Some will call Troy Tulowitzki injury prone, others will call him unlucky. I'm not going to get into that quicksand debate; pick whatever side you like. Either way, Colorado's MVP candidate is going to be on the shelf for a while.
Tulowitzki had been playing through rib discomfort for a week or so, but things took a turn for the worse in Thursday's matinee loss to Washington. Tulowitzki dove for an infield grounder in the eighth inning and suffered a broken rib, an injury expected to cost him 4-6 weeks. It's the fifth time in seven years Tulowitzki will miss time with a serious physical ailment.
Tulo's injury presents a buying opportunity in many mixers, with Josh Rutledge expected to rejoin the Rockies and take over at shortstop. Rutledge was demoted to Triple-A back on May 22, a commentary on his defense as much as his disappointing offense. The move stung for fantasy owners, given that Rutledge had ample category juice (five homers, five steals) to go with a mediocre .242 average through six weeks. His bat came alive during 17 games with Colorado Springs: look at that zesty .348/.438/.565 slash line.
Rutledge was a polarizing fantasy commodity back in March. Some were excited about his snappy debut in 2012 (.274-37-8-37-7 over 73 games) while others worried about an extensive September slump and a reluctance to take walks. Rutledge has been more patient in 2013, drawing a combined 21 walks in 226 at-bats between the majors and Colorado Springs. The experience at Triple-A probably doesn't hurt, given he skipped that level entirely the first time around.
The next move is up to you. Rutledge is free to grab in 68 percent of Yahoo! leagues (even after the Thursday buying spike), and he carries a couple of notable fringe benefits (Coors Field for home games; eligibility at both second base and shortstop). It's a good time to jump back in.
The Colorado injury woes don't stop at Tulowitzki; Carlos Gonzalez (foot) and Dexter Fowler (finger) are both listed as day-to-day. Cargo was struck by a foul ball Thursday, waiting in the on-deck circle, while Fowler was hit by a pitch. If either player is hurt for any significant time, Tyler Colvin is the stand-in outfielder. The Rockies finally got Michael Cuddyer (ribs) back this week, while Eric Young Jr. was designated for assignment.
• Kevin Gausman's first go-round in the majors showed plenty of promise, but more seasoning is a decent idea for the 22-year-old phenom. Gausman posted a 7.66 ERA and 1.62 WHIP over his five turns, bitten regularly by the home-run ball (seven). But with 20 strikeouts against six walks over 24.2 innings, you can see the potential here.
Gausman was a double-promotion back a month ago, but he's being slotted in Triple-A for now. His final start in the majors, incidentally, was one of the better ones: 5.1 solid innings against the Red Sox on Thursday (6 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 5 K). He also showed his chops against the Tigers back in early June (6 IP, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K). There's a good chance we'll be talking about Gausman again before the season is over.
• Let's take a second to appreciate the work the Kansas City pitching staff, is doing, especially Ervin Santana. The big righty posted 7.2 excellent innings under the catwalk Thursday (5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K), grabbing his fifth victory. He's the No. 17 starting pitcher in the Yahoo! game to this point, sparked by those dreamy ratios (2.74 ERA, 1.00 WHIP), and yet he's still available in about a third of leagues. Some things don't make a lot of sense. The Royals also have the lowest team ERA in the American League, if you wanted to know. You might drink for free with that one.
The Royals offense remains a pain in the neck, though Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez (love him batting third) are all over .300 for June, small sample and all. Maybe George Brett's tutelage is helping some guys (though to be fair, the overall team numbers haven't spiked). Heck, Hosmer even hit a home run Thursday. I don't expect a mad playoff run from the Royals, but this roster should be better than the 31-33 record we see. There's plenty of upside here.
• The Ike Davis rebuild could take a while in Triple-A, as the Mets overhaul his mechanics. Davis is using a new hand position and the coaches are trying to iron out the hitch from his swing. Davis is off to a 2-for-11 start in the minors (two walks, three strikeouts), for whatever that's worth. It's a process. He shouldn't be on any shallow or medium mixed roster right now. (And yet there he is, 30-percent owned in Yahoo! We can't do the add/drop for you. Get in the game, ace.)
• Punch up a sleeper alert on Seattle righty Erasmo Ramirez, who is over a triceps strain and doing work in the minors. He's made three starts in Triple-A and the numbers jump out at you: 20.2 IP, 16 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 18 K. He cut his teeth nicely in a MLB trial last year, and obviously the Safeco environment is a good place to do business. Clip and save. You'll probably want him at some point in the second half (if not sooner).
Speed Round: It's nice to see signs of life from Starlin Castro (three hits, two steals). He hadn't attempted a steal or managed a multi-hit game since May 27 . . . Aaron Hill (hand, aloha) might be ready to start a rehab assignment this weekend . . . Stephen Strasburg (oblique) did fine in Thursday's bullpen session and should be able to start Sunday at Cleveland . . . The Yankees aren't sure if outfielder Curtis Granderson (finger) will be ready to go before the All-Star break . . . David Price (triceps) threw 54 pitches in a simulated game Thursday and should start a rehab assignment next week . . . Jose Reyes (ankle) is also eying a rehab assignment, perhaps as soon as Monday . . . Carlos Ruiz (hamstring) and Mitch Moreland (hamstring) are both pointing at a June 21 return. It's all happening . . . The Cardinals bullpen was gasoline alley in the early weeks, but their late-inning relievers have been untouchable for a while now. Trevor Rosenthal is almost too good to be true (1.64/1.00, 47 strikeouts against six walks over 33 innings) while Edward Mujica is 18-for-18 in saves and has outstanding numbers, too (1.82/0.64, one walk, 27 K). You'd like to see Rosenthal's workload relaxed a bit, and his future is as a starter, but for now, this is a lockdown duo . . . Brandon Beachy is done with his rehab assignment, but we still don't know how the Braves are going to handle their rotation surplus. Perhaps they'll go six-man for a while; otherwise, the likely bullpen shifters are Kris Medlen (for the relief experience) and Julio Teheran (paying dues, kid). Atlanta is expected to start Beachey in one half of Tuesday's doubleheader against the Mets, a game we'll watch closely . . . The Pirates lost A.J. Burnett (calf) to the DL and Starling Marte (rib cage) is also in limbo at the moment. Charlie Morton was mediocre (5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 ER) in Thursday's start against the Giants.
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