Central Notes: Bibee, Madrigal, Yelich, Perez

Guardians right-hander Tanner Bibee exited yesterday’s game due to right hip tightness in the sixth inning of yesterday’s win over the Rangers, as relayed by MLB.com. Bibee is scheduled to undergo an MRI today to determine the severity of the issue.

It’s the latest negative development for a Guardians rotation that’s been plagued by injury woes all year. Right-handers Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie are both currently on the 60-day injured list, while righty Cal Quantrill also missed significant time with injury earlier this season. With the club’s three most established starters having spent time on the shelf this season, Bibee has become the rotation’s anchor during his rookie season. The 24-year-old youngster sports an impressive 2.98 ERA that’s 41% better than league average across 25 starts this year. While his 3.52 FIP and and slightly inflated 80% strand rate indicate there could be some regression in Bibee’s future, his solid 24.1% strikeout rate and strong 7.7% walk rate give him the look of a strong mid-rotation starter at the very least.

If Bibee’s injury ends his 2023 campaign, it will have certainly been a successful one that figures to garner some attention in AL Rookie of the Year voting. The Guardians are unlikely to be meaningfully impacted by his availability for the remainder of this season, however. Considering Cleveland sits seven games back of the Twins in the AL Central with just thirteen games left to play, it would take a miracle for the club to make the postseason even in the weak AL Central division.

More from around MLB’s Central divisions…

  • Cubs infielder Nick Madrigal exited yesterday’s 13-inning marathon loss to the Diamondbacks with right hamstring tightness, as relayed by Meghan Montemurro of the Chicago Tribune. Madrigal’s balky right hamstring has caused him issues throughout his young big league career: it required season-ending surgery while he was with the White Sox back in 2021, and he missed just under a month with a strain earlier this season. A former top prospect who was selected fourth overall in the 2018 draft, Madrigal has slashed just .283/.311/.352 (83 wRC+) in 294 big league plate appearances this season. That being said, the 26-year-old has hit better since returning to the big leagues from an optional assignment in early June, slashing .271/.325/.379 with a minuscule 7.7% strikeout rate. With Jeimer Candelario already on the shelf, the Cubs figure to primarily rely on Patrick Wisdom at third base for the time being if Madrigal is out for an extended period.
  • Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich has appeared in just one game since September 8 due to low back stiffness, and manager Craig Counsell (as relayed by MLB.com) indicates that the 31-year-old is still day-to-day despite starting Friday’s game against the Nationals. “At this point, we need 100 percent of Christian Yelich.” Counsell told reporters yesterday, “It’s not the time to go out there less than that.” Though Yelich is still nowhere near the level of production he enjoyed in 2018 and 2019 when he looked like one of the best players in the sport, the veteran outfielder has enjoyed a bounce-back of sorts in 2023, slashing a solid .272/.363/.432 with a wRC+ of 116. The club has utilized Joey Wiemer and Tyrone Taylor in the outfield alongside regular fixtures Sal Frelick and Mark Canha while Yelich has been unavailable.
  • Royals catcher Salvador Perez exited yesterday’s game against the Astros after a foul ball off the bat of Jose Altuve struck his mask in the fifth inning. Perez began to feel lightheaded before exiting the game to undergo the concussion protocol, though the Royals later announced that Perez had avoided a concussion. Per MLB.com, manager Matt Quatraro told reporters that Perez “got his bell rung a little bit” but that Perez was feeling fine by the end of the game. It’s possible, then, that Perez returns to the lineup as soon as this afternoon. Perez has slashed .252/.291/.415 with a wRC+ of 84 in 551 trips to the plate this year while splitting time between catcher, first base, and DH.

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