The past three days could qualify as the good, the bad and the ugly for Rafael Betancourt.
On Tuesday, Betancourt closed out the Phillies with relative ease, pitching a perfect ninth inning to pick up his 16th save. Then on Wednesday, Betancourt imploded for his second blown save of the season, giving up two runs in just 1/3 of an inning.
The ugly, then, came Thursday, when Betancourt's third blown save was the secondary story to the report that the right-hander may have torn his elbow ligament during the outing. Betancourt will undergo an MRI on Monday after which more will be known, but the early concern is that the injury could require Tommy John surgery, a near-death sentence for a 39-year-old such as Betancourt.
While the long-term ramifications of the injury could prove disastrous, it's a near certainty that at the very least Betancourt will require a stint on the disabled list. That will once again open the door for Rex Brothers to re-enter the saves conversation. Brothers has just one blown save on the year, and it came in the seventh inning of a game in May. During Betancourt's absence from mid-July to recently, Brothers was a perfect seven-for-seven in save opportunities. The left-hander has 11 saves and a 1.51 ERA with 56 strikeouts in 53 2/3 innings thus far this season.
Brothers is legitimately talented and would be an above-average closer if the job was his full-time, so owners should jump on the 25-year-old in light of Thursday's news.
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Beachy's Not Peachy
The news may be similarly bad for Braves starter Brandon Beachy.
Beachy will visit Dr. James Andrews on Monday to have his surgically-repaired elbow examined. Beachy has made just five starts this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery during the 2012 season.
Beachy started noticing issues during the final inning of his start against the Mets on Tuesday.
"It started tightening up on me (Tuesday), and it just kept getting worse," Beachy told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I was trying to throw through it. It started to feel a lot like it did before I got shut down the first time. Started losing control, and I looked up (at the radar gun reading) and saw a bunch of 85’s (mph). That last one there, I got the guy to pop out, and I looked up and it said 82 mph change-up. I said, I could have swore that was a four-seamer (fastball) that I threw."
The red flags in that quote are numerous and obvious. If the injury turns out to be more elbow troubles for Beachy, it could spell the end of not just his 2013 season but may also cut into his 2014 season as well. Recovery from Tommy John surgery has made huge strides in recent years, but just this year Daniel Hudson required a second procedure after experiencing a setback during his rehab.
The Braves, for their part, think it may just be inflammation; Beachy experienced similar problems during his rehabilitation in June. At that time, Beachy paused his rehab until the inflammation subsided. At the very least, a similar time-out may be necessary for the 26-year-old this time around as well.
Speculating too much on Beachy's outlook is dangerous given how little information we've been given so far, but Beachy owners should be on high alert for more concrete details in the coming days.
Grilli Getting Closer
In keeping with the theme of pitchers with arm troubles, Jason Grilli is moving closer to rejoining the Pirates.
Grilli threw off a mound on Thursday for the first time since suffering a strained right flexor tendon on July 22. At the time of the injury, Grilli was given a 4-to-8 week timeframe for his return, leaving some to wonder whether he would be back with the Pirates in 2013.
That question seems to be out the window now, as Grilli is just a few steps from returning to the Bucs. He'll likely throw at least one or two more bullpen sessions in the coming weeks, and if all goes well he could be on a short rehab assignment by the start of September. That timetable would put him back in Pittsburgh in early September, just in time for the home stretch.
Unlike and elbow or shoulder, a forearm strain is not likely to have many lingering effects once Grilli does return. Owners would be wise to stash the 36-year-old in those leagues where Grilli was given a premature evacuation.
National League Quick Hits: Matt Cain "will be all right" after being hit in the right arm with a line drive on Thursday. He shouldn't miss a start due to the injury ... Ryan Howard (knee) is not expected to return in 2013. He began baseball activities on Thursday ... Edward Mujica is dealing with a knot in his upper back, but there doesn't appear to be any structural damage. The ailment shouldn't be a long-term concern ... Wandy Rodriguez will visit Dr. James Andrews next week after feeling more pain in his left forearm during a simulated game on Thursday. At this point, his odds of returning in 2013 are slim ... Starling Marte (finger) sat out a fourth consecutive game on Thursday. He's slowly but surely getting closer to returning to the lineup ... Jason Heyward (jaw) isn't expected to return before the end of the regular season. The original 4-to-6 week time frame lent some hope, but his agent nixed the idea that Heyward could return in September. Redraft owners can drop Heyward at will ... Tyler Chatwood (elbow) and Roy Oswalt (hamstring) both threw three innings of a simulated game on Thursday. Both are likely to make rehab starts in the near future, with an eye on returning to the Rockies in early September ... Giants placed Andres Torres on the DL with a left Achilles strain. He seems likely to miss the remainder of the season ... Bobby Parnell (neck), however, remains optimistic about returning this year ... Dan Uggla (eye surgery) will need only one or two rehab games before being activated on August 28 ... Brian Wilson pitched a scoreless ninth inning in his debut with the Dodgers on Thursday ... Daisuke Matsuzaka, just days after being released by the pitching-deficient Indians, will start for the Mets on Friday.
American League Quick Hits: The A's acquired Kurt Suzuki from the Nationals. With the A's catching woes, Suzuki could start early and often and is worth considering in AL-only leagues ... David DeJesus is likely to end up with the Rays after being claimed off waivers by Tampa Bay ... Melky Cabrera (knee) is not expected to return this season ... the White Sox recalled Leury Garcia from Triple-A Charlotte. Garcia didn't get a chance to make his White Sox debut in their game against the Royals on Thursday ... Oswaldo Arcia felt some pain in his wrist while taking batting practice on Thursday. He'll likely be another few days before returning to the Twins lineup ... Rays signed Delmon Young to a minor league contract. You can return to not caring about Delmon Young now.
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- Rafael Betancourt
- Tommy John surgery
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