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Week That Was

Week That Was: Papelbon Down

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

Jonathan Papelbon has done a lot of things in his 12-year career. He's won a World Series. He's racked up 365 saves. He's gotten into a physical altercation with his MVP teammate in the dugout.

One thing he had not done, up until this week, is land on the disabled list. The right-hander has been remarkably durable, appearing in 59 or more games every year since his first full season in 2006. But an intercostal strain will put him out of action for the next two weeks at least.

Nationals manager Dusty Baker announced on Thursday that Shawn Kelley will serve as his designated closer during Papelbon's absence. With his 2.45 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and 12.3 K/9 rate, Kelley should be more than up to the task. He already notched two saves this week, including a five-out job on Monday.

At the time of this column's publishing, Kelley is owned in only 41 percent of Yahoo leagues. He needs to be owned everywhere, particularly since core injuries like the one Papelbon is dealing with tend to keep pitchers out beyond the minimum DL window.

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* J.D. Martinez crashed into an outfield wall on Thursday and suffered an elbow fracture that will keep him out for four to six weeks. The veteran slugger was on pace for 29 homers, 46 doubles and 94 RBI, but now he will fall well short of those totals.

The Tigers called up 24-year-old Steven Moya, who figures to be their regular right fielder for the next month-plus. Obviously, Moya will be hard-pressed to approach Martinez's prodigious output, but he's got some pop that could play if he makes enough contact. Moya has cut his K-rate at Triple-A down to 21 percent this year from 30 percent last year, but MLB pitchers may take advantage of his lack of patience.  

* The Royals announced on Wednesday that they designated infielder Omar Infante for assignment, unsurprising given that he had not started a game in almost two weeks. The 34-year-old infielder has been an ineffective hitter throughout his tenure in Kansas City, and when the defensive miscues began to add up this season, it spelled the end.

Whit Merrifield had already been playing regularly for the Royals but now he is further entrenched. He certainly isn't going to keep hitting .327 forever but his speed and his consistent placement at the top of the KC lineup make him a solid deep-league target.

* Yu Darvish pitched well in three starts for the Rangers after returning from Tommy John rehab in late May, but now he's back on the shelf. Tightness in the shoulder and neck forced Darvish to the DL this week. The good news is that an MRI revealed no significant damage.

Technically, since his stint was backdated to June 9th, Darvish is eligible to return midway through next week, but that seems unlikely. Texas will wisely take every precaution with the 29-year-old stud hurler. Stay tuned to Rotoworld's news feed for updates as they develop.

* The Rangers should get by OK without Darvish as long as Colby Lewis continues to do his thing. On Thursday, the righty flirted with a no-no in Oakland, taking his hitless gem into the ninth before settling for a complete game victory. It comes on the heels of a fantastic outing against the Mariners in which Lewis fired eight innings of three-hit, one-run ball.

As has been typical for him, Lewis excelled in both games while allowing a ton of contact, totaling just seven total strikeouts across 17 innings. He has pitched to a 5-0 record and 2.81 ERA this season despite averaging just 5.6 K/9, and that just doesn't seem sustainable given his fly ball tendencies. Lewis is bound to come back to Earth along with his .234 BABIP, so this is a good time to sell high if you can.

* One guy who shows no signs of slowing down is Michael Fulmer, the world-beating rookie who has been a godsend for the Tigers rotation. Fulmer had a 33-inning scoreless streak snapped on Friday night when Salvador Perez took him deep for a solo shot in Kansas City. Even though that was the only run he allowed in 5 2/3 innings, Fulmer took the loss after picking up wins in each of his previous five starts. He looks pretty special.

* A frustrating season filled with setbacks for Twins closer Glen Perkins is now finished. The left-hander was diagnosed with a torn labrum in his shoulder this week and is expected to undergo surgery.

Perkins was never the same after the All-Star break last year, putting up a 7.32 ERA following an impeccable first half in which he converted every save chance. He was bothered by shoulder issues down the stretch, and the severity of those issues was confirmed when he went on the disabled list one week into this 2016 campaign after resting all winter. This news felt all but inevitable.

Shoulder surgeries are very tough to come back from, especially for a 33-year-old. In all likelihood, Perk's days as an impact closer are done. The Twins must now turn their attention to identifying a successor. Michael Tonkin, who owns a 3.09 ERA and 41-to-12 K/BB in 35 innings, could be next in line.

* To make room for returning utility man Danny Santana, the Twins designated outfielder Oswaldo Arcia for assignment. He wasn't playing much in Minnesota's outfield and was whiffing constantly when he did. However, Arcia has plenty of power (he hit 34 homers in 200 games between 2013 and 2014) and is still only 25. He'll be intriguing if he lands in a good situation.

* Some exciting news out of Cuba: infielder Yulieski Gurriel has been declared eligible for free agency, so MLB teams can now line up to bid for his services. The star infielder has big power and is capable of making an immediate impact in the majors. He figures to sign somewhere before the end of July and is worth a prospective stash.

* The Reds are calling up pitching prospect Cody Reed, who was been excellent at Triple-A after cruising through Single-A and Double-A last year. He will make his big-league debut on Saturday night against the strikeout-prone Astros. The prize of last year's Johnny Cueto trade, Reed deserves a look for pitching-needy owners.

* The Blue Jays placed Jose Bautista on the disabled list with a strain of his left big toe. He will undergo further testing so his return date is unknown at this point. Ezequiel Carrera, who figures to get a big playing time boost during Bautista's absence, has big speed. He stole 43 bases at Triple-A in both 2013 and 2014.

* Looking to bolster their offensive output at catcher, the Cubs called up Willson Contreras. The 24-year-old had a .350 average and 1030 OPS in Triple-A. Unfortunately, as one of three backstops on the Chicago roster, it's difficult to see him playing enough initially to justify a pickup even if he hits. That could change, though.

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.