Daily Dose: Johnny On the Spot

D.J. Short
September 17, 2013
Week That Was: Rumors Swirl
Nick Nelson recaps a week that featured trade rumors, more prospect promotions, and historically great pitching

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Three trips to the disabled list for a strained lat muscle have rendered this a lost season for Johnny Cueto, but there's still a chance for redemption moving forward.

In his return from the disabled list, Cueto tossed five scoreless innings Monday as part of a 6-1 victory over the Astros. He allowed five hits (four of them singles) and one walk while striking out five batters. According to Brooks Baseball, he averaged just over 93 mph on his fastball and induced 14 swinging strikes, both very good signs.

Cueto told C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer after the game that he feels like he just finished spring training and could have pitched deeper than he did, so he could be a big boost to the Reds and fantasy owners if the long layoff did the job. He currently lines up to make his final two starts of the regular season against the Pirates.

Cashner is Money

The Padres are still the only MLB franchise without a no-hitter, but Andrew Cashner made things interesting Monday night by tossing a one-hit shutout in a 2-0 victory over the Pirates. It was his first career shutout and the 14th one-hit shutout in team history.

The only baserunner allowed by Cashner was a leadoff single by Jose Tabata in the seventh inning. He was later erased on a double play grounder off the bat of Andrew McCutchen, so Cashner ended up facing the minimum. While he didn't get the no-hitter, he was the first Padres pitcher to ever face just 27 hitters in a nine-inning game.

Cashner, 27, now owns a quality 3.21 ERA and 121/47 K/BB ratio over 168 innings this season. The strikeout rate has been a little lower than expected given how hard he throws and he has predictably been better at home than on the road, but there's plenty of reason to feel good about him going into 2014. He should be viewed as a top 50 starting pitcher in mixed fantasy leagues with the chance for significant upside if he can miss more bats and avoid the disabled list.

Kemp Returns, Sort Of

Hopefully you haven't been burning a roster spot while Matt Kemp has been sidelined with an ankle injury, because you might not get much bang for your buck over the final two weeks of the season.

Kemp was activated from the disabled list for Monday's game against the Diamondbacks, but he wasn't in the starting lineup. In fact, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly noted that he was "really tentative" while running the bases prior to the game, so he plans to limit him to pinch-hitting duties initially. He struck out to end Monday's loss.

The Dodgers are looking ahead to the postseason at this point, so just because Kemp is active doesn't mean that he'll play regularly. Don't count on much from him the rest of the way.

Waiting on King Felix

Felix Hernandez was originally hoping to return from an oblique injury Wednesday against the Tigers, but fantasy owners will have to wait a little bit longer for the ace right-hander.

Hernandez made it through a bullpen session Monday without any issues, but the Mariners are going with Hisashi Iwakuma on Wednesday, James Paxton on Thursday, and Erasmo Ramirez on Friday. This means that Hernandez won't return until Saturday against the Angels at the earliest.

Hernandez hasn't pitched since September 2 due to soreness on his left side. The 27-year-old owns a 3.01 ERA and 200/41 K/BB ratio over 194 1/3 innings this season, though he posted a 6.42 ERA over his last six starts prior to the injury. If he makes it back to pitch Saturday, he'll line up to make his final start of the season next weekend against the first-place Athletics.

NL Quick Hits: Cliff Lee yielded two runs over eight innings and struck out 14 batters while driving in four runs in Monday's win over the Marlins … Paul Goldschmidt launched a two-run homer -- his 33rd of the season -- in Monday's win over the Dodgers … The Mets are expected to provide an update on Matt Harvey on Tuesday after he received a second opinion on his injured right elbow from Dr. James Andrews on Monday … Yasiel Puig (hip) went 0-for-2 with two walks and an RBI in his return to action Monday … Wilin Rosario left Monday's game with a calf injury… Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Monday that Andre Ethier (ankle) is "still a few days away" from returning … Aramis Ramirez (wrist) went 1-for-4 with a run scored in his return to the lineup Monday … Hyun-Jin Ryu allowed just two runs on two hits over eight innings Monday in a tough-luck loss to the Diamondbacks … Wily Peralta allowed just an unearned run over six innings in Monday's win over the Cubs … Nolan Arenado left Monday's game after aggravating his right thumb injury … Chad Billingsley (elbow) is four weeks into his throwing program ...

AL Quick Hits: Wil Myers homered and drove in three runs Monday against the Rangers … Yoenis Cespedes (shoulder) went 2-for-3 in his return to the lineup Monday ... Justin Masterson (oblique) is expected to throw a bullpen session Friday  … Alex Cobb allowed two runs in eight innings and notched 10 strikeouts in a win over the Rangers on Monday … Rick Porcello tossed six innings of one-run ball and struck out 10 batters in Monday's win over the Mariners … C.J. Wilson held the Athletics to one run over seven innings Monday for his career-high 17th victory ... Justin Smoak (quad) went 2-for-4 with an RBI single in his return to the lineup Monday … James Shields tossed six innings of one-run ball and struck out 10 batters Monday against the Indians … Alexei Ramirez went 4-for-4 with a home run Monday against the Twins … Jed Lowrie (hamstring) expects to return to the lineup Tuesday … The suspended Jhonny Peralta will play left field in instructional league games starting Wednesday … Brad Miller (hamstring) missed his second straight game Monday … The Royals will call up prospect right-hander Yordano Ventura to start Tuesday against the Indians … Danny Duffy is sidelined with a mild flexor strain following an MRI and could miss the rest of the season… Alexi Ogando will start Tuesday against the Rays, but is expected to be on a pitch count … The Orioles designated Wilson Betemit for assignment …