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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher David Price (elbow) is working his way back from the 10-day disabled list, as he threw his second simulated game at Fenway Park on Wednesday. He worked three simulated inning, tossing 47 pitches while using his full arsenal of pitches. That’s the good news, and he made a nice stab on a line drive, too, while showing no ill effects of his injury. However, the good news doesn’t come without any bad news for his fantasy owners, who are growing increasingly impatient.

 

Reports out of Boston on Wednesday indicated that manager John Farrell hasn’t decided whether the left-handed starting pitcher will work in the rotation or out of the bullpen as a middle reliever. If he is to return in a starting capacity he would need at least one more simulated start, so that would likely limit him to just a couple of starts down the stretch. Price indicated that he doesn’t mind what role he fulfills, as long as he is back and contributing. He isn’t concerned about aggravating his injury, as he is feeling much stronger.

 

Price, who hasn’t pitched since July 22, has a 5-3 record with a 3.82 ERA and 1.27 WHIP this season across 11 starts, posting 63 strikeouts over 66 innings. While the Red Sox do not want to push him terribly hard since he is under contract through 2022 for big money, and an elbow can be a tricky thing, he is a better option than at least two options in the current rotation.

 

Price obviously isn’t an option to supplant Chris Sale, and Rick Porcello has been pitching much better lately, too. He is 5-6 with a 4.43 ERA with 58 strikeouts over 67 innings across 11 starts after the All-Star break. While those numbers aren’t eye popping, it’s much better than his pre-break performance. And Price isn’t taking the job of Drew Pomeranz, who has arguably been Boston’s best pitcher since the break. He is 15-5 overall, and 6-1 with a 2.98 ERA while striking out 63 batters over 63 1/3 innings with a sparkling .234 opponent batting average.

 

That leaves two options for Price to replace, should manager John Farrell and the Boston brass decide to insert the left-handed back into the rotation. Doug Fister is 5-6 with a 4.00 ERA across nine starts and three relief appearances since the break, which isn’t terribly impressive. However, he has the best opponent batting average among all starters at .224, striking out a solid 55 batters over 63 1/3 innings. Eduardo Rodriguez might be the guy shipped to the bullpen in the event Price returns as a starter, which would be ironic considering the flap between Dennis Eckersley and Price concerning the television commentator’s comments about Rodriguez’s statistics during a rehab stint back in June.

 

Price hasn’t appeared in relief during the regular season since the 2010 season when he was a member of the Tampa Bay Rays, so it would be a big change. It’s a change fantasy owners hope they do not see.

 

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Harper’s Progress

 

Washington’s Bryce Harper (calf, knee) is making progress in his rehab, as he tries to make his way back to the team before the start of the postseason. That would be a huge boost for a Washington team with big postseason hopes. He has started to do some light running, according to manager Dusty Baker, and he is doing some hitting off the tee and throwing from 30-45 feet for the past week. He still has a lot of work to do before he is green-lighted to make a return to the big club, but it’s good to hear he is making progress.

 

It certainly looked like Harper suffered substantial damage to his knee when he slipped on a wet base in a game back in mid-August against the San Francisco Giants. However, miraculously he only suffered a bone bruise in the left knee while also straining his calf in the awkward tumble. The fact he could make an appearance in the postseason, perhaps in a regular role, is music to the ears of those holding stock in Harper in long-term keeper formats. It would put a lot of minds at ease heading into the postseason just seeing Harper on the field doing his thing rather than wearing street clothes.

 

Indian Summer

 

The Cleveland Indians won their 21st consecutive game on Wednesday afternoon, sweeping the Detroit Tigers. In the process they swept their sixth consecutive series, including two in a row against the Tigers. Mike Clevinger ran his record to 10-5 with a win Wednesday, allowing three runs – one earned – over 5 2/3 innings with six strikeouts. Clevinger has rattled off four consecutive victories and he hasn’t lost in five outings dating back to Aug. 17. While run support has been a big factor in his pitching success, he has picked up the pace in the strikeouts department. He has struck out 28 batters over his past 23 2/3 innings during the four-game winning streak.

 

Believe it or not, the last Cleveland pitcher to take an ‘L’ is Corey Kluber back on Aug. 23 against the Red Sox. Since then he has allowed just five runs over the past 32 innings while striking out 35 batters. Every Cleveland starter is red hot after the All-Star break. Josh Tomlin is 4-0 with a 2.57 ERA and .204 opponent batting average in five post-break starters, Trevor Bauer is 9-1 with a 3.03 ERA across 11 starts and one relief appearance since the All-Star Game and Carlos Carrasco is 5-3 with a 3.38 ERA and 87 strikeouts over 74 2/3 innings in his 12 outings since the midsummer classic. If anyone thinks that the Indians streak is luck, or their offense just mashing the ball, it has been way more and a total team effort. But it starts with pitching, and theirs has been amazing from top to bottom.

 

National League Quick Hits: Ozzie Albies extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single and RBI over three at-bats. He is hitting .348 (16-for-46) with nine runs scored, a homer and seven RBI. … Marcell Ozuna wore the golden sombrero in Philadelphia, and he is just 14-for-64 (.219) with 25 strikeouts over his past 15 games. … Aaron Nola posted a career-high 11 strikeouts over seven innings in a win against the Marlins, improving to 11-10 while lowering his ERA to 3.60. … Rhys Hoskins continues to be everything as advertised, swatting his 17th homer across 116 at-bats in just 33 games. … Albert Almora Jr. doesn’t get to play every day, but he makes the most of his opportunities. He picked up a triple and a homer with six RBI, giving him 41 RBI over 272 at-bats. … Javier Baez finished 4-for-5 with his 22nd home run of the season. He entered the season with 24 home runs over his first 222 major league games. … Rene Rivera came on as a defensive replacement, but it didn’t stop him from producing. He finished 2-for-2 with two doubles, two runs scored and two RBI in the rout of the Mets. … Rookie Dinelson Lamet allowed just one run and five hits with two walks over six innings in a no-decision in Minnesota, posting his fourth consecutive quality start. Despite the impressive stretch with a 1.88 ERA, he is 0-2. The Padres have provided a total of just four runs over his past five outings. … Eric Thames posted his 30th home run on Wednesday. He entered the season with just 21 homers over his first 181 major league games in stints with the Blue Jays and Mariners, so appears he has found a home in Cream City.

 

American League Quick Hits: Cody Allen worked a perfect 13-pitch ninth inning for his 27th save against the Tigers. Allen struggled in the first few appearances in August, but he has been untouchable lately. Allen has worked 14 1/3 scoreless innings dating back to Aug. 9. … Nick Castellanos went 2-for-3 with a double, a run scored and RBI to push his hitting streak to 10 games. … Lucas Giolito allowed just one run, four hits and three walks over 6 1/3 innings in a no-decision. He has posted a sharp 2.56 ERA and 0.95 WHIP over his past five outings. … Mike Zunino slapped a pair of solo home runs while also drawing a pair of walks. While he is hitting just .246 overall, his 23 homers mark a new career high. … Mike Leake has been a solid pick-up since coming over in a deal from St. Louis. He is 3-0 with a 2.41 ERA and 1.32 WHIP across 18 2/3 innings in three outings with the M’s. … Jed Lowrie finished 3-for-4 with a double, a triple, two runs scored and two RBI. He has 45 doubles, second-best in the majors behind Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez (48). … Luis Valbuena continues to make up for lost time. He had a horrendous start to the season, hitting just six homers over 173 at-bats before the All-Star break. He is still hitting just .199 overall on the season, but he has belted 14 home runs in just 129 at-bats since the break. … Tyler Skaggs was dominant in a win over Houston, allowing just three hits and a walk with five strikeouts over seven scoreless innings. He improved to just 2-5 while lowering his ERA to 4.37. … Eddie Rosario has been eating up San Diego pitching. For the second straight day he swatted a home run while picking up two hits and two RBI.

 

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