Around the Major Leagues: 2013 Week 9

Updates on the major news across Major League Baseball during the ninth week of the season. Domonic Brown and Jason Castro are league Players of the Week.

AL East

- Clay Buchholz has been a revelation in Boston this season.  Off a disappointing 2012 season where the Texas native saw his earned-run average elevate to 4.56 with 25 surrendered home runs in a disappointing season for the Red Sox, Buchholz is a perfect 7-0 with a 1.73 earned-run average over 10 starts.  That’s why Boston fans hope that Buchholz’s missed start against the Phillies on Monday night is a one-time thing.  According to the Boston Herald, the right-hander woke up with irritation in a joint near his collarbone and was listed as day-to-day.  Alfredo Aceves was called up to take his spot against Philadelphia. 

- Anyone surprised by Fernando Rodney’s drop in production from his 0.60 earned-run average over 74.2 innings last year with 48 saves in 50 opportunities may want to double check his career numbers.  Lowering his ERA below 4.24 for the first time since 2006, Rodney was brilliant in 2012 with impeccable control.  All of that has deteriorated thus far in 2013, as the right-hander has surpassed his 15 walks last season (19) in nearly a quarter of the innings pitched, as of May 28.  Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times explains how Rodney remains confident, despite his struggles.

- Starter Michael Pineda has yet to make his first appearance in a major league game for the Yankees after the now disappointing deal (for both sides) that sent catching prospect Jesus Montero to the Mariners.  Recently sidetracked with a cracked nail in what was supposed to be his final extended spring training start, the New York Post reported that the pitcher would likely wait five-to-seven days before resuming throwing.  At that point, Pineda would be ready for a 30-day rehab stint before making his debut for New York. 

AL Central

- Kansas City’s hot start has hit a sour note.  With a 4-1 loss against the Cardinals this past Tuesday, the Royals stretched their home losing streak to 10 games and counting.  The streak matches a franchise record, which was set last year according to the Kansas City Star.  The Royals will need to turn their home woes around if the team wants to get back into contention for a Wild Card spot. 

- George Brett is back in a Royals uniform.  The Hall of Famer has joined the Royals as a hitting coach in attempt to resurrect the offense that has disappeared from Kansas City.  The Kansas City Star reported that the move comes with the Royals ranking 12th in scoring among American League teams at 3.98 runs per game.

AL West 

- Not all is bad offensively in HoustonJason Castro was awarded American League Player of the Week for the period ending on May 26.  The Astros catcher hit .579 with three home runs and five RBI, leading the majors in batting average, slugging percentage (1.105) and on-base percentage (.636).

- Dr. Lewis Yocum, longtime team physician of the Angels and known throughout baseball, passed away last weekend at the age of 65.  Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times had a nice write-up on Dr. Yocum here. 

- A sight for sore eyes, Jered Weaver took the mound for the Angels for the first time since fracturing his left elbow on April 7.  The ace wasted no time in asserting his dominance, as Weaver fanned seven Dodgers batters with no walks over six innings.  Weaver claimed his first win of the season by issuing just one run.

- It took a .205 batting average and a .519 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) through late-May for the Mariners to finally demote Dustin Ackley.  The former top prospect has disappointed since hitting .273 with a .348 on-base percentage during his rookie season in 2011.  Ackley was demoted to make way for Nick Franklin, another top infield prospect in the Mariners system.  Franklin was hitting .324 with 13 extra-bases for Triple-A Tacoma. 

- Another demoted Mariner, catcher Jesus Montero, will not be able to resume his plan to learn first base for at least four and perhaps as much as six weeks. The former Yankees prospect suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee in just his seventh game with Tacoma.

NL East 

- 2013 will be a lost season for Miami, as several prospects have received playing time with more to come.  All news isn’t bad, as the Marlins will soon be receiving the help of first baseman Logan Morrison and pitcher Nate Eovaldi.  Morrison started his rehab assignment in Jacksonville on Tuesday, while Eovaldi is set to join the Marlins rotation the week of June 9, according to the Palm Beach Post.

- The impending promotion of Zach Wheeler has received nearly as much attention in New York as Matt Harvey’s epic start to the season.  According to the New York Post, Wheeler could join the Mets between June 6-11 if everything goes well for the right-hander.  Once promoted, Wheeler and Harvey would give the Mets a dynamic one-two young punch in the rotation. 

- Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman didn’t only make headlines with his three-home run night on Wednesday against the Orioles; the slugger made history.  The Baltimore Sun reported that the Nationals third baseman became the first player ever to blast three bombs in the same game at Camden Yards.

- The top picks in the 2009 and 2010 drafts, respectively, the NationalsStephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, are both on the shelf. Harper is banged up from head to toe (or at least kee) and after going on the disabled list Sunday, the outfielder admitted he should have done so when first injured crashing into the wall on April 29. Strasburg appears to have just a “slight strain” in his right side after leaving Friday’s game after just two innings. The Nats, currently 6 ½ games back of Atlanta, hope their ace can avoid DL time. 

- Domonic Brown of the Philadelphia Phillies blasted his way to Player of the Week honors for the period ending on May 26.  The outfielder hit two home runs, a triple, two doubles, and drove in seven runs with a .348 batting average on the week.  At the time, Brown led the Phillies in home runs with 10.

NL Central 

- Initially, the 4-year, $52 million deal struck between the Chicago Cubs and pitcher Edwin Jackson looked to be a reasonable pairing over the offseason, though the team wasn’t likely to compete over the next two-to-three seasons.  So far, Jackson’s start has been anything but worthy of the contract.  Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune outlines the right-hander’s struggles so far and how Jackson has dealt with them here.

- Ryan Zimmerman wasn’t the only batter to snag headlines this week with a power display.  Dioner Navarro lifted three balls out of Wrigley Field, doubling the home run total for the Cubs catcher on the season.  Not bad for a back-up catcher. 

- While things remain stagnant (or worse) in Milwaukee, Brewers fans have to find something positive to talk about.  Normally, the Brewers farm system wouldn’t be part of that topic.  Michael Hunt of the Journal Sentinel writes that the Brewers minor league system might not be as bad as one thinks.

- Shortstop Jean Segura isn’t slowing down.  The Brewers young star became just the third player in Milwaukee Brewers history to collect six hits in a game (research done by the Journal Sentinel) after singling six times in an extra-inning loss to the Twins. 

- Top St. Louis Cardinals prospect Michael Wacha made his MLB debut Thursday night and pitched brilliantly, allowing just two hits and a run over seven innings. However former closer Mitchell Boggs blew the save in the ninth as Kansas City salvaged the final game of their I-70 Series. A top set-up man in MLB last season, the struggling Boggs was sent to Triple-A following the game.

NL West 

- Tyler Skaggs has been a central name around the Diamondbacks and the plethora of pitching prospects that have surrounded the team in recent years.  Skaggs finally has the opportunity to make a name for himself on the major league level after the left-hander was promoted to make his debut against the Texas Rangers on Memorial Day.  If his debut was any indication (six shutout innings, nine strikeouts, zero walks), Skaggs’ name will start to circulate quite frequently around baseball.

- When Todd Helton’s career is finally over in Colorado, his struggles during the 2013 season won’t be the focus on his Hall of Fame-worthy career.  That won’t stop Denver writers from speculating about his struggles, as the first baseman’s batting average dropped to .225 as of May 28.  Following Tuesday, Troy Renck of the Denver Post wrote about Helton and his disappointing season here. 

- The Rockies lost a key contributor when closer Rafael Betancourt was forced onto the 15-day disabled list with a strained right groin. The right-hander has 11 saves this season.

- It was a bad week for NL West closers as San Diego’s Huston Street also hit the DL. It is a less-severe recurrence of a strained left calf muscle that sidelined him for three weeks last season. 

- It didn’t take long for Yasmani Grandal to start a game since returning from the 50-game suspension following a failed performance-enhancing drug test last season.  The Padres catcher was in the lineup against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday and went 1-for-4 in his return.

- The Dodgers made big news across baseball on Sunday by calling up spring training phenom Yasiel Puig from Double-A. The outfielder and Cuban native is expected to be an every-day player for Los Angeles, at least as long as star Matt Kemp remains on the disabled list. 

Pierce Jefferson can be reached via email at Follow him on twitter (@MLBPJ).

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