Pedro Figueroa is Just the Latest on a Long List of Pitchers to need Tommy John Surgery

The Texas Rangers’ website has reported that relief pitcher Pedro Figueroa had a torn ulnar collateral ligament and flexor tendon. He will be undergoing Tommy John surgery next week. The Rangers are already a team with a lot of injuries, mostly pitchers, and from this week alone you can add OF Shin-Soo Choo (ankle), the Rangers’ hottest hitter INF Kevin Kouzmanoff (back) and pitcher Neftali Feliz (general fatigue). Thankfully for the Rangers Choo and Kouzmanoff may not need to take time on the disabled list and both are going to be examined by team doctors. Feliz was placed on the minor league disabled list and will probably be back throwing by next week.

The big blow, howeverm, is the season-ending injury to Figueroa who will need to be replaced quickly, unless of course Darvish can pitch complete games every day. Tanner Scheppers would be a good replacement but he had to step up as a starter and is now on the disabled list. Neftali Feliz would have been another option but for at least the next week he’s out on the disabled list. The Rangers are undoubtedly the most injured team in baseball right now.

Figueroa, who started off this season giving up 10 hits and four earned runs in 10 appearances, was doing well with a 4.00 ERA and who was a valuable asset to the Rangers’ bullpen is just the  latest in a long, long, long line of pitchers this season to have to undergo the Tommy John surgery. He will also not be the first of those pitchers to be having the surgery for the second time. It really is becoming an epidemic and one can’t help but wonder if some of these pitchers are not recognizing when they are fatigued and when the pain means to stop. Pitchers by nature are competitors and it is no wonder why they don’t say that they are hurting until it is too late.

figueroa

Getty Images

The Chicago White Sox have Chris Sale under watch. Watching his pitch counts, innings and changes in velcoity, they were able to determine that he wasn’t doing well and as soon as Sale mentioned discomfort they had him on the 15-day disabled list. More teams should be this proactive. The A’s treat pitcher, former Rookie of the Year and two-time All-Star, Scott Kazmir who was plagued by injuries and out of baseball completely for the 2011 and 2012 seasons, only to resurfaced as a force in Cleveland around the middle of the 2013 season. The A’s monitor him closely to prevent injury. They were not so lucky as to think of doing so with Jarrod Parke,r who is one on the list of pitchers to have Tommy John surgery this season, or A.J. Griffin who reportedly had a set back while rehabbing from flexor tendinitis this week meaning it will take even longer than expected for him to return to the A’s rotation. It’s just interesting the tiny little change made when the team knows a guy has a long history of injuries and the players who do not (Parker did undergo his second Tommy John surgery but the pitcher had been virtually injury free since the first procedure).

Of course these are just observations on a small sample size, but I can’t help but wonder if we looked in more depth around the league if we might find out that this epidemic is being caused by innate competitiveness and extreme overuse. Regardless of the cause of the Tommy John surgery “epidemic,” it needs to be figured out soon while there are still some healthy pitchers left.

For more MLB news and analysis follow OPSN’s  Jen Rainwater @OakAsSocksGrl on Twitter.

VIDEO: Desmond Jennings makes incredible catch

Desmond Jennings made an incredible catch in the top of the 9th inning to rob a hit.

Follow Emily Gruver on Twitter for more MLB updates

Fantasy Baseball: Three Trades You Should Make Right Now

Trade Madison Bumgarner for Masahiro Tanaka

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

I admit it. I was wrong. Tanaka is a full-blown, bonafide ace in this league and should be a fantasy ace as well. Coming into the season, it’s doubtful you would have moved the 24-year-old left hander and his 3.09 career ERA for the unproven Japanese product, but you should now.

Here’s why: Bumgarner is giving up an uncanny amount of hits this season (11.9 H/9 so far), which is unusual for the former 1st round pick considering his career number is 8.2 H/9 and he posted an elite 6.5 just last season. But things change. Tanaka has proven that he has no problem taking apart major league lineups.

To comprehend just how good Tanaka has been, his swing-and-miss rate is 16.1 percent (49 out of 305 pitches, according to fangraphs.com) through four starts. Consider that Texas’ Yu Darvish led the majors last year at 12.6 percent and that the league average this year is 9.4 percent.

The last time a starting pitcher went a full season with a swing-and-miss ratio this high was Arizona’s Randy Johnson in 2002. That year The Big Unit induced swings-and-misses on 16.4 percent of his pitches en route to striking out 334 in 260 innings.

There’s no denying Bumgarner isn’t an elite real-life pitcher and fantasy pitcher, and his numbers should regulate, but if I have the choice between him and the guy with a 35/2 K/BB ratio in his first four starts of the season, I’ll take that guy every single time.

Trade Martin Prado For Kyle Seager

Seattle Mariners v Cleveland Indians

Don’t get me wrong, Prado is a fun player to own. In most leagues, Prado carries 2B, 3B, and OF eligibility, and that’s certainly useful when you have injuries and need to make trades, and Seager has been miserable so far this season, save for his two HR, five RBI performance yesterday.

But consider their 162 game averages in vital fantasy categories over the course of their careers:

Prado

82 R, 13 HR, 71 RBI, 6 SB

Seager

71 R, 20 HR, 73 RBI, 10 SB

I’m not saying Seager is far and away the better player, but you know what you’re getting with Prado at age 30. Give me the 26-year-old as he enters his prime. There’s just too much upside to ignore.

Trade Prince Fielder for Albert Pujols

sports_albert_pujols_los_angeles_angels

I know what you’re thinking. This is easy to say considering both players starts to the season, but considering these two players were ranked almost 40 spots on March 31st in most formats, I think it’s bold enough to project Pujols to be the better player going forward.

Fielder is on track with a lot of his peripherals, including his BB/K ratio (15/12), so his elite approach hasn’t changed, but his increasing groundball rate–especially to the pull side–continues to be a concern as the number has been in the 50% range over the last three seasons. It’s an easy equation to figure out. You can’t hit home runs on groundballs.

For Pujols, it seems like he’s right back in that .280, 30+ HR, 100+ RBI swoon, and his 2013 season seems like more of an outlier than anything else, and even then the power was there, with 17 HR in just 99 games due to injury. Throw in the fact he’s completely healthy, and you should feel pretty good about Phat Albert being a top 25 player for the rest of the season.

Follow OPSN Fantasy Baseball Analyst on Twitter @RealShawnFerris for more rankings and analysis.

Chris Colabello’s resilience paying off in 2014

Outfielder/DH Chris Colabello was at a cross roads in his career. He could have easily walked away from the game and no one would have blamed him, or nationally would have even cared, because he wasn’t well known.

The road for Colabello typically results in never getting signed, never getting recognized or even a chance to play in the big leagues. For seven years, he played in the Independent Leagues, separate from the Major Leagues. No MLB teams wanted him, except for the three weeks he spent with the Detroit Tigers organization in 2006 until they released him.

Many outside of the situation wondered and asked Colabello, “how long before you start selling cars or insurance?”

He wouldn’t let those questions and the doubt of others deter him from living the ultimate dream. In fact, he was signed by the Minnesota Twins and made his big league debut at the age of 29 on May 22, 2013 against the Atlanta Braves. He went 0-for-4, and the team was entrenched in an eight-game losing streak, but that didn’t take away from one of the best days of his life.

If he thought May 22, 2013 was the best day of his life, he might have to think April of 2014 would be the best month of his life and career. 11 months after his debut, the 30-year-old has a league-leading 26 RBI for the Twins and is batting at a .346/.386/.577 clip in 20 games.

He also had a big night at the plate on Wednesday as he blasted a home run on his mother’s birthday while she was ironically being interviewed on the Twins television broadcast.

Colabello homered twice in college on his mother’s birthday as well. There is some kind of magic there. While he didn’t homer twice on Wednesday night, he brought in the go-ahead two runs on a single in the 12th inning in addition to his long bomb. It worked out either way.

What a great story.

Follow OPSN’s Andrew Vigliotti on Twitter for more MLB updates @Andrew_Vig

 

 

The Chicago Cubs Let Another Game Get Away Late; This Time On The 100th Anniversary Of Wrigley Field

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

For eight innings, the party of the century was going according to script. The Chicago Feds were about to go 1-0, the Chicago Cubs were about to win their third game in a row, and Jeff Samardzija was about to finally get his first win of the season. Then, the ninth inning came along, and the party was over.

After eight innings, the Cubs were cruising along. Samardzija had done his job once again, going 7.1 innings pitched giving up just two earned runs while striking out five. In his fifth start of the season, the stat line was good enough for his fifth quality start of the year, and it should have been good enough for another victory. But again, the effort was wasted in the end before the final three outs could be had.

On a day where the celebration of Wrigley Field’s 100th Birthday was nearly perfect, the bullpen again failed to get the final three outs of a game, costing the team a win. The setting, backdrop and festivities were perfect. There was cake, a sellout crowd, and past legends all returning to what should have been the Cubs’ third straight victory, and first series victory in a long-overdue time. But in true, universe-turning fashion, the ninth inning cost Chicago a seemingly locked win. On this day, it was a team called the Packers stinging Chicago fans once again late in a game that should have been won by the home team.

Going into the start, Samardzija was the first pitcher since 1933 to start a season with four consecutive starts of pitching seven innings and allowing less than three earned runs in each without recording a win. After the team’s longest outing by a starting pitcher this season, the ace right-hander finally appeared to be in line for a win. But with just three outs to go in the game, it all unraveled again for the Cubs.

Samardzija now becomes the first pitcher in history to go winless in his first five starts to a season of pitching at least seven innings and allowing three runs or less. The Chicago Feds now know what has been going on at Wrigley Field for the last 100 years– pure heartache. To allow a team that has been struggling worse then you to come back and win a game in the ninth inning is a gift unwanted on any day.

After another gut-wrenching defeat, the question is now how many more will follow? After another bullpen meltdown, and an injury to one of their outfielders, will the Cubs be making even more changes? This is the type of loss that could spiral into something bigger and far worse. For their fan base, the Cubs cannot afford to have that happen. But, our guts unfortunately could have more to say.

 

For more MLB News and Updates Follow OPSN’s Nick Schaeflein @ptchr2424. 

Video: What is Blocking the Plate?

Oakland, Cali – The Texas Rangers got a lesson in what the catcher is supposed to do while facing a base runner.  In today’s Texas Rangers at Oakland Athletics, Prince Fielder hit a weak ground ball to allow Alex Rios to score from third.

In real-time it appeared that Rios was safe and was just able to slide under Derek Norris to reach the plate.  Rios was initially ruled safe, but Bob Melvin, Athletics manager, challenged the call.

Comparison of Norris clearing the base path versus today’s play

After the review, Rios was ruled out because Norris applied the tag before Rios was able to touch the plate. But it does raise the question about whether Norris gave the base path to Rios to allow him to slide.  Rios appeared to have a straight line to the bag, but Norris was standing in the way. The new rule states that the catcher must have the base path clear until he has the ball.  This new rule has the catcher clearing the base path and making a swiping tag of the base runner.  Clearly Norris didn’t do that today.

Next time that happens, Ron Washington should challenge the block at the plate.

Check out the video and you decide.  To me it seems like under the new rule, he was blocking the plate.

Video:  Norris blocking the path, tagging out Rios

Follow OPSN’s David Cash on Twitter for more MLB updates @dwcashMLB

VIDEO: Sanchez’s clutch grand slam lifts Giants over Rockies in 11 innings

Hector Sanchez‘s grand slam in the top of the 11th inning lifted the Giants over the Rockies in 11 innings on Wednesday. Here’s the clutch homer.

VIDEO: Pineda’s Ejection

New York Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda was ejected for having a foreign substance on his neck against the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night. Here is how everything went down.

BREAKING NEWS: Michael Pineda Ejected After Foreign Substanced Found on Neck

New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda was ejected from the game in the bottom of the second inning with two outs for having a foreign substance smudged on his neck.

Michael  Pineda Pine Tar

Red Sox Manager John Farrell went to home plate umpire Gerry Davis to have Pineda inspected for pine tar. Davis check his glove and hands for the substance, but nothing was found. When the substance was discovered on his right side of the neck, Davis immediately ejected Pineda from the game.

David Phelps was brought in from the bullpen to pitch in long relief for Pineda. Pineda will likely face suspension by the MLB for his illegal actions.

This isn’t the first time speculation of a foreign substance was found on Pineda this season. Earlier this month against the Red Sox, there appeared to be something found on his pitching hand in which the Red Sox didn’t object to. However, the second time around the Red Sox weren’t having it.

Follow OPSN’s Shukri Wrights on Twitter for more MLB updates @Shukri96Yankees

Tracy McGrady makes Skeeters Opening Day Roster

Tracy McGradyFormer NBA veteran Tracy McGrady has made the Sugar Land Skeeters Opening Day roster, according to the manager and former 20-year MLB veteran Gary Gaetti, via My Fox Houston.

“Tracy is on the team,” Gaetti said. “He’s just done what needed to be done since the idea came about. He’s showed enough progress. He showed ability and we’re going to see where this goes.”

McGrady’s first start in the exhibition season was against Alvin Community College in which he allowed one run on three hits in one inning of work. He threw 15 pitches, nine for strikes. He did not walk or strikeout anybody.

The club issued a statement about the 6-foot-8 right-hander making the club. The decision was made final on Wednesday.

“We are excited about our team this season and having Tracy McGrady as a part of it,” said Gaetti. “We’re also excited to see what unique opportunities this could present for us in putting a good product on the field and we look forward to Tracy helping us win some ball games.”

Before baseball, McGrady was a 16-year NBA veteran with the Toronto Raptors, Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks and San Antonio Spurs. He amassed two scoring titles and seven All-Star game nominations.

Follow OPSN’s Andrew Vigliotti on Twitter for more MLb updates @Andrew_Vig

 

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