Blue Jays place Yusei Kikuchi on 15-day IL due to neck strain


The Blue Jays placed struggling starter Yusei Kikuchi on the 15-day injured list last night due to a neck strain. The team didn’t provide any specifics on a timetable for his return, but he’ll be out of action at least through the All-Star break.

Kikuchi may have been in danger of ceding his rotation spot anyhow, as manager Charlie Montoyo implied before his IL placement the club could move him to the bullpen in lieu of his next scheduled start (link via Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet). That’s reflective of how poorly the southpaw has pitched of late, as he’s been tagged for a 7.99 ERA in seven starts since the calendar turned to June. That brought his season line up to a 5.12 ERA, on track for his third 5.00+ mark in his four MLB seasons. He’s dominated same-handed batters but been tattooed for a .270/.397/.526 clip against righties, a trend he also showed throughout his three seasons with the Mariners.

With Kikuchi’s underperformance and the loss of Hyun-jin Ryu to Tommy John surgery, the Jays are widely expected to prioritize starting pitching help over the coming weeks. Toronto has gotten generally excellent work from Kevin Gausman and Alek Manoah, while swingman Ross Stripling has stepped in well at the back end. José Berríos is amidst a career-worst season, however, and Nate Pearson won’t resume throwing until the end of the month after suffering a lat strain while building back from a battle with mononucleosis.

In other health situations around the game:

  • Mike Soroka has made just three starts since the end of the 2019 season. The Braves right-hander tore his Achilles tendon early in 2020, then unfortunately suffered the same fate a year later. Soroka has been working his way back from that pair of devastating injuries in hopes of a midseason return, but he’s now dealing with another setback. As Justin Toscano of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported, the 24-year-old was hit in the knee by a comebacker while throwing live batting practice. Atlanta is calling the injury a bruise and has shut Soroka down for the time being, preferring to make sure his knee is at full strength before he resumes a throwing program. It’s obviously a far more minor concern than either of the Achilles tears have been, but the stroke of poor luck will push back his timeline to begin a minor-league rehab assignment by at least a little bit.
  • The Tigers lost reliever Wily Peralta to the 15-day injured list earlier this week, as he’s dealing with a strained left hamstring. Manager A.J. Hinch told reporters (including Chris McCosky of the Detroit News) that Peralta is expected to miss a fair bit of time. Hinch suggested it was unlikely he’d be back before the end of July, and it seems possible his absence could extend beyond that. Peralta, who returned to the organization on a minor league deal last winter, has tossed 33 1/3 innings through 23 appearances. The righty has a sparkling 2.16 ERA and a solid 48.4% ground-ball rate, but he’s walked 14% of batters faced with a strikeout rate below the league average.
  • Jean Segura has been out since the beginning of June. The Phillies second baseman fractured his right index finger on a bunt attempt, an injury that required surgery and came with a 10 to 12 week recovery estimate. That set his timetable at late August or perhaps into September, but Segura told reporters this week he feels he could beat that initial projection (link via Todd Zolecki of The 32-year-old recently had a trio of pins removed from his finger and is set for further evaluation next week. If that round of testing comes back as hoped, he could be cleared to start throwing and taking swings. Phils second baseman have posted an impressive .268/.339/.429 line since Segura went down, but there’s no question they’d welcome an opportunity to get him back sooner than anticipated and free up some of their utility options for work elsewhere around the infield.

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