USA TODAY Sports Weekly
National League notes
NL EAST Atlanta Braves
RHP Ian Anderson still counts as a rookie, but the Braves know what he can do under pressure. So it was no surprise that after nearly two months on the injured list because of shoulder pain, Anderson returned Aug. 29 and threw 5 2⁄3 scoreless innings against the San Francisco Giants.
“If I can replicate (2020), that would be great,” Anderson said.
The Braves were a game below .500 and four games out of first place through July 11, when Anderson made his last start before going on the IL. They were on a 25-14 run since then when he returned to the rotation and had built a 4 1⁄2-game lead in the NL East Division.
❚ For the first time since 2006, the Braves should end up with four players hitting at least 25 home runs. 1B Freddie Freeman, 3B Austin Riley and SS Dansby Swanson are already there, and 2B Ozzie Albies had 23 through Aug. 29.
The Marlins finally got to see the major league debut of touted prospect RHP Edward Cabrera but might not see a September return for RHP Pablo Lopez.
Lopez, one of their top starters when he went on the injured list in mid-July because of a strained rotator cuff, seemed to be on his way back when he threw three hitless innings in a rehab start for Class AAA Jacksonville (Florida). But more questions about his shoulder forced a pause in his rehab.
Cabrera, ranked by MLB.com as the No. 30 prospect in the game, debuted with 6 1⁄3 innings in an Aug. 25 win over the Washington Nationals. He carried a shutout through six innings before allowing three runs in the seventh.
❚ For the first time in franchise history, the Marlins had more players in the MLB Pipeline Top 100 prospects list (seven) than any other organization.
New York Mets
2B Javier Baez celebrated a big home run in an Aug. 29 win over the Washington Nationals by flashing two thumbs down as he crossed the plate. Other Mets also used the “thumbs-down” celebration, which Baez later said was a response to fans who booed a team that had lost 19 of 27 and fallen from first to a distant third in the NL East.
“When I strike out and I get booed, it doesn’t really get to me,” said Baez, who was hitting .210 as a Met with 22 strikeouts in 62 at-bats. “But I want to let them know that when we do (have) success, we’re going to do the same thing, to let them know how it feels.”
Team President Sandy Alderson said Baez’s gesture was “totally unacceptable.”
❚ RHP Noah Syndergaard was supposed to celebrate his 29th birthday by making a rehab start, another step in his return from Tommy John elbow surgery. Instead, he was scratched because of what multiple reports said was a positive test for the coronavirus.
The Phillies got a double dose of bad news when 1B Rhys Hoskins announced he would have season-ending surgery to repair a tear in his abdomen and RHP Zach Eflin was scratched from his scheduled return start in the big leagues because of more problems with his right knee.
Eflin had no trouble in a minor league rehab start. The Phillies activated him from the injured list and he went through his pregame preparations, but the tendinitis in his knee flared.
A day later, Eflin was one of three Phillies to test positive for the coronavirus, and manager Joe Girardi said Eflin might not pitch again this season.
❚ J.T. Realmuto is expected to play some first base in September, in part because Hoskins’ injury opened the position but also because it would be less of a strain on Realmuto’s sore right shoulder.
The Nationals already have seen encouraging signs from RHP Josiah Gray, acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the deadline deal for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. Now they’ll spend the rest of this season looking at C Keibert Ruiz, the other big prospect in the trade.
After Ruiz hit .308 with five home runs in 20 games at Class AAA Rochester (New York), the Nationals announced he would join the big-league team Aug. 30 and catch Gray.
Gray already had made five starts since the trade and had a 2.89 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 28 innings. “They invested a lot in me and Keibert,” Gray said. “So it’s going to be really fun.”
❚ The Nationals became one of the first major league teams to mandate that all of their nonplaying employees had to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
NL CENTRAL Chicago Cubs
IF David Bote sustained one of the most freakish injuries in recent memory and could miss the remainder of the season.
Bote sprained his right ankle Aug. 27 and was placed on the injured list after stepping on a baseball during batting practice. The ball was obscured by some white lettering in foul territory.
Manager David Ross said he once did the same thing when he was a player.
“It messed up my ankle pretty good, and he was the same,” Ross said.
❚ 3B Patrick Wisdom became the first rookie in Cubs history to have consecutive multiple-homer games when he went deep twice against the White Sox on Aug. 27-28 at Guaranteed Rate Field.
It proved to be a fortuitous move when the Reds claimed IF Asdrubal Cabrera on waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 35-year-old made his Reds debut Aug. 28 when he entered the game in the second inning in place of injured 3B Mike Moustakas.
“We’re just adding a player that has a lot of experience in big games and good teams,” manager David Bell said.
Moustakas, sidelined by injuries for a quarter of the season, left the game because of right hip tightness and didn’t play Aug. 29.
❚ RHP Tejay Antone likely will be out until the start of the 2023 season after having Tommy John elbow surgery. Antone missed 53 games because of forearm tightness, then was injured in his first game off the injured list Aug. 24.