Pittsburgh star and defending NL MVP Andrew McCutchen (rib) is expected back Tuesday, when first eligible. That's lovely. But what will Clint Hurdle do with his complicated outfield?
McCutchen and Starling Marte are both going to play, of course. After that, it's a case for a couple of lefties, Gregory Polanco and Travis Snider. Polanco is this year's hot Pittsburgh prospect, while Snider - still just 26 - was a hotshot rookie in Toronto a few seasons back.
Polanco's initial run hasn't gone as well as expected. He's posted decent category juice through 61 games (12 steals, six homers), but a .245/.313/.355 slash line leaves you cold. He's been especially mediocre since the break, posting a .229/.268/.364 line over the past month. Polanco's also batting .156 against lefties.
Snider is at .268 for the year, with 10 homers in 228 at-bats. He's on a .329/.386/.632 binge since the break. The southpaws haven't bothered him (through a limited sample): 9-for-27, .519 slugging.
Sometimes these jumbled situations have a way of working themselves out. Perhaps someone else will get into a funk, or McCutchen's return won't go as smoothly as hoped. Hurdle's a quirky manager, though he's been a little more conventional in Pittsburgh than he was in Colorado. I'm not dropping my Snider shares until I see a few days of how this plays out.
• Trevor Rosenthal is in a major funk, but the Cardinals keep finding ways to bail him out. His last three appearances have turned into St. Louis victories, wins that came despite Rosenthal's ugly line (4 H, 4 R, 6 BB, 3 K) and control problems.
Mike Matheny continues to back his struggling closer, but you wonder where the breaking point is. Rosenthal's walked 34 men over 57.1 innings, along with a 3.61 ERA and 1.45 WHIP.
Seth Maness and Pat Neshek are the logical hedges, with Neskek the name I prefer. He's in the midst of a silly season (0.86 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, six walks against 57 strikeouts) and he's mowing down batters from both sides of the plate. Maness has been more of a pitch-to-contact story: 2.86 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 10 walks and 41 strikeouts over 63 innings.
Neshek is owned in 25 percent of Yahoo leagues, while Maness is available just about everywhere. Place your bets, save chaser.
• The Red Sox have taken another U-turn with their outfield situation. Jackie Bradley Jr. was optioned to Triple-A on Monday, with Mookie Betts returning to The Hub. Betts reached base twice in Monday's loss to the Angels, scoring one run.
Bradley was a terrific defender all year, but nothing at the plate (.216/.288/.290, 111 strikeouts). Betts crushed his way through two levels of the minors (.346/.431/.529, 11 homers, 33 steals); it was surprising he returned to Pawtucket after a brief 13-game trial in Boston. He's waiting for your add in 93 percent of Yahoo leagues, and might be a difference-maker down the stretch. Keep in mind Betts has shortstop eligibility, in addition to the outfield.
• There are holes in Oswaldo Arcia's game, and holes in his swing, but if you're simply looking for a power play, maybe he can help you. He's homered 26 times over 599 MLB at-bats, including four clouts in the last week. Here's a look at the latest one, a mammoth shot from Monday that left the park in a hurry.
Arcia has a .242/.305/.432 slash for his career and he doesn't run at all, we concede that up front. But if you steer him to right-handed opponents, you'll find an .827 OPS this season (Monday's homer, mind you, came against a lefty). The Twins face five righties over their next seven games, though two of those matchups are slated for a Saturday doubleheader. Arcia is owned in just four percent of Yahoo leagues.