Nathan Grimm

Baseball Daily Dose

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Daily Dose: Hello, Joe

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Joe Ross is back.

Physically, that is.

It remains to be seen whether the 2016 version of Joe Ross is back as well, but the 24-year-old right-hander is at least set to pitch again in the major leagues, going for the Nationals Tuesday against the Mariners. Ross will be activated by the club ahead of making the start later that night.

What to expect is still unknown. It's been a difficult year for Ross, who went an impressive 7-5 with a 3.43 ERA in 19 starts for the Nats last season before struggling to a 7.47 ERA out of the gate this year.

The issues led him to be demoted following his April 30 start against the Mets, a lopsided Nationals win but one in which Ross allowed five runs on seven hits over four innings of work. In three starts at the big league level, Ross allowed 20 hits, including five homers, over 15 2/3 innings of work.

He was sent to Triple-A Syracuse to work on his mechanics, and although the sample size is just three starts, Ross has shown improvement since his demotion. In his last start on May 17, he allowed a run on eight hits over seven innings of work, striking out six.

Nationals manager Dusty Baker is on record, per the Washington Post, as advocating that "we need Joe," suggesting Ross will be given every opportunity to hold onto a starting spot with the big club. Owned in just 31 percent of Yahoo leagues after his early slump, Ross is worth a speculative add in leagues where he's available.

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Kluber (Back) Set For Rehab Start

One ace is just a step away from rejoining his team's rotation.

Corey Kluber is set to make a rehab start Thursday for Triple-A Columbus, after which he could be activated in time to make his next start with the Indians. Kluber has been on the disabled list since May 3 with lower back discomfort.

But he threw another bullpen session Monday with no issues, clearing the way for his rehab start Thursday. Pitching coach Mickey Callaway said the right-hander will throw roughly five innings or 70 to 75 pitches in the start.

If he gets through that start OK and gets clearance from his coaches, including manager Terry Francona, he'll likely return for a start with the Tribe next week.

"We don't want this recurring," Callaway said prior to Monday's game against the Reds at Great American Ball Park. "We need our ace out there every day, and we think we went with the right approach."

The team also needs him at peak effectiveness, something he wasn't prior to the DL stint. Through six starts, Kluber owned a 5.06 ERA and 1.37 WHIP, a far cry from his dominance in recent years.

Assuming the back injury had something to do with those struggles, it's fair to expect a better showing from a more-healthy Kluber moving forward.

Greinke Finding Cy Form Again

If you wrote off Zack Greinke before the season, you weren't alone.

Greinke did, after all, turn 33 after the 2016 season, a season in which he posted a pedestrian 4.37 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 26 starts. He was slowly but surely losing velocity. Heck, there were even whispers that the Diamondbacks, a team with which he'd signed a six-year, $206.5 million contract the previous offseason, were looking to unload him this past winter.

They're sure glad they didn't. The Diamondbacks are eight games over .500 following Monday's win, and Greinke is leading the way. The right-hander fired a one-run, four-hit, 12-strikeout gem in the 5-1 win over the White Sox, coming within an out of his second complete game of the season.

With the strong performance, Greinke is now 6-2 with a 2.82 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 78/12 K/BB ratio over 67 innings to date. He's now allowed just one run in half of his 10 starts this year.

Reports of his death, it seems, are greatly exaggerated.

National League Quick Hits: Hunter Pence (hamstring) ran sprints and did agility drills Monday. Pence surely won't be ready for activation when first eligible on Tuesday, but his activities Monday would seem to be a good sign that he's not far off. It's unclear whether he'll require a rehab assignment before returning to the Giants' lineup ... Brandon Finnegan (trapezius) will throw a 20-pitch bullpen session Tuesday. It will be his first time throwing off the bump since he strained his left trapezius in his third start of the season. Obviously he has a ways to go, but Finnegan is projected to rejoin the Reds' rotation sometime in the June 19-24 range assuming all goes well with his rehab ... Joe Panik went 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI in the Giants' defeat of the Cubs on Monday. The second baseman lifted his season OPS from .641 to .698 with the offensive outburst ... Jeff Hoffman held the Phillies to one run and three hits over seven innings to prevail Monday. Hoffman struck out seven and walked none in his spot start. Despite the good showing, Hoffman likely will head back to Triple-A on Tuesday ... Jim Johnson earned his ninth save of the season Monday in the Braves' 5-2 defeat of the Pirates. Johnson plunked Adam Frazier with two outs, but he induced a groundout from Josh Harrison to close out the victory for Atlanta. The veteran right-hander holds a sharp 2.84 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, and 19/3 K/BB ratio in 19 innings this season for the Braves.

American League Quick Hits: Josh Donaldson (calf) went 0-for-2 with a pair of strikeouts in his first minor league rehab game with High-A Dunedin on Monday. He was also hit by a pitch in the contest. The important thing though is that he made it through the game healthy. He's expected to need a couple of games before he's ready to rejoin the Blue Jays later in the week ... Carlos Carrasco (pectoral) will start Tuesday in Cincinnati. Carrasco exited his last outing with tightness in his left pectoral area, but he threw his between-starts bullpen session with no issues ... Mariners recalled C Mike Zunino from Triple-A Tacoma. Zunino was sent down earlier this month after hitting just .167/.250/.236 with no homers and a 30/6 K/BB ratio, but he's earned another shot after batting .293/.356/.707 with five homers in 12 games at Tacoma. He'll go back to seeing the lion's share of starts at catcher for the Mariners and remains an intriguing power bat, but obviously he's far from a safe bet ... Twins placed RHP Phil Hughes on the 10-day disabled list with right biceps tendinitis. There had seemed to be some worry that Hughes might have structural damage in his shoulder, so this is relatively good news. Still, he'll be sidelined for a while, and given his 5.74 ERA he wouldn't seem to be guaranteed a rotation spot once he's deemed ready ... Albert Pujols (hamstring) returned to the Angels' lineup Monday against the Rays. Pujols sat out the entire weekend series against the Mets while dealing with a minor hamstring strain. He went 0-for-3 in Monday's win ... Carlos Rodon (biceps) threw another simulated game at extended spring training Monday. Rodon threw 60 pitches in 15-pitch intervals, getting up and down four times. It's his fourth since he began ramping up his throwing program after going down with bursitis in his left biceps. Rodon admitted Monday that the rehab process has been "frustrating" for him, but it does appear he's making real progress. As far as what that might mean for a potential rehab assignment, it's not clear at this point ... Angels optioned 1B C.J. Cron to Triple-A Salt Lake. Cron gets the boot one day after hitting a grand slam against the Mets. The 27-year-old has missed time with a foot injury this season while batting just .232/.281/.305 through 24 games. he Angels can mix and match at first base with Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte, and Albert Pujols ... Tigers optioned RHP Anibal Sanchez to Triple-A Toledo. Sanchez had to agree to the move given his big league tenure, and it was actually his idea, as he wants to be stretched out to start again. The veteran right-hander has posted a 9.00 ERA and 2.05 WHIP over 11 relief appearances this season, although he did strike out 22 over 21 innings. He could get another shot to start with the Tigers if Matt Boyd's struggles continue.



Nathan Grimm is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. He can also be found on Twitter (@Nate_Grimm).
Email :Nathan Grimm


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