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Week That Was

Week That Was: Cody's Opening

by Nick Nelson
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Andrew Toles has gained a reputation in Los Angeles for going all-out on the field. He was doing just that on Tuesday night against the Pirates, and unfortunately it proved to be his undoing. The 24-year-old outfielder was chasing a deep drive off the bat of Andrew McCutchen in left field when he crashed into the wall and then limped into the clubhouse. A scan later revealed a torn ACL, bringing a likely end to his sophomore season in the majors.


It's terrible news for Toles and certainly erodes the Dodgers' depth, but the injury firmly solidifies Cody Bellinger's spot in the lineup and that's excellent news for his fantasy owners. It was unclear what Bellinger's fate was going to be when various players returned from the disabled list and squeezed him on the roster, but now left field is essentially wide open going forward.


The rookie phenom figures to hold down that spot and he'll look to keep impressing with his scorching bat. Through 16 MLB games the 21-year-old is raking to the tune of .323/.391/.726, exhibiting a surprisingly advanced approach at the plate and a beautiful power stroke that has already produced seven homers.


He probably won't maintain a four-digit OPS but there's no reason Bellinger can't sustain as a highly productive contributor in the middle of the Dodger order throughout the summer.


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* On Wednesday, Mets closer Jeurys Familia blew a save in an oddly poor outing, allowing three earned runs on two hits and two walks while recording only a single out. The following day, he was diagnosed with an arterial clot in his right shoulder. He flew to St. Louis, where he underwent surgery that's expected to keep him out "several months" and very possibly for the rest of the season.


For as long as he is sidelined, Addison Reed will take the ninth-inning reins. The righty filled in for a spell while Familia served a season-opening suspension and converted all four of his save chances. Reed is sporting a tremendous 22-to-0 K/BB ratio in 18 innings up to this point and was sensational as a setup guy last year. He could well prove superior to peak Familia in the role, making him an obvious must-own in any league.


* Beyond Familia, it was a busy week of fluctuating closer situations across the league. Drew Silva covered much of the fallout in Wednesday's Daily Dose, but here's the quick rundown of everything you need to know:


In Detroit, active MLB saves leader Francisco Rodriguez is officially out, and given how bad he's looked he doesn't seem likely to get the ninth-inning role back. Justin Wilson, who has been lights-out as a setup man (1.23 ERA, 0.54 WHIP, 14.1 K/9) will get the first shot as K-Rod's replacement and should be able to lock it up if he keeps pitching as he has.


Control has been an issue this season for Neftali Feliz, who sports a 1-to-5 K/BB ratio in six May appearances. He took his fourth loss in ugly fashion on Thursday and manager Craig Counsell later indicated that Corey Knebel will step into the closer role for the time being. He's not quite as good a bet to stick as Wilson is in Detroit, as he lacks the reliably sharp control you'd ideally like in a hurler protecting thin leads at the ends of games. But Knebel brings serious heat and has piled up 136 strikeouts in 110 career MLB innings. There's some enticing yet risky upside here.


Meanwhile, Mark Melancon hit the DL in San Francisco due to a forearm strain. Derek Law is first in line for chances during his absence (which may conclude before next weekend), though he struggled on the way to closing out Wednesday's game, nearly blowing a three-run lead. Hunter Strickland and Steven Okert are also in the mix.


And finally, Zach Britton was diagnosed with a more significant strain in his forearm after visiting a specialist. The good news is that his UCL is intact and he'll avoid surgery. The bad news is that he's facing a lengthy rest and rehab period, with the expectation he won't return until after the All-Star break. That means that interim Baltimore closer Brad Brach, who has converted eight of 10 saves, will likely be keeping the title for a long while.


* David Price remains on track to return to Boston's rotation before the end of the month. The lefty got through a four-inning sim game on Tuesday with no issues and is now set to start a rehab assignment on Sunday. He'll move up to 70 pitches in a start for Class-AAA Pawtucket, and may need only one additional turn to be deemed ready. As long as all goes smoothly, a season debut around the 24th looks realistic.


* During a five-start audition in the A's rotation late last year, Jharel Cotton was awfully impressive. He registered a 2.15 ERA and 0.82 WHIP while showing fantastic control, helping enable Oakland to win four of his five tilts.


The good first impression paved the way for Cotton to earn a rotation spot out of spring training this year, but things didn't go nearly as well over his first seven turns, and on Thursday he was optioned to Triple-A following an ugly loss to the Angels. The tools are still certainly there for the righty to be an effective big-league starter, but for now he'll work on getting things straightened out in the minors.


Replacing him in Oakland is southpaw Sean Manaea, who looked good in a rehab start on Tuesday and is expected to get the ball on Monday. He has the pitches to miss plenty of bats and should be on mixed league radars, with a 56 percent ownership rate in Yahoo leagues.

 

* Over the first month and change here in 2017, Dallas Keuchel has done just about everything possible to prove that last year's step backward was merely a hiccup. His work over the first leg of this campaign has made 2015's Cy Young performance look shabby by comparison.


His first start of May was Keuchel's worst of the season, but he bounced back in a big way Thursday with a nine-strikeout gem against the Yankees, his sixth victory. Right now, he's as good as he's ever been.


Meanwhile, Ervin Santana delivered seven shutout innings against Cleveland on Friday to keep pace with Keuchel in the W column and lower his ERA to 1.50. Those two have been on another level.


* Santana's Twins, who suddenly find themselves competitive following last year's debacle, could really use a young spark in their rotation. They've done their part in nurturing Jose Berrios along, giving him ample time to work out the kinks in Triple-A following a brutal rookie campaign. Now, the ball is in his court – or, more accurately, in his grip – when he toes the rubber Saturday for his 2017 MLB debut.


The Twins promoted the 22-year-old righty, who went 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA in six starts with Rochester, to fill their open rotation vacancy. He'll face a tough assignment in Cleveland. He couldn't have really done much more in the minors to earn another shot, so we'll see if he can take advantage this time around. Berrios has the stuff, if he trusts it and throws it over the plate, to be a solid big-league pitcher, though he may never be especially efficient.


* An MRI on the ailing shoulder on Hisashi Iwakuma did not find structural damage, but still the right-hander is slated to miss 4-to-6 weeks due to inflammation. Christian Bergman started in Iwakuma's place on Friday, allowing three runs over five innings, and should get more chances going forward. He's nothing special but is worth a look in deep leagues.


* At long last, the Tigers activated J.D. Martinez after he spent the first six weeks recovering from a spring foot injury. He went 1-for-3 with a single on Friday night and looks to be good to go.


* Pirates right-hander Jameson Taillon underwent surgery early in the week for suspected testicular cancer, days after he hit the DL with reported groin discomfort. It's terrible to hear but hopefully the operation will get everything squared away for the talented young hurler. He's out indefinitely with Trevor Williams holding down his rotation spot.


* As expected, Shelby Miller underwent Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ligament in his elbow. He probably won't return until midway through the 2018 campaign.

Nick Nelson

Nick Nelson is a frequent contributor to NBC Sports Edge's baseball coverage and regularly blogs about the Minnesota Twins at Twins Daily. Follow him on Twitter @NickNelsonMN.