The Indians’ rotation depth has been tested already, and they could now be facing another injury. Right-hander Aaron Civale exited tonight with two outs in the fifth inning with an injury to his right middle finger. The Score’s Travis Sawchik notes, via Twitter, that the medical staff was testing the mobility of Civale’s finger as opposed to looking at a potential blister. There’s no official diagnosis, but for a Cleveland club that already has Shane Bieber (shoulder strain) and Zach Plesac (fractured hand) on the injured list, any injury scare for the club’s most proven starter is particularly noteworthy.
Cleveland has cycled through myriad young options in hopes of churning out another quality starter, as they’ve seemingly been able to do at will in recent years. However, each of Triston McKenzie, Sam Hentges, Logan Allen, Eli Morgan and Jean Carlos Mejia has an ERA north of 6.00 after multiple starts. Swingman Cal Quantrill gave the Indians a much-needed five innings of shutout ball his last time out but hasn’t had much success overall in four starts. The Indians are still nine games over .500 despite those injuries and an offense that ranks among the worst in MLB (88 wRC+), but it’ll be increasingly difficult to maintain that standing if questions about the rotation continue to mount.
More news from the division…
- Twins center fielder Byron Buxton just returned from the injured list, but he exited tonight’s game against the Reds after five innings. Buxton was hit by a pitch on the left hand in his prior at-bat and played a couple innings of defense before ultimately exiting the game. Minnesota has won four straight games and can ill afford to lose Buxton if the team wants to cling to any faint hope of clawing its way back into the race. It stands to reason that the club would likely have Buxton undergo x-rays, even if his removal were deemed precautionary. They’ll presumably have an update after the game on Buxton, who is 4-for-10 with a homer and a double since returning from the IL two days ago.
- The Twins have shut down top pitching prospect Jhoan Duran due to an elbow strain, president of baseball operations Derek Falvey told reporters (Twitter link via Do-Hyoung Park of MLB.com). He’s undergoing imaging to determine the severity of the issue. Minnesota has been attempting to weather injury troubles for two of its top three starters (Kenta Maeda, Michael Pineda) while getting awful results from fourth and fifth starters J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker. The Twins’ miserable rotation performance is perhaps the primary reason for their surprisingly poor record, and an injury to Duran would rob the club of a high-profile prospect who entered the season as a candidate to make his MLB debut this summer. Duran ranked as the game’s No. 83 prospect at The Athletic and No. 86 at FanGraphs, but he’s been limited to just 16 innings this season. Duran allowed one run with a 14-to-3 K/BB ratio in his first seven innings but has since been tagged for eight runs on 11 hits and an alarming 10 walks in nine innings.
- The White Sox are without Nick Madrigal for the remainder of the season, and while it appears they’re exploring the market for infield help, they’re also taking some looks at creative in-house options. Third base prospect Jake Burger is getting some work at second base in Triple-A, writes Vinnie Duber of NBC Sports Chicago. Burger, 25, is in the midst of his first season since 2017 after a pair of Achilles injuries wiped out his 2018 and 2019 campaigns. The 2017 first-rounder has left little doubt that he’s a talented hitter, batting .277/.320/.555 with eight homers, 12 doubles and a triple in 147 plate appearances in his first in-game action after a three-year layoff. The 6’2″, 230-pound Burger would be one of the larger players you’d see at second base, but manager Tony La Russa notes to Duber that with Yoan Moncada hitting so well at the hot corner, at-bats there won’t be easy to come by if Burger’s bat does force its way to the big leagues: “I think it’s really smart, and it’s smarter if you do it down there where it’s not such a microscope. … I like that they’re exposing him to second base down there.”