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MLB Contenders: Pitching Updates

Most MLB contenders will need pitching help for the stretch run. That is why we see so many deals involving pitchers and less involving hitters. It is a more volatile group and more arms is always better for contending teams. Let’s take a look some updates for the contenders’ pitching staffs.

Washington Nationals

The Nationals should be getting Max Scherzer back this week. He is slated to pitch on Thursday against the Pirates. The Nats have been playing great baseball and not only have their biggest lead of the season in the NL Wild card race, but have narrowed the gap between them and the Braves to just 5 games in the NL East. Getting Scherzer back, who is arguably still the best starter in all of MLB, will be a massive boost to this team as they continue to fight for playoff positioning. 

The Nats also placed closer Sean Doolittle on the IL this week. Doolittle is suffering from right knee tendinitis. The injury could explain why he is underperforming recently. In his most recent outing against the Brewers, he blew a 3 run lead in the 9th, allowing 4 runs on three 9th inning homers. The Nats did upgrade their bullpen on deadline day by acquiring Daniel Hudson from Toronto. They also added Hunter Strickland along with Roenis Elias from the Mariners. That should help soften the blow. 

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays called up Trevor Richards to the big leagues to pitch in Sunday’s game against the Tigers. Richards racked up 6 strikeouts in his outing, however, he only lasted 3.1 innings allowing 8 hits and 2 ER. The Rays acquired Richards along with Nick Anderson on the day of the trade deadline. With Blake Snell, Yonny Chorinos, and Tyler Glasnow out potentially for the remainder of the season, the Rays need better efforts from Richards moving forward.

Ryan Yarborough has been excellent for them since they stretched him out in early July. He has allowed just 8 ER in 45 innings since becoming a starter. Charlie Morton is pitching at a high level this year for the Rays. However, rookie LHP Brendan McKay has been hit hard in his most recent outings. If Tampa wants to remain in the playoff hunt, they will need Richards and McKay specifically to perform at a higher level. 

Cleveland Indians

Indians starter Carlos Carrasco has been cleared to begin a rehab assignment. He hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since he was diagnosed with Leukemia back in late May. His cancer is under control and he pitched in a rehab game on Monday for Double-A Akron.  He pitched one inning in the appearance. Carrasco will possibly make one other single inning appearance before re-joining the Indians.

If you are wondering why a guy like Carasco is pitching just 1 inning in his rehab, it is because the Indians will be using him as a reliever for the remainder of the season and into the playoffs should the Indians get there.  He did pitch in relief back in 2014, and he should be able to help the Indians bullpen down the stretch. Carrasco will look to rejoin the rotation for the 2020 season.

In other news regarding the Indians pitchers, former Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber was removed from his rehab start Sunday with abdominal tightness. Kluber is undergoing tests to determine more information. He faces a lengthy shut down if anything serious is detected. This puts his return this season into question. According to some rumors, Kluber might be shut down for 2 weeks. The Indians and Kluber would take that as a win. He would still be on track to join the team in early to mid-September.

Kluber was expected to return to the Indians rotation this weekend against the Royals, which will not happen now. It is worth noting that the abdominal tightness is a separate injury from the forearm fracture that Kluber suffered in early May. There have been no setbacks with regards to that serious injury. He is a huge part of the Indians rotation. The team will need him down the stretch so they will approach this situation with extreme caution. 

Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodgers lefty Julio Urias will serve a 20 game suspension for his arrest back in mid-May. Urias found himself arrested for reportedly shoving a woman to the ground. The incident ended up being record on video. Following the arrest, MLB placed Urias on administrative leave. MLB continued their investigation while Urias continued pitching after 5 games. The further investigation is what ultimately led to this 20 game suspension, and he will not appeal. 

He will be eligible for the postseason, which is big news for the Dodgers. The team doesn’t really need him down the stretch with such a large lead in the NL West. However, the Dodgers will want the versatile lefty come playoff time. He has mostly been a reliever this year for LA, posting a 2.53 ERA with a 8.91 K/9 in 67.2 IP. Having a pitcher of this caliber on the playoff roster will be crucial for the Dodgers as they look to get back to the World Series for a 3rd straight year. Urias generally pitches multiple innings out of the bullpen but can do shorter stints or used as a lefty specialist.

Author Twitter: @LandersTalks

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