The Atlanta Braves' season-long rotation woes continued Tuesday when Max Fried, the top healthy starter, was placed on the 10-day injured list.
The latest blow to the rotation could accelerate the team’s plans to have Cole Hamels rushed into action for his 2020 debut.
Fried had been the only current healthy member of the projected rotation before the season began.
The predicament facing the Braves was on display Tuesday night in an 8-0 loss to the visiting Marlins. Kyle Wright (0-4) allowed five runs on seven hits, including three homers, in four innings as his ERA climbed to 8.05.
Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos said Fried has a left-side muscle spasm in his lumbar spine. Anthopoulos said he hopes Fried can return from the IL as soon as he is eligible Sept. 16.
Fried said his velocity “was definitely down” after he allowed three runs in five innings against the Washington Nationals on Saturday night. He is 6-0 with a 1.98 ERA after not taking a decision in the 10-4 loss.
Before the injury, Fried excelled as the team’s top starter, filling the void left when the Braves lost Opening Day starter Mike Soroka to a torn right Achilles' tendon suffered Aug. 3 against the Mets.
Soroka’s season-ending injury was only the most notable of a staggering series of setbacks that have rocked the rotation.
Former ace Mike Foltynewicz was designated for assignment and then assigned to the team’s alternate training site after he was not signed by another club. The move came after the righthander gave up three home runs, four walks, and six runs in his 2020 debut, a 14-5 loss at Tampa Bay.
Hamels, the lefthander signed to add needed experience to the rotation, has not pitched this season after having a sore shoulder in spring training and then developing triceps tendinitis. Hamels threw his first live batting practice after Sunday’s game.
Another veteran, Félix Hernández, opted out of the 2020 season after it appeared he might win the No. 5 spot in the rotation. Also, lefthander Sean Newcomb was 0-2 with an 11.20 ERA in four starts.
Anthopoulos acquired journeyman Tommy Milone from Baltimore at the trade deadline but was unable to add more help for the rotation.
Instead, the Braves have plugged in such pitchers as Josh Tomlin and Huascar Ynoa and have managed to remain in first place in the NL East. Their lead over the Phillies shrank to two games after Monday’s 5-4 loss to the Marlins in 10 innings.
The Braves may rush Hamels into action. He will throw again Thursday at the team’s alternate training site and could be activated when Atlanta plays at Baltimore next week.
“I think it’s just a matter of he knows himself and his body,” Anthopoulos said. “This whole year hasn’t been a normal year in terms of ramp-up and prep.”
Hamels impressed the Braves in his workout on Sunday, raising hopes he can still help the team’s drive for its fourth straight NL East title.
“As long as Cole is healthy and he can continue to build up we’re going to do what’s best for him and the team as well,” Anthopoulos said.
Foul mood: Wieters hits 14 in one at-bat
Matt Wieters hit 14 foul balls during a 19-pitch at-bat that finished with a fly out during a wild rally that sent the St. Louis Cardinals over the visiting Minnesota Twins, 6-4, night for a doubleheader split.
The Twins led, 2-0, in the third inning before combining two singles, three walks, and two hitters to score five runs. Wieters, hit by a pitch from Randy Dobnak (6-3) earlier in the inning, came up with two outs and the bases loaded against reliever Caleb Thielbar. Wieters quickly fell behind 0 and 2 before eventually working the count full. He then fouled off nine straight pitches before flying out to center.
“Sadly, I would like to say that I wasn’t running out of breath up there, but I was,” Wieters said. “I might need to work on some cardio. That’s probably the most swings I’ve taken in a day this year so far.”
Wieters, a four-time All-Star who nows backs up Yadier Molina, has 15 at-bats this season and one hit.
Wieters’s at-bat was not a record. In stats kept since 1988, San Francisco’s Brandon Belt had a 21-pitch at-bat against the Angels' Jaime Barria in 2018 that ended with a fly out.
In the first game, Josh Donaldson, Nelson Cruz, and Miguel Sanó all homered, leading the Twins to a 7-3 victory in the first game. Cruz also homered in the second game to tie him for the MLB lead with 15.
Yankees' skid reaches five
Gary Sánchez and the slumping New York Yankees lost their fifth in a row and fell for the 15th time in 20 games, this time in a 2-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays in Buffalo.
At 21-21, the Yankees are at .500 or worse in September for the first time since 1995. Missing injured stars Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and more, they began the day tied with Houston for the last two spots in the expanded playoff field during the pandemic-shortened 60-game season.
Jonathan Davis homered in his first at-bat of the season and the Blue Jays won their third straight game, a day after beating the Yankees 12-7.
Sánchez returned to the lineup after being benched the previous two games and went 0 for 4 with a strikeout. Sánchez is stuck in a 3-for-32 funk that has dropped his batting average to .125. Sánchez also dropped a foul popup for an error.
Toronto first baseman Rowdy Tellez was replaced for a pinch hitter in the eighth after appearing to injure his right leg or foot chasing a foul pop in the top half.
A’s hand Greinke first loss
Khris Davis homered and hit an RBI double in a rare start facing previously unbeaten Zack Greinke, and the Oakland A’s sent the Houston Astros to their sixth straight loss, 4-2, in the first game of a doubleheader.
Ash from nearby wildfires fell inside the Coliseum as the A’s stretched their AL West lead over second-place Houston to 5½ games.
Robbie Grossman hit a go-ahead double in the sixth and Ramón Laureano added an RBI single for Oakland.
The A’s played as the visiting team in a makeup of a postponement from Aug. 30 after pitcher Daniel Mengden’s positive coronavirus test result. Oakland missed four games in all, including three in Seattle that forced the club to play three doubleheaders in a seven-day span that began Tuesday.
Davis, the major league homer leader in 2018, snapped an 0-for-8 stretch playing for the first time since Aug. 26 at Texas. He began the day 3 for 8 lifetime against Greinke with a home run and a double.
Padres’ Hosmer hurts finger
The San Diego Padres placed first baseman Eric Hosmer on the 10-day injured list with a broken left index finger suffered while bunting with two strikes the night before.
To take his roster spot, the Padres recalled outfielder Abraham Almonte from the alternate training site.
Manager Jayce Tingler said Hosmer won’t require surgery and his finger is in a splint.
Tingler said the recovery time could be two to three weeks, and after that it would be a “pain tolerance deal. We’ve got a lot of confidence in Hos being able to take a high level of pain.”
Cubs add gear with Hamilton
The Cubs added speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton to their active roster and optioned slumping slugger José Martínez to their alternate training site.
Hamilton was claimed off waivers from the Mets on Monday. Hamilton, who turns 30 on Wednesday, went 1 for 22 in 17 games with New York before he was designated for assignment Friday.
Martínez, an infielder/outfielder, is 0 for 14 since he coming over in a trade with Tampa Bay Aug. 30. The Cubs were hoping he could help address their trouble against lefthanded pitching this year, but it hasn’t worked out so far.
“In this weird season it’s hard to give somebody consistent at-bats when they feel off and their timing’s off,” manager David Ross said before Tuesday night’s series opener against Cincinnati. “So just giving him an opportunity to go down there, get regular at-bats, get his timing back and come back and be the guy that we really need.”
Right fielder Jason Heyward was out of Chicago’s starting lineup for the second straight day. Heyward left Sunday night’s 7-3 loss to St. Louis because he was feeling lightheaded and having difficulty breathing,
Ross said Heyward underwent more tests on Tuesday. Heyward has been one of Chicago’s most consistent players this year, batting .300 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 35 games.
“Talked to him a little bit this morning. Still feeling a little bit fatigued,” Ross said, “so I’m going to stay away from him to start the game for sure.”
Smoak cut loose by Brewers
The Brewers released first baseman Justin Smoak after designating him for assignment last week.
Smoak hit .186 with five home runs and 15 RBIs in 33 games for the Brewers. Milwaukee claimed first baseman Daniel Vogelbach off waivers last week. The Brewers entered Tuesday night’s game at Detroit trailing the final playoff spot in the National League by 1½ games.
Smoak’s struggles came after he hit 85 homers over the previous three seasons with Toronto, where he was an All-Star in 2017, when he hit 38 homers and drove in 90.