Bad News for Lamb

Photo Credit: Matt York | AP Photo

By Rich Daniels

When a player is sent to visit Dr. James Andrews, the orthopedic wizard of athletics, good news is hoped for but not expected. Diamondbacks third baseman Jake Lamb made the journey to Alabama to be examined by Andrews and did not get the report he and the team desired.

Lamb has been nicked by health issues all season having spent appreciable time on the disabled list prior to his current stint. Like a pro, the 27-year-old has gritted his teeth and done his best to push through a sore shoulder since spring training. Time off while on the DL and extra days off, especially against left-handed starters, just haven't been enough to solve Lamb's problem.

Andrews found the rotator cuff in Lamb's left shoulder is frayed and will likely require surgery to correct. Such a procedure would end the left-handed slugger's season. Fraying means that fine strands of the tiny muscle have broken due to wear and tear and continued use of the shoulder would eventually lead to a major tear. Lamb and the Diamondbacks are weighing their options as therapeutic programs are available, but surgery has been recommended. 

Season so far

Lamb is batting just .222 on the season with six homers, 31 RBI's and a .655 OPS in 238 plate appearances. Those numbers are in stark contrast to the escalating production he has put on the board over the past two seasons. In 2016 Lamb broke out with 29 homers and 91 RBI's then posted 30 home runs and 105 RBI's last season establishing himself as a bona fide power threat in the middle of the Diamondback lineup. With the team again in playoff contention, Lamb has been doing everything he can to stay in the lineup and contribute. 

Perhaps sensing a long-term problem with their third baseman, the D-backs acquired Eduardo Escobar from the Twins on Friday. It remains to be seen what Lamb and team officials will decide to do about his diagnosis. Choosing to step away from a playoff race is a difficult decision but, with Lamb entering the optimum production years of his career and going into his second year of arbitration eligibility, the decision is a critical one.

Other Moves

In other news, the non-waiver trading deadline found the Diamondbacks continuing to fortify their roster. The team reunited with submarining reliever Brad Ziegler in exchange for hard-throwing reliever Tommy Eveld. Ziegler was 1-5 with a 3.98 ERA and ten saves in 52 innings for the Marlins. The 6' 5" Eveld had appeared in 35 games across the A and AA levels compiling a 3-2 record, 13 saves, an eye-popping 1.11 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 40.2 innings. 

The Diamondbacks also traded for lefty reliever Jake Diekman from the Texas Rangers. The lefty specialist has appeared in 47 games for 39 innings, a 1-1 record, 3.69 ERA and 48 strikeouts. Diekman gives manager Torey Lovullo a legitimate left-handed hammer out of the bullpen for the playoff run. In exchange for Diekman, the D-backs sent right-handed reliever Wei-Chieh Huang to the Rangers. Huang combined for 29 games in A-ball and AA for a 2.31 ERA in 58.1 innings. The 24-year-old from Taiwan has a 6-2 record, one save and 78 strikeouts. Diekman's travel expenses to join his new team were covered in full by the D-backs sent their bullpen car to whisk him over from the visiting clubhouse as the Rangers were in town. 

Acquiring the two veteran relievers in exchange for two young fireballers mean the Diamondbacks are all-in for the playoff run. The bullpen is now longer, deeper and promises to be much more effective.

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