It didn't look good when Roberto Osuna threw a pitch, pointed to the dugout and gestured for the trainer to come to the mound during Saturday's game against the Angels.
On Tuesday, Astros manager Dusty Baker said the same thing about Osuna's MRI.
The Astros closer reportedly was recommended to have season-ending Tommy John surgery, a source told Mark Berman, the sports director at Fox 26 KRIV-TV in Houston. Per Berman, Osuna will seek a second opinion before making a decision.
Baker, during a radio interview on 790 AM in Houston, didn't go so far as to reveal the results of the MRI but said the outlook "doesn't look real good, actually."
“He went and had an MRI yesterday," Baker said of Osuna. "He’s in our prayers and in our thoughts. The reality is it’s probably not really good news.”
If Osuna is done -- and, to repeat, that's just an unconfirmed report at this point -- it is both very easy and potentially very difficult to figure out where the Astros turn for saves in 2020.
The one that makes the most sense, almost too much sense, is Ryan Pressly, the 2019 All-Star reliever who was set to save games in Osuna's absence earlier this season. Pressly is in some ways a better version of Osuna, collecting more strikeouts while still offering elite ratios.
The problem, then, is that Pressly is dealing with his own issues, having his 2020 debut delayed due to right elbow issues and then suffering a cut on the thumb of his pitching hand in his season debut Sunday. If Pressly can't stay on the field, the picture gets a lot more cloudy -- does an upstart like Andre Scrubb or Cy Sneed get a crack at the job? Do the Astros move someone like Josh James back to relief to have him close? Do they look outside the organization, and if so, where?
For now, the move is to roster Pressly and hope his health cooperates. The next time the Astros have a save situation, pay attention to who gets the call -- and how they fare in the situation.
Cardinals Make Moves After COVID Cases
Cardinals fans and fantasy players gained some clarity Tuesday when the team revealed six positive COVID-19 cases ahead of hopefully returning to playing baseball later this week.
The club acknowledged six players -- Yadier Molina, Paul DeJong, Edmundo Sosa, Rangel Ravelo, Junior Fernandez and Kodi Whitley -- recently tested positive for the virus, with all six giving the team permission to make public their positive diagnoses. The team placed Molina, DeJong, Sosa, Fernandez and Whitley, as well as pitcher Carlos Martinez, on the 10-day injured list shortly after the announcement.
“I am saddened to have tested positive for COVID-19, even after adhering to safety guidelines that were put in place,” said Molina. “I will do everything within my power to return as soon as possible for Cardinals fans, the city of St. Louis and my teammates. As I recover, I request that you please respect my privacy and family in my absence from the team.”
The positive tests brought the Cardinals' season to a screeching halt late last week, forcing the postponement of their weekend series against the Brewers as well as a four-game set against the Tigers planned for the early part of this week. The tentative plan, according to a release from the team, is for the Cards to resume their regular schedule on Friday against the Cubs in St. Louis.
The fantasy fallout from Tuesday's news is vast. With pitchers Martinez, Fernandez and Whitley sidelined, Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak indicated Alex Reyes and Genesis Cabrera were among those who will be added to the active roster in their stead. Reyes, of course, was once widely considered the top pitching prospect in baseball but has been saddled with injuries in his brief major league career.
With more roster spots opened, the big remaining question is whether Dylan Carlson will be the latest top prospect to get the call this season. None of Tuesday's losses were outfielders, but the Cards outfield has presented few roadblocks thus far that would justify the team keeping Carlson in bubble wrap. We might have an answer as soon as Wednesday as to whether the team will bring up Carlson when play resumes Friday.
Elsewhere, recently-activated Brad Miller is likely to serve as the team's everyday shortstop with DeJong and Sosa out -- or perhaps Miller helps Matt Carpenter man third base while Tommy Edman slides over to short -- and prospect Andrew Knizner is a good bet to be promoted to back up Matt Wieters behind the plate until Molina returns.
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Marlins Show No Rust In Return
On the east coast, the first-place Marlins returned to action Tuesday.
Pablo Lopez's performance was worth the wait.
Lopez and a bullpen literally cobbled together in recent days -- Richard Bleier and James Hoyt, two of the four relievers who backed Lopez in the win, weren't even in the organization a week ago -- kept the Orioles off the scoreboard, leading the Marlins to a 4-0 win. The O's mustered just three hits and had only four baserunners all evening.
The charge was led by Lopez, who was making his season debut Tuesday. The changeup specialist had it all working, yielding just two hits while striking out seven over five innings of work.
The pitching was hit hard by the recent rash of COVID-19 cases that left 18 players positive for the virus, and 11 players -- including pitchers Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith, Jeff Brigham, Robert Dugger, Yimi Garcia, Nick Neidert, Ryne Stanek and Adam Conley -- were placed on the injured list ahead of the Orioles series. Conversely, only catcher Chad Wallach and infielders Sean Rodriguez and Miguel Rojas went on the injured list among position players.
A mostly-healthy lineup didn't light up the scoreboard against 2019 All-Star John Means, but they were able to put up four runs to help the cause. Ninth-place hitter Monte Harrison didn't get in on the fun, striking out in all three of his at-bats, but the top prospect is worth keeping in mind for his combination of power and speed.
With second baseman Isan Diaz opting out of the season over the weekend, Jon Berti got the start at second base and went 2-for-4 with an RBI single, a stolen base and a run scored while batting in the No. 2 spot in the lineup. If Berti gets everyday playing time with Diaz out he is a player who can contribute in the stolen base department for fantasy teams.
National League Quick Hits: Nationals activated OF Juan Soto from the injured list. Soto never had any symptoms after his positive COVID-19 test, so while he might need a few days to find his groove, he's likely to be one of the NL's best hitters over the rest of the season. He was not in the Nationals' starting lineup on Tuesday night against the Mets but was available off the bench. ... Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he expects Mookie Betts (finger) to be able to return on Wednesday. Betts was out of the Dodgers' starting lineup Tuesday for the second straight game after exiting Sunday's series finale against the Diamondbacks due to swelling in his left middle finger, but it's obviously not too serious of an issue. The star outfielder has an .880 OPS with two homers and one steal through 10 games played. ... Padres purchased the contract of RHP Luis Patino. Patino is expected to join the Padres' bullpen initially, though he could eventually see some action as a starter -- maybe as soon as this weekend's series against the Diamondbacks. The 20-year-old right-hander ranks among the very best pitching prospects in baseball and registered a dominant 2.57 ERA with 123 strikeouts over 94 2/3 innings last season between the High-A and Double-A levels. ... Braves manager Brian Snitker suggested late Tuesday night that Ozzie Albies (wrist) might have to be placed on the injured list. Albies injured his right wrist last week and has struggled to play through the discomfort. He went 0-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout in Tuesday's blowout win over the Blue Jays and is currently sporting a weak .159/.196/.273 batting line with one home run and zero stolen bases through 11 games this season. ... Mike Moustakas made an early exit from Tuesday's game against the Indians due to a bruised left quad. Moustakas was 0-for-2 with two strikeouts before getting replaced at second base by Kyle Farmer before the top of the sixth inning. There should be further clarity on the injury soon. ... Jeff McNeil has been diagnosed with a "low grade" right intercostal strain. McNeil will avoid the 10-day injured list for now, but he was not in the Mets' starting lineup on Tuesday night against the Nationals and could remain sidelined for much of this week. ... Craig Kimbrel was pulled out of a save opportunity in a three-run game Tuesday after giving up a single and a double in the ninth. Why go to him if two hits in a three-run game is enough to get him yanked? Kimbrel got a strikeout in between the hits. He still can't get anyone to swing at his curve, but at least he did get three called strikes among the six he threw tonight. If he kept that up, he likely would have closed it out against the bottom of Kansas City's lineup tonight, though perhaps not without some damage. As it was, Kyle Ryan replaced him and allowed both baserunners to score before getting Bubba Starling to ground out to end it. Kimbrel really should have at least a couple of positive outings before getting his next chance to close, but that was also true as of yesterday. Rowan Wick and Jeremy Jeffress are still candidates for saves, with Wick the most likely to take over the role for David Ross' club. ... Mets placed 2B Robinson Cano on the 10-day injured list with a Grade 2 left adductor strain. Cano suffered the injury on Monday night against the Braves, after going 2-for-2 with three RBI and a walk before his departure. The veteran second baseman will now be sidelined for an extended period -- likely into September. Brian Dozier is filling in at second base on Tuesday night against the Nationals. ... German Marquez hurled 7 1/3 innings of two-run baseball with nine strikeouts to help the Rockies to a 5-2 victory over the Giants on Tuesday. Another impressive start for Marquez. The right-hander allowed just a two-run double to Steven Duggar -- a play that was originally ruled a game-tying three-run homer that was reversed to a ground-rule double -- and he struck out nine. He’s allowed just four runs in his three starts so far and he struck out 23 hitters over his 19 innings against five walks. You wish he pitched in a better ballpark, but Marquez is one of the few pitchers who has a chance to succeed despite Coors Field. The 25-year-old has a very friendly matchup on Sunday against the Mariners. ... Amed Rosario (quad) was not in the Mets' starting lineup Tuesday night against the Nationals. Rosario made an early exit from Monday night's game against the Braves after experiencing tightness in his left quad, and he is considered day-to-day for now. Andres Gimenez filled in at shortstop.
American League Quick Hits: Rays activated OF Austin Meadows from the 10-day injured list. Meadows missed most of the Rays' summer camp following a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, but he's been getting back into the swing of things at the team's alternate training site in recent days. You wouldn't know he'd missed the first few weeks of the season based on his 2-for-4 line with an RBI triple and a run scored in Tuesday's win over the Red Sox. The 25-year-old batted .291/.364/.558 batting line, 33 home runs, 89 RBI, 12 stolen bases, and 83 runs scored over 138 games in 2019. ... Angels activated OF Mike Trout from the restricted list. Trout is back in action with the Angels on Tuesday night in Seattle after welcoming a new son that he and his wife Jessica named Beckham Aaron Trout. The 28-year-old superstar wasted little time showing off his Dad Strength, socking a first-inning solo homer off Mariners starter Justin Dunn. ... Angels purchased the contract of OF Jo Adell. Adell started in right field and batted seventh in his major league debut Tuesday night in Seattle, legging out an infield single in the first inning for his first MLB hit. Angels manager Joe Maddon confirmed on Tuesday evening that the 21-year-old top prospect will serve as the team's everyday right fielder moving forward, with Brian Goodwin and Justin Upton platooning in left field ... Nick Madrigal has been diagnosed with a left shoulder injury. Madrigal was holding his left wrist and forearm following an awkward slide into third base in the second inning Tuesday night against the Brewers, but word from the White Sox is that he actually banged up his shoulder. The 23-year-old top infield prospect will be reevaluated by the team's medical staff on Wednesday. ... Michael Brantley was out of the Astros' lineup Tuesday because of a quad injury. And manager Dusty Baker said he might hold Brantley out Wednesday as well. Kyle Tucker, George Springer, and Josh Reddick are starting across the outfield for Houston on Tuesday night against the Diamondbacks and left-hander Madison Bumgarner. Abraham Toro is taking a turn in the designated hitter role. ... Edwin Encarnacion departed Tuesday night's game against the Brewers due to left shoulder soreness. Encarnacion was 1-for-2 with a single and a strikeout before getting replaced by Zack Collins in the DH spot in the top of the sixth inning. The veteran slugger will be reevaluated on Wednesday. ... Brad Hand was given the ninth inning on Tuesday and protected a two-run lead with a perfect frame against the Reds. James Karinchak got one out in the eighth to set him up. Hand's velocity was up some tonight -- he averaged 92.4 mph with his fastball and topped out at 93.1 mph -- so that's a very good sign after he averaged 92.7 mph last year. We still wouldn't have trusted him with another late lead so quickly if we were the Indians, but since he converted the save chance without incident, he'll probably get the next one, too. ... Nick Anderson's first save of the year saw him get two outs in a four-run game Tuesday against the Red Sox. Anderson came in after Ryan Thompson allowed three straight singles with one out in a 5-1 game in the ninth and retired Jose Peraza and Andrew Benintendi on called third strikes. This doesn't make him the Rays' closer necessarily, but those who drafted him will gladly take the save. ... White Sox placed LHP Carlos Rodon on the 10-day injured list with left shoulder soreness. More injury issues for Rodon, who was coming back from Tommy John surgery this year and previously required shoulder surgery in September of 2017. The southpaw saw a steep velocity drop during his start against the Brewers on Monday and the White Sox don't want to take any chances. It's unclear if he's being sent for tests.