Boy, the end is really creeping up fast, isn’t it? We’ve got two full weeks of baseball left and then a half week after that. All done on the 28th of September. Most head to head playoffs should have either wrapped this past week or are about to this week, so if you’re headed into championship week, good luck. Roto league players – you haven’t got much time left. You’re either hanging on for dear life or you’re plotting (read: hoping for) some late season surge to take over the top spot. Whichever way it is, staying on top of the latest injuries is paramount. Here’s a look at the latest news….
It look like Will Venable is a bit of a risky play this week as he missed Sunday’s game with a sore shoulder and it continues to be a lingering issue. His 25 stolen bases make him a solid option in both NL-only and deeper mixed leagues, but at this time of the season, it’s hard to take risks with some guys. You might want to consider an alternative, depending on what’s still out there on your waiver wire.
If you’ve been one of those NL-only leaguers that’s been using Justin Turner to fill in your infield gaps, you might want to give yourself a back –up plan for the remaining weeks. Not only has he lost time with the return of Jose Reyes, but he’s also in a pretty even split with Ruben Tejada. Add to it a stomach virus and probable dehydration that comes along with it, and you’ve got added time missed. He was again out of the lineup Sunday, and may miss another game if he’s not 100% healthy.
Jason Kubel’s foot injury continues to keep him out of the lineup more often than he is in. He was the Twins DH Friday and pinch hit Sunday, but he hasn’t started five of the last six games and is still a question mark coming into this week. Ron Gardenhire continues to cite wet grass as a reason to keep Kubel out of the lineup, so it’s not like you’ll see him play the field much moving forward. They’ll take his ability to DH on a day to day basis.
The Twins may also be without third baseman Danny Valencia who was a late scratch Sunday due to shoulder soreness. Perhaps the injury is the reason for the super-slow September, so keep an eye on him and possibly look for a replacement for the week. Luke Hughes should be the one to get the work in Valencia’s absence.
The Rockies are dealing with some minor injuries at second base as Mark Ellis is dealing with a sore neck and Chris Nelson is dealing with a lingering heel issue. Ellis should be ok moving forward this week, but if he continues to miss any time then the Rox could turn to Eric Young, Jr. over at second. Or, if Todd Helton’s cranky back gets better, a problem that has kept him out of the lineup recently but should be better this week, then Ty Wigginton could be shifted over as well.
Also in Rockie-town, we’ve got more issues with Carlos Gonzalez who missed the game the other day due to lower back stiffness. It’s a horrible time of the year to lose a player of CarGo’s caliber, but with the Rockies out of contention, there’s no reason to push him. Check back on his status shortly before game time, but it also wouldn’t hurt to see what other outfield possibilities await you on the waiver wire. The same goes for Troy Tulowitzki who is currently dealing with a sore hip. He’s another one it would suck to lose, but the team isn’t going to push their best player to come back too soon for a busted season.
Ryan Doumit, who has been a huge boost at the catcher position recently, could miss a few days depending on how his chest feels Monday morning. Doumit got thumped square in the chest on a passed ball over the weekend and was forced to leave the game. Obviously it’s wasn’t a change-up. Check his status before locking in your lineup for this week, but the injury seems to be pretty minor. Maybe Mike McKenry gets a start or two this week, but Doumit should remain the primary.
The Phillies continue to have middle infield problems as Jimmy Rollins remains sidelined with a groin injury and normal replacement Wilson Valdez is now hampered by a hamstring issue he suffered over the weekend. There is no timetable for either player’s return right now, so Michael Martinez looks to be the Phillies’ shortstop for the foreseeable future.
After blowing a save in horrific fashion over the weekend, Rays closer Kyle Farnsowrth cited elbow problems as the cause. He’s expected to take a few days off this week, so if you’re in need of saves, you’ll have to fish off the waiver wire. The Rays will either turn to J.P. Howell or Jake McGee right now if they need someone this week.
It looks like Josh Beckett will miss his next start early this week, but depending on how his Monday bullpen session goes, he could rejoin the rotation sometime around Thursday. If you’re in a tight race with your ratios, you may want to skip him this week as you never know how he’ll perform coming back. There’s also the chance, with the playoffs looming, that Terry Francona holds him out all week for precautionary reasons.
Russell Martin, who took a foul tip off the hand Saturday, remained out of the lineup Sunday with a thumb injury he sustained. It looks like he could be out for a few days as the Yankees don’t want to rush him back if it’s not absolutely necessary. He’s been relatively inconsistent this season, so it’s not like he’s totally irreplaceable. The Yankees will use Jesus Montero in the meantime with Francisco Cervelli dealing with a concussion right now, but he’s probably not available to you. There are enough catchers who are, so don’t go hitting that panic button just yet.
The Marlins have been without Logan Morrison the past two games due to a bruised knee and he is likely to miss Monday’s game as well. However, he shouldn’t miss more than that apparently, so if you’re in a weekly league, there’s a pretty strong chance that he’ll be available the rest of the way. If you’re not up for taking that chance though, then you should have found yourself a replacement by now.
While x-rays revealed no fracture of the lower leg, Coco Crisp remained out of the lineup this past weekend and is likely to miss the upcoming series against the Angels. That’s not good for owners who had been relying on Crisp’s production this season and you will probably have to find yourself another stolen base alternative. They say he’s doubtful for the next three games and there’s a possibility that he misses more than that.
Other banged up players that could miss a game or two but not much more than that include: Michael Cuddyer, Nick Swisher, Alex Gonzalez, Adam Jones, Yunel Escobar, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Chase Utley, Edwin Encarnacion, Mike Stanton, Justin Morneau, and Rickie Weeks
Brett Lillibridge’s season has come to an abrupt halt as he is done for the year with a fracture on the outside of his hand. He was coming off a fantastic August where he hit six home runs, but that’s all in the past now. If there was more season left, he may have made it back, but since there isn’t, you can feel free to drop him in all formats.
Time to get Nelson Cruz back in your fantasy lineup, folks, as he is being activated from the DL Tuesday and should be in the starting lineup all week. Ron Washington says that he’ll DH Cruz to start, but the oft-injured slugger should be back in the field shortly. Getting Cruz active again should be a nice boost in the power department for this final stretch of the season.
If all goes according to plan, Colby Rasmus could be back in the Blue Jays’ lineup as early as Tuesday this week. Apparently, his wrist is fully healed, and while they were hoping to get him a little more time to play the outfield down in Double-A, scheduling issues might just force him back to the bigs rather than erring on the side of caution. Rasmus is notoriously streaky, so if he does get hot right when he comes back, he could be a fantastic addition to your lineup.
It’s mid-September and you’re still hanging on, waiting for Johan Santana to do something? Yeesh! Sure, he’s making a Class-A start this coming Thursday, but are you really banking on him doing anything after that? Anything related to helping your 2011 fantasy season, that is? Probably not. And if you’re even remotely thinking about him as a potential keeper for 2012, then you may as well just forfeit next season right now.
Other players who could be making it back this week include: Scott Rolen, Chase Headley, Kevin Youkilis, Jack Hanahan, Jonathon Niese, and Erik Bedard.
Still up in the air with no clear cut answer would be: Brian Wilson, Tommy Hanson, and Denard Span.
Howard Bender is the founder of The Fantasy Baseball Buzz and SF Giants Report. You can also find his work at FanGraphs and RotoWire. For questions, thoughts and comments, you can email Howard at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter - @rotobuzzguy and @SFGiantsReport.
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