Betts and Machado Go Down, Kimbrel Keeps Struggling, Pirates Rookie Popping Off, More

The Dodgers and the Padres were dealt pretty substantial blows this weekend, and a trio of rookies made their way onto the highlight reels on Sunday.

Pair of NL West Stars Hurt

The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres are neck and neck in the race for the top spot in the NL West with the Dodgers just a half-game ahead of the Friars entering play today, but both teams were dealt a big blow in the injury department this weekend.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts broke the news to the media late Saturday night that Mookie Betts will be heading to the IL with a cracked rib revealed by an MRI this weekend after a collision in the outfield with Cody Bellinger.

“It’s a cracked rib so you’re going to feel sore,” Betts said Sunday. “But after the play, the next inning it started hurting. I thought it was just a little bruise or something. So I tried to play through it and it got worse over the next couple of days and now we’re sitting here.”

Mookie was red-hot in May (1.157 OPS) but has struggled at the dish in June with just one hit in his last 39 at-bats (.077) and a .523 OPS this month. Perhaps a trip to the IL might be a blessing in disguise for Betts. When asked about a timeline for his return this weekend Betts is convinced that he’ll be back sooner than later.

 “I’ll be out for a couple of weeks, but then I’ll be back to help the team win. I’m not disappointed.”

Meanwhile, in San Diego, Manny Machado suffered an ugly-looking ankle injury while trying to beat out an infield dribbler on Sunday afternoon in Colorado.

Machado was absolutely lighting it up for San Diego before the injury with a .945 OPS, 163 wRC+, 12 home runs, and 4.3 fWAR. Machado’s career-best fWAR was 7.0 in 2018 when he split time between Baltimore and Los Angeles. Machado has already amassed more fWAR than he did the entire 2021 season for the Padres.

X-Rays came back negative last night and it appears that the injury is an ankle sprain that will cost Machado a few weeks on the IL in what was shaping up to be an MVP caliber season for the Padres third baseman.

The injury to Machado might create an opportunity for CJ Abrams, MLB Pipelines No. 6 prospect, who was pulled from Triple-A El Paso’s lineup last night. Abrams is slashing .395/.422/.591 in June and hitting .314 with seven home runs and 28 RBI in 30 games with El Paso this season.

The Craig Kimbrel Experience Isn’t Going Well in LA

Imagine trading a steady producer at the dish like AJ Pollock for Craig Kimbrel, only for Kimbrel to come in and stink it up. It’s almost as bad as trading Nick Madrigal and Codi Heuer for Kimbrel for him to come in during a pennant race and stink it up.

I’m not bitter. Not at all.

But, Dodgers fans might be soon. Kimbrel blew another save on Sunday against the Guardians and is pitching to the tune of a 4.71 ERA this season. But let’s be honest here; other than a good second half in 2020 and first-half with the Cubs last year, Kimbrel has stunk it up for years. Since leaving Boston after the 2018 season, Kimbrel has posted ERAs of 6.53, 5.28, 2.26, and 4.71.

Despite Kimbrel’s gaudy ERA and nearly-five walk rate, Dave Roberts seems content with him in the closer role in LA for the time being anyway.

“I think we’re a way’s from that point,” Roberts said when asked if other relievers would get an opportunity as the closer. “Obviously we’ve used Hudson, Phillips, and Graterol in different roles, but as far as specifically the closer role, Craig is our closer.

“I just think there are so many good throws in there and right now there’s a little, if something can go wrong, it does. Certainly, the walks in there at times isn’t ideal, but there’s a lot of soft contact and the stuff is still real. The fastball when it’s in the strike zone is great.”

Odds and Ends…

  • Jack Suwinski had himself an afternoon on Sunday! The Pirates rookie hit three home runs, including the walk-off, to give Pittsburgh the victory on Father’s Day!
  • And the Pirates will have another rookie, consensus top-ten shortstop prospect Oneil Cruz, debut against the Cubs later tonight.
  • J.J. Matijevic picked up his first career hit on Sunday against the White Sox, an oppo taco home run into the Crawford Boxes at Minute Maid Park. Matijevic’s home run put the Astros up 2-0, and they would end up beating the Sox and taking two of three in their weekend series.
  • Jerar Encarnacion joined Matijevic in the players picking up their first big league bomb on Sunday.
  • Encarnacion not only hit a grand slam for the Marlins but also stole a base and threw out Thomas Nido at second base from the right field warning track. Not a bad afternoon for the rookie!

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