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The tunnel was a short one for the Mets, and the light at the end of it is shining bright.
Staring down a season-altering layoff like the Marlins and Cardinals endured in the wake of positive COVID-19 cases, the Mets instead appear to have dodged a bullet and are set to resume their season Tuesday with a doubleheader against those same Marlins. The teams will play a pair of seven-inning games at Citi Field, the Mets' first games since last Wednesday.
It was then that the team had two positive COVID tests, throwing their immediate future into flux. The final game of last week's series against the Marlins was postponed, as was the entirety of their weekend series against the cross-town Yankees.
Those two tests have remained the only two positive cases reported on the Mets, though, making their situation unlike that of the Marlins and Cardinals, both of which saw a few positives blossom into an outbreak that affected multiple members of the active roster. Only one of the Mets' two positives was a player, it's been reported, though that player has not yet been identified by the club.
“What we’re all learning is that this virus continues to have a lot more questions for us than answers,” Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said. “We do feel comfortable that the spread has not come from player to player or coach to coach. At this point, our best guess is that it came from some outside spot. But that is simply that -- it’s a guess. At this point, we just don’t know and we may never know.”
That's not the only unknown as the Mets come out of the short layoff. The team has not yet made public its pitching plans for the coming days, which will include playing nine games in six days. Whether the afflicted player is a fantasy-relevant one will also be of interest to fantasy managers.
The only real actionable advice -- outside of possibly streaming good pitching matchups if and when the Mets, Marlins and Yankees announce their plans for the upcoming doubleheaders -- is to be sure to get those teams' hitters into your lineups ahead of those busy days.
Braves Prospect Anderson Set For Debut?
It was a pitching prospect party last week, and the Braves are set to show up fashionably late.
Though the team has not yet confirmed it, MLB.com Braves beat writer Mark Bowman believes pitching prospect Ian Anderson will make his major league debut Tuesday against the Yankees. Braves manager Brian Snitker has not yet announced a probable starter for the game.
The team has made moves in recent days to rule out potential starters for the game. Struggling young right-hander Kyle Wright was set to the team's alternate training site on Thursday, and up-and-down starter Touki Toussaint was moved to the bullpen after giving up four runs in three innings against the Nationals last Monday. Toussaint pitched in relief in Sunday night's loss to the Phillies.
That likely leaves Anderson, who has been on top-100 prospect lists since he was the No. 3 overall draft pick of the Braves in 2016. Anderson ranked as the No. 44 prospect in baseball coming into this season by Baseball America, the No. 37 prospect by MLB.com and the No. 38 prospect by Baseball Prospectus.
Anderson boasts three good pitches, with his mid-90s fastball leading the way. The right-hander also throws a curve and a changeup to work off the fastball, and in 135 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A last season Anderson struck out 172 batters with the wicked arsenal.
There's a but, though, and it's this: even if Anderson is promoted to start Tuesday, it has the potential to go poorly. The Yankees have made plenty of major league pitchers look mortal this year, let alone a 22-year-old making his first MLB start. Anderson certainly has long-term value and could even have near-term value in redraft leagues, but Tuesday may be a situation to avoid for fantasy players.
It's all just speculation at this point, so be sure to check the Player News page later today to get the latest on the situation.
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Trade Winds Start to Blow
With the trade deadline a week from yesterday, the winds have begun to pick up as the haves and have-nots exchange player names and terms.
Late Monday it was reported by Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com that the Blue Jays were showing some interest in Pirates starters Trevor Williams and Chad Kuhl. The Jays lost another rotation member recently when Matt Shoemaker went on the injured list with what turned out to be a lat strain, and they're also without starter Trent Thornton and top prospect Nate Pearson for at least the near future.
Williams had a terrific 3.11 ERA in a 14-win 2018 season before regressing last year, but he's come out of the gate with a 3.70 ERA in five starts this year. Kuhl recently picked up his first win since that 2018 season and has notched a 2.84 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 19/7 K/BB ratio in 19 innings of work this year. He missed all of 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Both pitchers are under team control through the 2021 season.
Morosi also mentions the Angels as a team that could fill some of the Jays' needs, and earlier Monday it was reported that one of those Angels, starter Dylan Bundy, has been the subject of "numerous inquiries" already, per USA Today's Bob Nightengale. Nightengale says the Halos are "open for business" as they sit at 9-21 following Monday night's lopsided loss to the Astros.
Bundy, of course, has always been a talent but hasn't really put it all together as well as he has through this season's first month. The 27-year-old stumbled his last time out but is still the owner of a 2.58 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 44/8 K/BB ratio through his first six starts.
Another popular name in the coming days could be Taijuan Walker, who's pitching well -- and staying on the mound -- for the Mariners this year. Walker, who signed a prove-it one-year, $2 million contract this past February, holds a 4.00 ERA and 1.07 WHIP with 25 strikeouts in 27 innings of work to date. Over the weekend, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal noted the M's were "getting hits" on Walker and other members of their organization.
Also on Saturday, MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported Royals closer Trevor Rosenthal is "one of the hottest names" on the trade market. The hard-throwing reliever has put himself back on the map this year with a 1.59 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 15/5 K/BB ratio across 11 1/3 innings this season.
National League Quick Hits: Charlie Blackmon was scratched from the Rockies' lineup on Monday due to left quad tightness. This sounds like a day-to-day type of issue for Blackmon, who has put up a sensational .405/.442/.568 batting line with three home runs, 24 RBI, and 19 runs scored through 28 games played here in 2020 ... Diamondbacks placed RHP Merrill Kelly on the 10-day injured list with a right shoulder impingement. Kelly was supposed to start for the Diamondbacks on Monday night against the Rockies, but he got scratched moments before first pitch and has now landed on the IL. This is a bad loss for Arizona, as the 31-year-old right-hander has registered a sharp 2.59 ERA, 0.989 WHIP, and 29/5 K/BB ratio in 31 1/3 innings (five starts) this season. There is no timetable at this point for his return to the D-backs' starting rotation ... Jose Quintana (thumb) will pitch out of the Cubs' bullpen upon his return from the injured list on Tuesday. Tyler Chatwood (back) is also going to be activated on Tuesday and will start that night's game against the Tigers. Quintana has been sidelined all season after requiring surgery back in early July for a deep cut in his left thumb. He should eventually slide into the rotation but is set to operate in a non-fantasy-relevant long relief role initially. The 31-year-old had a 4.68 ERA and 152/46 K/BB ratio in 171 innings (31 starts) in 2019 ... Jack Flaherty delivered another terrific performance in Monday’s victory over the Royals, allowing just one hit over five shutout innings. The right-hander punched out three on the night and didn’t walk a batter. He threw 64 pitches in the ballgame – 41 of them for strikes. The only hit against him was a two-out double by Meibrys Viloria in the third inning. Flaherty has continued where he left off from his other-worldly second half in 2019, compiling a 1.98 ERA, 0.73 WHIP and 12/2 K/BB ratio across 13 2/3 innings in his first three starts. He should be able to work a little deeper his next time out, when he takes on the Indians at home on Saturday ... Javier Baez smacked a pair of homers and drove in three runs on Monday, helping to power the Cubs to a 9-3 victory over the Tigers. Baez crushed a two-run shot off of Tigers’ left-hander Tyler Alexander in the fourth inning, extending the Cubs’ lead to 6-1 – snapping a 19-game homerless drought. He then tacked on a solo shot off of John Schreiber in the ninth to make it a 7-3 ballgame. Baez also singled in the contest, finishing the night 3-for-5. He’s off to a rough start at the dish overall this season, slashing .219/.265/.419 with five homers, 13 RBI and one stolen base.
American League Quick Hits: Charlie Morton (shoulder) will throw a 25-pitch bullpen session Tuesday. Morton wasn't able to return when he was first eligible over the weekend, but he continues to make progress. We should know more about an exact timetable coming out of the bullpen session. The veteran right-hander hasn't pitched since August 9 due to inflammation in his pitching shoulder ... X-rays turned up negative on George Springer's left elbow. Springer took a Jacob Barnes fastball off his elbow in the sixth inning of Monday night's game against the Angels and was removed, but it would appear that the star outfielder has dodged a serious injury. Houston is scheduled to play a doubleheader versus the Halos on Tuesday, so there should be more on Springer's status soon. Myles Straw replaced him in the Astros' lineup on Monday ... Randal Grichuk made an early exit from Monday's game against the Rays due to lower back tightness. His removal is being called "precautionary," so this wouldn't seem to be an overly concerning issue. Grichuk finished the day 2-for-4 with a go-ahead three-run homer in the top of the seventh inning ... Danny Duffy will likely miss Wednesday's scheduled start due to left forearm fatigue. There's some hope that Duffy could be ready on Friday, but that will likely depend on how he feels over the next couple of days. The Royals could use an opener on Wednesday or possibly have Jakob Junis (back) return in a limited fashion ... Jordan Romano earned his second save of the season in the Blue Jays' 6-4 defeat of the Rays on Monday. Romano gave up a leadoff single to Manuel Margot and a one-out walk to Austin Meadows, but he rallied to strike out Brandon Lowe and induce a game-ending groundout from Yandy Diaz. Romano boasts a dominant 0.64 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 14 innings of work this season and seems to have taken over as the preferred closer for Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo. He's a better fantasy option than Anthony Bass at the moment ... Framber Valdez racked up a career-high 11 strikeouts over seven innings in Monday’s victory over the Angels. The left-hander allowed four runs on six hits and a pair of walks on the night. He threw 113 pitches – 75 of them for strikes. The Halos scratched out a run against him in the second inning, then he served up a solo shot to Justin Upton in the fourth. The added two more in the sixth on a pair of run-scoring singles, but the Astros’ offense provided more than enough support to overcome that. Valdez has been a life-saver for the Astros this season, compiling a 2.35 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 40/9 K/BB ratio over 38 1/3 innings. He’ll take on the Athletics his next time out at home on Saturday ... Kenta Maeda pitched five innings of one-run ball and struck out seven Monday in the Twins' 3-2 win over the Indians. The Twins went easy on Maeda tonight after the near no-hitter pushed him up to 115 pitches last time out. He threw 83 pitches in this one, and he's come in between 80-85 in all five of his other starts this season. The light workload has definitely helped a bit as he's compiled a 4-0 record and a 2.21 ERA ... Thursday's scheduled game between the Angels and Astros has been moved to Tuesday as a result of Tropical Storm Laura. Tropical Storm Laura threatens to wreak havoc on the Houston area later this week, so Major League Baseball has opted to stage a doubleheader between the two clubs on Tuesday instead. Also, the scheduled 8:10 p.m. CT game on Wednesday has been moved up to 12:10 p.m. CT. This could obviously affect the pitching plans for both the Angels and the Astros. Griffin Canning had been slated to start Thursday.