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AL East Notes: Yankees, Cora, Diaz, Mountcastle


The Yankees are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs for the first time in years, but that hasn’t stopped them from looking to get some of their injured players on the mound one last time before the offseason. Right-hander Keynan Middleton has been on the injured list the end of August due to a bout of shoulder inflammation, though’s Bryan Hoch notes that Middleton latest bullpen session went well and the 30-year-old figures to return for the club’s final series against the Royals.

Likewise, it remains possible that the Yankees will welcome right-hander Frankie Montas back into the fold before the end of the season as he’s close to being ready to return from offseason shoulder surgery. Hoch has more details on Montas’s long-awaited return, indicating that the plan, if Montas is able to return, is for the righty to act as a piggyback starter behind one of the club’s regular starters in Kansas City, throwing 2-3 innings in relief of the day’s scheduled starter.

With both Middleton and Montas likely headed to free agency this November, it makes sense that both righties are hoping to establish themselves as healthy and effective ahead of their offseason negotiations with interested clubs. Middleton was in the midst of a solid (if unspectacular) season with the White Sox but found another gear following his move to New York at the trade deadline on August 1, after which point he posted a 0.68 ERA with 17 strikeouts in just 13 1/3 innings of work. Overall, he sports a 3.08 ERA and 3.90 FIP in 50 appearances this season. Montas, on the other hand, has not pitched in 2023 but posted a 3.67 ERA and 3.55 FIP across 59 starts the previous two seasons.

More from around the AL East…

  • Red Sox manager Alex Cora ended any speculation regarding his future in conversation with reporters today. As relayed by Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe, Cora twice told reporters this afternoon that he would be returning to the dugout for Boston in 2024. While not especially surprising, the confirmation is nonetheless noteworthy on the heels of the club firing chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom earlier this month. While speculation mounted that Cora could potentially be considered to replace Bloom in the front office, Cora recently indicated that he intends to stay in the dugout, at least for the time being. Cora took over the Red Sox as manager in 2018 and oversaw the club’s World Series championship that fall. In five seasons at the helm of Boston’s dugout, Cora sports a 438-367 record.
  • The Rays have been without first baseman Yandy Diaz in recent days due to a hamstring issue. Fortunately, Diaz appears to be nearing a return, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times relays that Diaz is feeling better and figures to return to the field in Toronto this weekend. That’s excellent news for the Rays, as Diaz has been the club’s best hitter this year with an incredible .324/.408/.515 slash line in 596 trips to the plate this year.
  • The Orioles announced earlier today that they have activated first baseman Ryan Mountcastle from the injured list, with outfielder Ryan McKenna optioned to Triple-A in the corresponding move. Mountcastle’s return is great news for the AL East-leading Orioles, as the first baseman has slashed .269/.327/.453 in 459 trips to the plate this season. He figures to join a deep 1B/DH mix that already includes Ryan O’Hearn and Anthony Santander ahead of Baltimore’s impending postseason run.

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