporters on Tuesday that McCullers "had some procedure done," but it turns out it was just a shot to aid the healing process. There is currently no timetable for the right-hander's return to the active roster, but he hasn't yet been ruled out for the rest of the season. McCullers was placed on the injured list September 8 due to neck nerve irritation ... Marcus Semien (side) returned to the Athletics' lineup for Game 1 of their doubleheader against the Astros on Tuesday. Semien hasn't played since August 29 due to a side injury, but he managed to avoid a trip to the injured list ... Astros activated INF Alex Bregman from the 10-day injured list. Bregman had been sidelined since August 20 with a right hamstring strain. He's technically serving as the 29th man in the doubleheader ... Ken Giles (forearm) threw live batting practice on Tuesday. Assuming Giles comes out of it feeling good, he could be on track for a return this weekend. The Jays' closer has been out since late July with a strained right forearm, but he's capable of providing a nice boost for the stretch run ... Rowdy Tellez is scheduled to undergo an MRI on his right knee on Wednesday. Tellez made an early exit from Tuesday night's win over the Yankees after feeling something in his right knee when he stopped on a soft spot of ground near the bullpen area at Sahlen Field in Buffalo. This could be a big loss for the Blue Jays, as Tellez has produced a .283/.346/.540 batting line with eight home runs and 23 RBI in 35 games this season. Look for an official diagnosis at some point Wednesday afternoon ... Rafael Devers homered twice and drove in three runs in the first game of a doubleheader against the Phillies on Tuesday. Devers absolutely obliterated his first homer; as it was estimated to go over 116 mph in exit velocity. He hit another rocket in the fifth out of the park, with this one going out the opposite way, and both coming off of Zach Eflin. Devers would also double in the go-ahead run, but the Red Sox weren't able to hold the lead. The 23-year-old has been swinging a very hot stick as of late, and has his slash up to .264/.320/.516 with nine homers and 28 RBI over 40 games played ... Rays activated LHP Ryan Yarbrough from the 10-day injured list. Yarbrough rejoined the Rays' rotation on Tuesday against the Nationals after missing the minimum 10 days with a groin injury, but it wasn't a warm welcome -- he was chased after just 2 2/3 innings, having allowed four runs on six hits ... Red Sox transferred OF Andrew Benintendi from the 10-day injured list to the 45-day injured list. Benintendi would technically be eligible to return for the last week of the season, but Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said Tuesday that they are shutting him down for the year. This completes a lost season for the 26-year-old. Coming off an underwhelming 2019, Benintendi batted just .103/.314/.128 with zero homers through 52 plate appearances before suffering a right ribcage strain. He'll enter 2021 with something to prove.