DIVISIONAL OUTLOOK: NL East—Heyward hits the DL

 

Atlanta Braves

Jason Heyward (OF, ATL) was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 21, after undergoing an appendectomy. The team is hopeful that he will be able to return in two weeks. In the meantime, Reed Johnson (OF, ATL) and Jordan Schafer (OF, ATL) will platoon in right field. The team has worked with Schafer this spring to tweak his swing and approach at the plate, but time will tell as to whether or not the adjustments stick. So far, he has been inconsistent when it comes to taking that new approach into games, often reverting to old habits. Though Johnson has struggled early in the season (63% ct% and -75 BPV), he has started just two games and totaled a mere 16 AB. Evan Gattis (C/1B/OF, ATL) could possibly see a start or two in left field, but it appears that the team would rather leave Justin Upton (OF, ATL) in left field and use Schafer and Johnson in right field while Heyward is out.

Tyler Pastornicky (SS/2B, ATL), up from Triple-A Gwinnett to take Heyward’s spot on the roster, will be utilized in a bench role.

After modest gains last September (78% ct%, .280 BA and 56 BPV in 82 AB), there was some hope that Dan Uggla (2B, ATL) would rebound this year. That has not been the case through the first 20 games of this season. His ct% (64%), PX (102) and BPV (-11) so far this year are the lowest of his career. If he doesn’t show signs of progress soon, don’t be surprised if Ramiro Pena (INF, ATL) gets occasional starts against right-handed pitching.

 

Miami Marlins

Adeiny Hechavarria (SS, MIA) was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 17, with a bruised right elbow. In his absence, Nick Green (INF, MIA) has started three of four games at shortstop—Chris Valaika (INF, MIA) started the other. Green, 34, owns a .237/.304/.347 slash line with 16 HR and 6 SB in 1,168 career major league AB. There is no official timetable for Hechavarria, but he could miss up to a total of four weeks.

Henderson Alvarez (RHP, MIA), who has been out since March 27 due to mild shoulder inflammation, could pitch in a simulated game this week.  If all goes well, he could return in late April or early May. His return is expected to push Alex Sanabia (RHP, MIA) back to Triple-A. Sanabia has posted a 5.68 xERA, 5.5 Ctl, 4.3 Dom and -48 BPV through four starts spanning 23 IP.

John Maine (RHP, MIA) was designated for assignment on April 19 and replaced on the roster by Tom Koehler (RHP, MIA), who will pitch in long relief. Koehler posted a 3.97 xERA and 124 BPV in 13 IP with the Marlins last year. The 27-year-old posted a 4.17 ERA, 3.6 Ctl and 8.2 Dom in 151 IP at Triple-A New Orleans a year ago. He had a 1.06 ERA, despite 10 BB in 17 IP at Triple-A so far this season.

 

New York Mets

Shaun Marcum (RHP, NYM) threw five scoreless innings in an extended spring training game on April 22 and has been cleared to come off the disabled list to start against the Phillies on April 27. The Mets designated Aaron Laffey (LHP, TOR) for assignment on April 21 (he was claimed by Toronto on April 23) and recalled Robert Carson (LHP, NYM) to help out in the bullpen this week. Carson figures to return to Triple-A to make room for Marcum.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis (OF, NYM) was demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas on April 23 as the team brought Juan Lagares (OF, NYM) up from Triple-A Las Vegas. Lagares, 24, was off to a fast start batting .346 with 3 HR, 2 SB and .929 OPS in 78 AB this season after posting a .723 OPS with 4 HR and 21 SB in 547 AB with Double-A Binghamton in 2012. It seems likely that Lagares will steal playing time from Collin Cowgill (OF, NYM), perhaps pushing Cowgill into a late inning defensive replacement role in left field. A .200 xBA and .190 OBP certainly isn’t what the Mets had hoped to see from Cowgill. Marlon Byrd (OF, NYM) has a .646 OPS, 67% ct% and -12 BPV in 58 AB this season so he too could potentially lose some playing time.

Top prospect Travis d’Arnaud (C, NYM) suffered a non-displaced fracture of the first metatarsal in his left foot on April 17 and is expected to be sidelined until mid-to-late June. It had been widely speculated that he could be in the majors by mid-June to wrestle catching duties away from John Buck (C, NYM), but it is now unlikely that we’ll see him until sometime after the All-Star break.

 

Philadelphia Phillies

John Lannan (LHP, PHI) was placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 18 with a strained quadriceps tendon in his left knee and is expected to be out until early-mid-June. Jonathan Pettibone (RHP, PHI) came up from Triple-A to start in Lannan’s stead on April 22 and pitched well against the Pirates (5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K). Manager Charlie Manuel originally wouldn’t commit to giving him additional starts, but he will get at least one more turn and could remain in the rotation as long as he pitches well.  Pettibone posted a 3.10 ERA, 2.8 Ctl and 6.4 Dom in 159.2 IP combined between Double-A and Triple-A last season. Should they opt to go in another direction, Tyler Cloyd (RHP, PHI) might be next in line as he had a 4.03 xERA, 8.2 Dom, 1.9 Ctl and 106 BPV in 33 IP with the Phillies last year. However, he has a 7.65 ERA and 5.0 Ctl in his first 20 IP at Triple-A this season.

Delmon Young (OF, PHI), who is recovering from November microfracture surgery on his right ankle, began his minor league rehab assignment with Single-A Clearwater on April 21 and by all accounts had a rough time defensively, misplaying two of the seven balls hit his way and committing an error. The Phillies signed the 27-year-old to a one-year, $750,000 contract to play right field, but he has not played the position since 2007. As we suggested here a few weeks ago, it is not exactly a guarantee that Young will take over everyday duties in right field, particularly if Domonic Brown (OF, PHI) and John Mayberry (OF/1B, PHI) are playing well. In fact, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told the Philadelphia Inquirer on April 21, “Obviously we want his bat, but if he can’t play defense, he can’t play in the National League.” Of course, if Young proves he can adequately patrol right field, the team could always opt to replace him with a superior glove late in games. Barring a setback, Young could be ready to return within a couple of weeks.

 

Washington Nationals

Ryan Zimmerman (3B, WAS) was placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 18 with a left hamstring strain. Top prospect Anthony Rendon (3B, WAS) was recalled from Double-A Harrisburg to play in his stead. Rendon had an .851 OPS with 6 HR in 133 AB, mostly at Double-A, last year as he missed most of the season with a broken ankle. The 22-year-old had a .292/.462/.500 slash line with 2 HR in 48 AB with Harrisburg this season. Zimmerman is expected to return in early May and Rendon figures to head back to the minors at that time.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.