HomeMLB RumorsThe Opener: Blanco, Hoerner, Winn

The Opener: Blanco, Hoerner, Winn

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As the 2024 regular season continues, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:

1. Suspension looms for Blanco:

Astros right-hander Ronel Blanco was ejected from his start against the A’s last night following a foreign substance check by the umpires. Given that players ejected due to a failed foreign substance check are subject to an automatic ten-game suspension, it’s likely that MLB will announce that punishment for the right-hander later today. Blanco indicated last night that he intends to appeal any suspension levied against him, although no suspension for violating the league’s foreign substance policy has been overturned since the automatic suspension was put into place back in June of 2021.

A noteworthy quirk of the suspension is that teams are not allowed to replace players suspended for foreign substance use on their active rosters. That makes the loss of Blanco, who n0-hit the Blue Jays during his first start of the season and has posted a 2.09 ERA through eight starts this season, even more devastating as they will essentially be forced to use a 25-man roster for the next week and a half. Houston had been planning to go with a six-man rotation over the next few weeks because they only have one off-day between now and June 6. Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Hunter Brown, and Spencer Arrighetti could perhaps hold things down while Blanco is out but a challenging part of their schedule may now prove to be even tougher.

2. Hoerner to be re-evaluated:

Cubs infielder Nico Hoerner was a late scratch from yesterday’s game against the Braves due to tightness in his left hamstring, and manager Craig Counsell told reporters (per MLB.com’s Injury Tracker) after the game that Hoerner had felt some discomfort during batting practice. Counsell added that Hoerner would be re-evaluated today, while Hoerner suggested that his injury was day-to-day.

An absence of any length for Hoerner is a notable blow to the Cubs, as the second baseman had been tabbed to cover shortstop with Dansby Swanson on the injured list due to a right knee sprain. Utilityman Miles Mastrobuoni made his first career big league start at shortstop last night in Hoerner’s absence, with Nick Madrigal covering second base. Shoulder Hoerner be in for a longer absence, it’s possible the Cubs could look to add a player better suited to shortstop, such as youngster Luis Vázquez, to the roster as a stopgap option. Vázquez, 24, has not yet made his major league debut but is already on the 40-man roster and has hit a solid .280/.381/.424 at the Triple-A level this year.

3. Winn to undergo MRI:

Giants right-hander Keaton Winn departed last night’s game against the Dodgers in the fifth inning due to what the team described as forearm tightness, as noted by Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area. Winn is slated to undergo an MRI to determine the severity of the issue later today. Any sort of issue with the forearm is a somewhat ominous diagnosis, although Winn told reporters (per MLB.com’s Injury Tracker) after the game that he doesn’t believe the issue is serious, instead attributing his dip in velocity to fatigue.

Winn, 26, has struggled badly through nine starts for the Giants with a 6.17 ERA despite a decent 4.38 FIP. While a trip to the injured list could afford the youngster an opportunity to reset, it would be a devastating below for a Giants rotation that’s already down to just four healthy pitchers with Blake Snell, Alex Cobb, Tristan Beck, and Robbie Ray all already on the injured list. Should Winn require a trip to the shelf, right-hander Mason Black appears to be the most likely candidate to step into the rotation in his stead.


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