Baseball

The Opener: Thorpe, Rodriguez, Renfroe

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With 40% of the 2024 regular season now in the books, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:

1. Thorpe to debut:

The White Sox are wasting no time in promoting their centerpiece from the Dylan Cease trade to the majors, as manager Pedro Grifol confirmed over the weekend that right-hander Drew Thorpe will make his MLB debut against the Mariners this evening. The White Sox will need to create space for Thorpe on both the 40-man and active rosters prior to tonight’s game, which is set to start at 6:40pm local time in Seattle. Thorpe will be tasked with taking on Mariners youngster Bryan Woo (1.07 ERA), who has been nothing short of dominant since returning from the injured list last month.

The 23-year-old Thorpe was in the headlines frequently this winter as he was twice included as a key part of the return in blockbuster deals, first headlining the return headed from New York to San Diego for Juan Soto alongside Michael King before the aforementioned Cease deal. Thorpe will be bypassing the Triple-A level entirely to make his way to the majors, but has an excellent 1.39 ERA in 16 starts at the Double-A level with an excellent 29.9% strikeout rate. A consensus top-100 prospect, Thorpe receives consistently high marks for his changeup and command with most services projecting him as a mid-rotation arm in the long term.

2. Rodriguez to debut:

Thorpe isn’t the only starting pitching prospect set to make his MLB debut today, as the Brewers are reportedly expected to promote right-hander Carlos Rodriguez for his major league debut this evening for a game against the Blue Jays in Milwaukee. The game is scheduled for 7:10pm local time and will see Rodriguez face off against veteran lefty Yusei Kikuchi (3.48 ERA) amid what has been a career season for the former NPB hurler. The Brewers will need to make room for Rodriguez on both the active and 40-man rosters prior to tonight’s game.

The 22-year-old has not typically been ranked especially highly by prospect outlets, but after being selected in the sixth round of the 2022 draft he nonetheless made some noise last year by posting a 2.77 ERA with a 29.5% strikeout rate across 25 starts at Double-A last year. Rodriguez received the bump to Triple-A late last year and has now made 13 total appearances at the level, but he’s struggled to a 5.21 ERA with a reduced 24.7% strikeout rate in that time. Still, the Brewers will turn to Rodriguez to take the ball in tonight’s game amid a myriad of starting pitching injuries that have plagued the club in recent weeks.

3. Renfroe injured:

It was a frustrating turn of events for both the Royals and veteran outfielder Hunter Renfroe as he exited yesterday’s loss to the Yankees after fouling two pitches off his left foot amid a 12-pitch duel with lefty Carlos Rodon. Manager Matt Quatraro told reporters (as relayed by Bally Sports Kansas City) that Renfroe suffered a broken toe during the at-bat and that he would be evaluated further before the club decides if a stint on the injured list will be necessary for the veteran. In the short term, any of Nick Pratto, Tyler Gentry, or Drew Waters could feasible replace Renfroe on the roster if he needs a stint on the IL.

The timing is especially unfortunate because Renfroe has been on a hot streak in recent weeks after a dreadful start to the season. The 32-year-old slashed just .150/.218/.263 in 87 trips to the plate prior to May 1 and continued to scuffle early last month but has turned things around in a big way over his last 20 games with an excellent .302/.371/.556 slash line in 70 plate appearances since the middle of May. If Renfroe ends up missing significant time due to the injury, it will only further highlight the need for another bat or two in the club’s outfield mix ahead of the trade deadline this summer; Royals outfielders have posted a collective wRC+ of just 75 this year, third-worst in baseball ahead of only the White Sox and Rockies.

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