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MLB News and Notes: Week of June 11

In the United States, Flag Day is celebrated on June 14. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on June 14, 1777, by resolution of the Second Continental Congress. Baseball and Fantasy have the pennant, its own version of the flag, to proudly symbolize victory. A pennant typically refers to such a flag flown specifically by the National League or American League championship team of a given season, or to such a championship itself. This is a holdover from the time (pre-1969) when the league championships were determined by the team with the best record at the end of the regular season, and has recently led to the saying, especially among fantasy owners, “flags fly forever”. Here is the latest MLB news to help you fly your flag forever.

MLB News and Notes for June 11

Knee Woes for Top Prospect

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the Toronto Blue Jays star prospect, is out four weeks with a patellar tendon strain in his left knee. The patella is attached to the quadriceps muscles by the quadriceps tendon. Working together, the quadriceps muscles, quadriceps tendon, and patellar tendon straighten the knee. The Jays and fantasy owners will hold their breath for a while to see if this is the minor injury that everyone hopes it is.

Top Starting Pitchers Headed to the DL

It has finally happened. Owners of Shohei Ohtani will have to deal with replacing both a pitcher and a hitter as he was put on the disabled list with a sprained ligament in his pitching elbow. Now the next fear is that he will face Tommy John surgery.

Ohtani underwent injections of platelet-rich plasma and stem cells Thursday in Los Angeles and will be evaluated again in three weeks. Ohtani is 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA while hitting .289 with six home runs, 20 RBIs, and a .907 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Will the Angels consider going away from a six-man rotation? That may bode well for the values of Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs, and Andrew Heaney.

There is also another concerning injury issue to a star pitcher as Stephen Strasburg was removed from last Friday’s 9-5 loss to the Giants with a bout of right shoulder inflammation.  Following the game, he revealed that he had been experiencing shoulder pain for several starts, but refused to speculate further about the severity of the issue until the results of his MRI are revealed. The good news was that the MRI  showed no structural damage, but the 29-year-old right-hander will be going on the DL with shoulder inflammation.

For this next bit of MLB news, we can resume the complaints about AL pitchers batting at NL parks. Masahiro Tanaka made a quick exit last Friday after experiencing stiffness in both of his hamstrings.

He appeared to sustain the injury after running out a game-tying sac fly in the top of the sixth inning after reaching base on an error by Mets first baseman Adrain Gonzalez. On Saturday, the Yankees placed Tanaka on the 10-day disabled list. There are hints that the Yankees may recall prospect Justis Sheffield from Triple-A Scranton. Printing may begin soon on the Judge and Justis memorabilia.

Yu who? When the Cubs placed Yu Darvish on the DL, they filled his spot with Mike Montgomery. In two outings as a starter, Montgomery has pitched a combined 11⅔ innings, giving up four hits, one walk, and just one run. Montgomery may have been bolstered by a reunion with catcher Chris Gimenez. Gimenez and Montgomery were teammates in the Rays system in 2013, as Gimenez was apparently Montgomery’s personal catcher in the minors.

Staying with the pitcher-heavy theme, Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha extended his winning streak to eight games last Saturday. Wacha held the Reds to four hits, one of them Eugenio Suarez’s two-run homer, in 5 2/3 innings. This comes off of last Sunday’s performance when he carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the Pirates, finishing the game by giving up one hit and two walks with eight strikeouts.

Sixto Sanchez, the Phillies’ top prospect, has been placed on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation. The 19-year-old has made eight starts for high-A Clearwater this season, striking out 45 and walking 11 over 46.2 innings.

Here is some good news for a pitcher as Orioles reliever Zach Britton is expected to be activated from the disabled list as soon as Wednesday. Britton has looked good on his rehab assignment with Norfolk, so that injured Achilles tendon that has cost him the entire season so far seems to be healed.

Betts Bat Back in Boston Lineup?

In some MLB news bound to make fantasy owners very happy, Mookie Betts could begin a brief rehab assignment (presumably one or two games) Monday if everything else goes well with some BP Sunday.

Milwaukee Brewer’s first baseman Jesus Aguilar is making the most of his opportunity for playing time. He now ranks second on the team in home runs and RBIs behind Travis Shaw. He is owned in less than 70 percent of most fantasy leagues.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post is reporting that the Mets are considering demoting Michael Conforto to Triple-A Las Vegas. The Mets likely won’t have to make room on the roster until Yoenis Cespedes returns and he just suffered a setback by aggravating his quad muscle in a rehab game. Conforto is hitting.219/.340/.365 on the year and has been slumping worse than that lately. This is slightly interesting as he is not the only Met playing poorly and most (except Brandon Nimmo) are barely worthy of a spot on most fantasy rosters. The Mets are trying to get infielder José Reyes to agree to hold a retirement news conference. Reyes, who turns 35 years old on Monday, is batting .139/.205/.194 in 78 plate appearances.

Then we have the curious case of the under-owned Dodgers cornerman Max Muncy. He has been starting at third base over the past couple of contests, but he should stick in the starting lineup even with Justin Turner expected to return Sunday. Muncy is slashing .268/.385/.593 over 148 plate appearances with Los Angeles this year and would make a nice pickup in most formats. The Dodgers have indicated that they plan to find ways to keep him in the lineup.

Has a change in launch angle turned this boring veteran into a useful fantasy commodity? Check out Anthony Franco’s Trend Tracking to see who it is.

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