Going into Wednesday, Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp had been absent from five straight starting lineups. Not because of a new injury, but because he couldn’t be trusted in center field as he continues to limp his way back from offseason ankle surgery.
Kemp’s situation has improved greatly in the last 36 hours.
Carl Crawford suffered a nasty left ankle sprain while chasing after a Chris Heisey line drive in the left field corner on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium and was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday afternoon. Kemp drew the start in left field in Wednesday night’s series finale with the Reds -- his first start in left field since he was a rookie in 2006 -- and is expected to be the Dodgers’ regular option there until Crawford returns. Perhaps even after Crawford returns.
Kemp doesn’t quite have the burst that he did a few years ago -- and that’s most evident when he is trying to cover ground in the outfield -- but the 29-year-old is still a big fantasy producer when he’s in the lineup on a regular basis. Kemp has five home runs and five stolen bases this season despite starting only 35 games. Give him another chance in mixed leagues.
Gorgeous George Continues To Shine
The Astros won their fifth consecutive game on Wednesday in Kansas City -- sweeping a three-game set with the host Royals -- as rookie sensation George Springer continued his month of dominance. The 24-year-old right fielder hit a two-run homer in the top of the first inning off Royals starter Danny Duffy and then later drew two walks, finishing the afternoon with a rapidly-improving .361 batting average.
Springer’s OPS was .480 at the end of a sluggish April. Now it’s .872 and rising fast.
The former first-round pick was called up to the majors on April 16 after batting .353/.459/.647 over his first 13 games of the year at Triple-A Oklahoma City. He hit .303/.411/.600 with 37 home runs, 108 RBI, and 45 stolen bases in 135 games last season between the Double-A and Triple-A levels. It seemed impossible just a few weeks ago, but Springer might give Masahiro Tanaka a run for 2014 Rookie of the Year honors in the American League.
La Stella, Braves Roc-A-Fella
The Braves were blanked in Wednesday’s 4-0 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park but newcomer Tommy La Stella had a productive game, going 2-for-4 in what was his major league debut.
The 25-year-old had his contract purchased Wednesday afternoon from Triple-A Gwinnett and he is expected to get a shot at Atlanta’s starting second base gig with Dan Uggla yet again struggling. La Stella was a .322/.407/.474 career hitter in the minor leagues and may be of use in NL-only fantasy formats. Unfortunately he has no power and only mediocre speed, so he’s not going to offer much in the way of value for standard mixed leaguers. La Stella, an eighth-round pick of the Braves in 2011, tallied 21 home runs in 24 stolen bases in 288 minor league games.
Darvish Doesn’t Need Disabled List
Rangers manager Ron Washington offered good news Wednesday on the status of Rangers ace Yu Darvish, who had to be scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday at Minnesota’s Target Field due to stiffness in his neck -- something that he also dealt with in spring training. “He’s on schedule for Sunday,” Washington told Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth-Star Telegram. “There’s one thing about Yu Darvish: If he’s not 100 percent, he’ll let us know.”
That outing Sunday would be in Washington, D.C. against the host Nationals. Darvish owns a 2.35 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 71/19 K/BB ratio through 61 1/3 innings (nine starts) this season for Texas.
National League Quick Hits: Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams is day-to-day with mild calf tightness … Tim Lincecum tossed five no-hit innings before being lifted with a pitch count of 96 on Wednesday against the Cubs … Ryan Howard slugged a walkoff three-run home run to lift the Phillies over the Rockies on Wednesday night ... Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud (concussion) will be activated from the disabled list on Thursday … Henderson Alvarez was pulled after five scoreless innings Wednesday night against the Nationals due to stiffness in his right elbow … Ryan Zimmerman (thumb) took a full round of batting practice and fielded grounders on Wednesday afternoon … Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong went 4-for-5 in Wednesday night’s loss to the Yankees and is now hitting .381 in 42 at-bats since returning to the major league level … Bartolo Colon struck out nine batters over 7 2/3 scoreless innings Wednesday in the Mets’ defeat of the Pirates … Nationals outfielder Nate McLouth went 4-for-4 with a walk and a stolen base in Wednesday’s loss to the Marlins … Brett Anderson (finger) is on track to rejoin the Rockies’ starting rotation around the first week of July … Justin Morneau doubled and homered but the Rockies lost to the Phillies on Wednesday … Cardinals right-hander Shelby Miller was hammered for seven earned runs in five innings Wednesday in a loss to the Yankees … Matt Cain has been cleared to start Saturday against the Cardinals after missing a turn in the Giants’ rotation with a mild hamstring strain … Padres left fielder Tommy Medica finished a single away from the cycle in Wednesday night’s loss to the Diamondbacks … Jeurys Familia earned a save Wednesday against the Pirates after tossing 1 2/3 scoreless innings.
American League Quick Hits: According to Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago, the Orioles are the “leading team of interest in the Jeff Samardzija sweepstakes” … Jose Reyes finished 3-for-4 with a run scored in the Blue Jays’ win over the Rays on Wednesday … Orioles outfielder Nelson Cruz slugged his 18th and 19th home runs of the season in Wednesday’s loss to the Brewers … Jason Kipnis went 0-for-4 with a strikeout Wednesday in his first game back from the disabled list … Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen is day-to-day with what’s being called “general soreness” … Xander Bogaerts stayed hot Wednesday, going 3-for-4 with a double and a walk in Boston’s defeat of the Braves … Rays outfielder Wil Myers clubbed a two-run homer in Wednesday’s loss to the Blue Jays … Chris Carter homered twice in the Astros’ defeat of the Royals on Wednesday … Mark Teixeira will undergo an ultrasound Thursday after missing the Yankees’ entire three-game series in St. Louis with soreness in his surgically-repaired right wrist … Angels lefty Sean Burnett was diagnosed with a torn UCL in his pitching elbow and could need a second Tommy John surgery … Jacoby Ellsbury finished 3-for-5 with three RBI and two stolen bases Wednesday in the Yankees’ defeat of the Cardinals … Scott Kazmir notched his first complete game since 2006 in Wednesday’s win over the Tigers … Rays catcher Ryan Hanigan landed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a strained right hamstring … John Lackey tossed 6 1/3 scoreless innings Wednesday in a win over the Braves … Astros reliever Jose Cisnero had successful Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery … Mike Carp is day-to-day with a sore right foot … Jeremy Hellickson (elbow) threw two simulated innings on Wednesday … Johan Santana (shoulder) is nearly ready to join one of the Orioles’ minor league affiliates … Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks is day-to-day with lower back stiffness … Clay Buchholz was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a 7.02 ERA (and a hyperextended left knee) … Josh Donaldson hit a walkoff three-run homer Wednesday to push the A’s past the Tigers.