The Oakland A’s placed DH Khris Davis on the 10-day injured list, the team announced Friday. To take his place on the roster, outfielder Skye Bolt was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas.
Davis has been dealing with a lingering oblique/hip issue for almost three weeks. He sustained the injury while playing the field in an interleague game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 5. Davis made a nice running catch down the left field line but hit hard against the railing and was removed from the game an inning later.
Davis, 2019 (43 G): .248/.318/.497, 114 wRC+, 12 HR, 29 RBI
The right-handed hitter started the season red hot. At one point, the designated hitter led the league in home runs. However, he began to slump in the weeks before his injury. After sustaining the injury, he appeared to grimace on many swings and didn’t look comfortable at the plate.
The 31-year-old Davis has been one of the A’s best and most consistent hitters since arriving in 2016. This year he leads the team with 12 home runs, and his 172 homers since the start of 2015 lead all of baseball, including 40+ each of the last three seasons. He had a career year in 2018, posting a 135 wRC+ and earning the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award. He did miss nine games almost exactly a year ago due to a right groin strain — during that stint, the A’s went 3-6 and averaged just 1.67 runs per game, helping highlight his importance to the lineup.
In Davis’ absence, the A’s will again turn to the 25-year-old Bolt. The switch-hitter was previously recalled for his major league debut during that Pittsburgh series to provide another bench bat in the absence of 1B/OF Mark Canha. He tallied four plate appearances across the three-game series and notched his first hit, a double.
Bolt, 2019 AAA (33 G): .311/.379/.571, 130 wRC+, 6 HR, 5 SB, 8.3% BB, 28.8% K
The former fourth-round pick initially broke out in 2018. He posted a 121 wRC+ with 19 home runs and 19 stolen bases in 124 games between High-A and Double-A. This breakout, along with a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League, led the A’s to add Bolt to the 40-man roster in the offseason and protect him from the Rule 5 draft. Click here for our full Bolt writeup from February.
The outfield now features Stephen Piscotty in right and Ramón Laureano in center, with left field being split between Robbie Grossman, Chad Pinder, Canha, and Bolt. Canha has also seen time in center field and Bolt is capable of playing all three outfield positions. Of course, the DH spot is also now available for one of those bats.
This IL stint was long overdue for Davis. His bat is crucial to the A’s success, but not when he isn’t 100%. He has been in and out of the lineup for almost three weeks and hasn’t looked like himself when he’s been on the field. It is probably the right decision to give him the 10 (or more) days he needs to rest and get healthy.
That being said, the A’s offense will need to step up in his absence. The team is riding a six-game winning streak into a crucial homestand against three AL West rivals. Matt Olson’s return has seriously helped, while Canha has slugged five home runs in the eight games he has played since returning from his own injury. On their recent nine-game road trip, they scored a whopping 59 runs (6.6 per game) and blasted 21 homers.
This will also give the A’s a chance to see what they have in Bolt. There isn’t much more for him to prove at Triple-A, and at 25, he is right on the cusp of becoming a non-prospect. Bolt is toolsy and has the chance to become a truly dynamic player, but there is some serious swing-and-miss in his game and it remains to be seen if he can succeed against major league pitching. He likely won’t see regular playing time during this stint, but hopefully his ability to play all three outfield positions will let him grab a few starts, particularly against right-handed pitching.
What might be most telling about this move is the player that wasn’t called up. Shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo is killing it at Las Vegas and looks ready for a big league opportunity.
Mateo, 2019 AAA (42 G): .320/.361/.557, 120 wRC+, 6 HR, 11 SB, 5.3% BB, 22.1% K
The toolsy 23-year-old is already on the 40-man roster. However, with second baseman Jurickson Profar’s recent resurgence, there is nowhere for Mateo to play. He does have some experience in the outfield, but the talented youngster will likely have to wait for an injury or underperformance up the middle of the infield.
The A’s also could have opted to activate outfielder Nick Martini from his rehab assignment. The 28-year-old is currently in Triple-A working his way back from a sprained right knee. He was excellent for Oakland down the stretch in 2018, but posted an unsustainably high .379 BABIP. In nine rehab games in the minors, he’s showing his usual strong plate discipline but doesn’t yet have an extra-base hit.