The Oakland A’s placed outfielder Matt Joyce on the 10-day disabled list on Saturday, the team announced. To take his place, fellow outfielder Nick Martini was called up from Triple-A Nashville.
The diagnosis for Joyce is a lumbar strain in his back, again. The same injury landed him on the DL on June 6, causing him to miss over two weeks. He returned on June 22 but didn’t make much noise at the plate in eight games before going down again. This is indeed a recurrence of the same problem, reports Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle.
Joyce, last 8 gms: 6-for-24, 1 double, 3 BB, 5 Ks, .625 OPS
Overall it’s been a disappointing season for Joyce. He posted one the best campaigns of his career in 2017, including a personal-high in homers (25), but he hasn’t been able to repeat it this time around. His back, which has reportedly bothered him for a while even before the first DL trip, could easily help explain that extended slump.
Joyce, 2018: .203/.311/.359, 88 wRC+, 7 HR, 13.3% BB, 22.6% Ks
While he’s out, we’ll get another look at Martini. He made his MLB debut in June during a brief stint, and then later that month he collected his first MLB hit at an opportune moment — as a pinch-hitter, his single drove in the eventual winning run in his hometown area of Chicago.
Martini, 2018 MLB: 1-for-10, RBI
The 28-year-old profiles similarly to Joyce, as a lefty hitter with excellent on-base skills. Down in Triple-A, Martini has an ongoing streak of reaching base in each of his last 65 games, which is by far a Nashville team record dating back 20 years. Since returning to the Sounds from his last MLB stint in late-June he played 11 games, hitting safely in each of the first 10 and drawing a walk in the 11th contest.
Martini, 2018 AAA: .308/.415/.436, 130 wRC+, 6 HR, 15.4% BB, 20.4% Ks
He joins an A’s outfield that includes Dustin Fowler in CF, Stephen Piscotty in RF, and Mark Canha and Chad Pinder filling in where needed. Joyce had been the primary starter in LF, but now that spot will presumably be shared by Canha, Pinder, and Martini.
Joyce is a free agent after the season, so at some point you have to start wondering what’s left of his A’s career. He won’t have time to build up any stock before the trade deadline in three weeks, and Oakland’s outfield is no longer as empty as it was last summer. Canha and Pinder have played well all year, Piscotty and Fowler have come on strong lately, and Martini has earned a longer look too.
If Joyce is only out a couple weeks then he could probably work back into the lineup and resume contributing, but if it’s a month or two this time (and especially if/when the A’s fall out of contention) then there might not be much left for him to do before his contract expires. AN wishes him well in his recovery, and we’ll reevaluate his situation once he’s back to health.