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Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Yusei Kikuchi (neck) is listed as the team's probable starter on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays. Kikuchi left his last start early on Tuesday against the New York Yankees with a left upper trapezius cramp, but the 32-year-old southpaw later expressed confidence that he could make his next turn through the starting rotation. Toronto needs all hands on deck as they try to lock down one of the last wild-card spots in the American League down the stretch with under 10 regular season games remaining. The Japanese hurler has been solid for the Jays in 2023 with a 3.74 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 170 strikeouts in 158 2/3 innings over 30 starts, and he's been even better in the second half with a 3.03 ERA (2.80 FIP) and 74 K's in 65 1/3 frames over 12 starts.
Detroit Tigers left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (back), who was removed from his last start with a left-back spasm, will throw a bullpen session on Friday to make sure he can start on Sunday against the Oakland Athletics. "We're not anticipating any problems," manager A.J. Hinch said. While pitching through injury on Sept. 18 against the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers, E-Rod allowed five earned runs on five hits (two homers) while walking one and striking out one in just three innings of work. The 30-year-old Venezuelan southpaw will be a little more risky in fantasy coming off the injury, but managers cannot pass up the excellent matchup against the rebuilding A's if they are still vying for a fantasy title.
Toronto Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen (finger) is out of a cast after visiting with his surgeon on Wednesday, although he's now in a splint. His surgery to set and stabilize the bone in his finger has been successful and he can now start doing mobility work with his fingers. However, there's no timeline set for his return just yet. The 28-year-old backstop has been out with a right middle-finger fracture that he suffered when he was hit by a foul ball on Sept. 1. At this point in the season with less than 10 games remaining in the regular season, if Jansen ends up returning at all, it will most likely be if the Blue Jays make it to the postseason as an American League wild-card team. Alejandro Kirk will continue to serve as the team's primary catcher until Jansen is able to return.
Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (knee) entered Thursday's 5-3 loss to the New York Yankees as a pinch-hitter and had an RBI groundout. Guerrero hasn't started the last two games due to right-knee pain, but thankfully an MRI exam ruled out any structural damage, so he should be considered day-to-day heading into Friday's series opener at the Tampa Bay Rays. The Blue Jays can ill-afford to have Vlad Jr. miss much more time as they look to stay in one of the final wild-card spots in the American League to close out the year. Rookie Spencer Horwitz has seen more playing time of late with Guerrero injured. The 24-year-old Guerrero came into Thursday's game hitting .246 (16-for-65) with four home runs, two doubles, 11 RBI and nine runs scored in 17 starts in the final month of the regular season.
Cleveland Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase converted his league-leading 42nd save of the season Thursday, finishing off a 5-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles. Clase allowed a hit and a walk to make things interesting, but struck out a pair in his inning of work to close things out. He now has five more saves than anyone else in the majors, meaning he will almost surely finish at the top of the leaderboard. Although he's had his ups and downs, he has been worth his price as the first reliever taken in drafts this season. He is likely to remain near the top of the board next year, although he may not go first among relievers.
Philadelphia Phillies left-handed pitcher Jose Alvarado notched his ninth save of the season on Thursday, shutting down the New York Mets in a narrow 5-4 victory. Alvarado tossed a scoreless frame, allowing just a hit while striking out a pair. With the heart of the Mets lineup coming up in the eighth, the Phillies elected to go to Craig Kimbrel in the high-leverage spot, leaving Alvarado to handle the ninth. The lefty did end up facing the top of the Mets order after Kimbrel allowed a few baserunners in the eighth, but Alvarado had no trouble with them. The 28-year-old is an interesting deeper-league option that could vulture a save or two in the final week given the Phillies' playoff push and their willingness to use multiple relievers to close out games.
Los Angeles Angels closer Carlos Estevez was unable to close out the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, taking the loss and the blown save in a 5-4 defeat. Estevez was tasked with holding onto a one-run lead, but he wasn't able to convert as he allowed two runs on four hits and a walk over IP. Estevez has been good for the most part this year, but he has been prone to blow-ups on occasion. The righty has allowed either zero or two-plus runs in every outing since the start of August. That is definitely not ideal for managers who need ratio help. He will likely close out the season as the Angels closer, but what happens next year is up in the air.
Atlanta Braves left-handed pitcher Max Fried was solid on Thursday, limiting the Washington Nationals to one run on three hits and a walk over six innings. He struck out seven. Near the end of his start, he had some fluid build up in his left index finger, which was drained after he was taken out. Fried also skipped his last start with a blister on his left hand, so the Braves will likely be cautious with the lefty heading into the playoffs. Fried said he feels confident he can manage the situation, so he could still make what would likely be his final start at some point next week. Fantasy managers should keep a close eye on the situation, as a decision will need to be made on whether to start Fried in the finals.
Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton (knee) went 1-for-4 with an RBI and two strikeouts in his first game back on his rehab assignment with Triple-A St. Paul. Buxton initially began his rehab assignment in late August, but was pulled off after tweaking his knee. It is likely that Minnesota will give the oft-injured outfielder plenty of time to get into game shape, as they have essentially clinched their division. The hope is that Buxton can make it back before the end of the season to get a few games in before the playoffs start, but fantasy managers shouldn't count on much the rest of the way.
Detroit Tigers designated hitter Miguel Cabrera was removed from Thursday's game in the sixth inning after fouling a pitch off his lower leg. There are no signs of a fracture and Cabrera will be re-evaluated after the game. Miggy is in the midst of his final season of baseball, one which will hopefully not end with this injury. It is very likely that even if Cabrera is injured, he will take an at-bat in the team's final game to get one last hoorah. Although he's slowed down the past few years, Miggy has had an inner-circle hall-of-fame caliber career.
The Tampa Bay Rays are calling up top infield prospect Junior Caminero from Double-A Montgomery, according to sources. The 20-year-old will make the jump to the big leagues from Double-A, where he was hitting an impressive .309/.373/.548 with a .921 OPS, 20 home runs, 62 RBI, nine doubles, three triples, three stolen bases and 55 runs scored in 81 games. Between Montgomery and High-A Bowling Green, Caminero has 31 homers, 94 RBI, five stolen bases and 85 runs scored in 510 trips to the plate and 117 games. Caminero has elite bad speed and raw power for his age. It's unclear how much the Rays will play him down the stretch and into the postseason, but most of his playing time will likely come at shortstop with Wander Franco not expected back until sometime in 2024.
Miami Marlins right-hander Sandy Alcantara (forearm) looked good in his minor-league rehab start for Triple-A Jacksonville on Thursday, tossing four scoreless innings while giving up just one hit, walking none and striking out four. Alcantara is attempting to return to the Marlins after suffering a UCL sprain in his right arm. The Fish are hoping to get the 2022 National League Cy Young winner back in some capacity down the stretch as they push for the final wild-card spot in the NL. With only 10 days left in the regular season, though, Alcantara may not be able to return in a traditional starting role. He only threw 51 pitches during his rehab outing on Thursday.
The San Francisco Giants placed shortstop Paul DeJong on unconditional release waivers on Thursday and recalled infielders Marco Luciano and Tyler Fitzgerald from Triple-A Sacramento in corresponding moves. Brandon Crawford (hamstring) also went on the 10-day injured list and won't return this year, so expect Luciano and Fitzgerald to split time at the 6 for the Gigantes the rest of the way. The 30-year-old DeJong spent time with the Giants, St. Louis Cardinals and Toronto Blue Jays in 2023, but he wasn't good in any of those stops, hitting a combined .226 (74-for-328) with 14 home runs, 37 RBI, four steals and 41 runs scored in 112 games. In just 18 games in San Francisco, he went 9-for-49 (.184) with a homer, five RBI and two runs scored.
The San Francisco Giants placed shortstop Brandon Crawford (hamstring) on the 10-day injured list on Thursday with a right-hamstring strain, ending his season. Crawford's injury came on Wednesday night. Not only will he miss the rest of the 2023 season, but Wednesday's contest could end up being his final game in San Francisco after 13 seasons with the organization. The Giants also released veteran Paul DeJong, so it will be Marco Luciano and Tyler Fitzgerald likely splitting duties at shortstop in the Bay Area the rest of the way. The 36-year-old Crawford showed he doesn't have a whole lot left in the tank this year, as he hit .197/.276/.319 with seven home runs, 11 doubles, a triple, 38 RBI, three stolen bases and 31 runs scored in 92 games. Crawford will be a free agent this winter.
Milwaukee Brewers LHP Aaron Ashby (shoulder) was transferred to Class AAA Nashville Thursday, Sept. 21, to continue his rehab assignment.
Detroit Tigers LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (shoulder) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Friday, Sept. 22, to see if he will be able to make his scheduled start Sunday, Sept. 24.
Updating a previous report, Cleveland Guardians RHP Triston McKenzie (elbow) is scheduled to return to the active roster Sunday, Sept. 24, according to manager Terry Francona.
Tampa Bay Rays OF Luke Raley (neck, arm) is expected to miss at least a few days after feeling numbness in his arm during an at-bat Wednesday, Sept. 20. It is not known if Raley will need to be placed on the injured list.
Tampa Bay Rays INF Brandon Lowe (knee) left the game early Thursday, Sept. 21, because of a knee injury and is considered day-to-day.
Toronto Blue Jays INF Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (knee) is not on the starting lineup Thursday, Sept. 21, because of knee inflammation and is considered day-to-day. The MRI on his knee did not show any structural damage.
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