COVID-19 is still negatively impacting the game of baseball but, there’s cause for a bit of optimism as the Cardinals are finally playing ball again after a 17 day interruption to their season. On Saturday the MLB network reported that only four of the 12301 samples collected over the past week turned up new positive COVID test results.
That’s good news, but the virus still needs to be respected. The Reds have had three of their games cancelled due to positive COVID-19 test results. Teams, like the Indians, are taking extra care to both ensure that their players are adhering to the COVID related. They were quick to option pitchers Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac to their alternate training site after they broke COVID protocols.
COVID-19 news aside, this week’s injury report is littered with fantasy relevant players who will be forced to miss time this upcoming week. We’ll take a closer look at some of the injuries that we fantasy players will have to work around as we head into the upcoming week of the 2020 MLB season.
Stephen Strasburg , Washington Nationals
Strasburg was removed from his Friday start against the Orioles after just 16 pitches and was placed on the IL with carpal tunnel neuritis. This is Strasburg’s second trip to the IL due to the same nerve issue in his pitching hand.
Tyler Chatwood , Chicago Cubs
Chatwood was placed on the 10-day IL on Sunday due to back tightness. The move is retroactive to this past Thursday. With José Quintana still nursing a thumb injury and two doubleheaders on the schedule for the Cubs this week, they’ll have to scramble to put a healthy starting pitcher on the mound. Cory Abbott is an intriguing alternative who has a career minor league 2.84 ERA and 10.3 K/9 in 53 starts.
Charlie Morton , Tampa Bay Rays
Morton was placed on the IL due to shoulder inflammation after being removed from last week’s Sunday start against the Yankees after two innings of work. He played some catch this past Thursday and the Rays are hopeful he’ll be able to return to action when he’s eligible to come off the IL this Thursday.
Madison Bumgarner , Arizona Diamondbacks
In last week’s column we noted that Bumgarner was removed from last Sunday’s start after pitching just two innings due to back spasms. He was placed on the IL with a mid-back strain and was originally expected to miss two starts. Bumgarner threw a bullpen session this past Thursday. He has a 7.04 ERA in 15 1/3 IP this season and he’s also had a concerning drop in his velocity. The average velocity on his fastball is just 88.2 mph this season compared to 91.7 mph last season.
Kirby Yates , San Diego Padres
Yates was removed from his Friday night appearance after throwing just six pitches, due to what was originally described as irritation in his throwing elbow. An MRI revealed that he had bone chips in the back of his elbow. Yates is seeking a second opinion. Drew Pomeranz is expected to fill in as the Padres closer with Emilio Pagán and Craig Stammen also in line for possible save opportunities.
Aroldis Chapman , New York Yankees
Chapman is being activated off of the COVID-19 IL and will resume his role as the Yankees closer. Zack Britton , who has saved an MLB-leading eight games for the Yanks in Chapman’s absence, will return to his set-up role.
Will Smith , Los Angeles Dodgers
Smith was placed on the IL due to neck inflammation. He was feeling stiffness in his neck for over a week and his condition didn’t improve as quickly as initially anticipated. Austin Barnes has been filling in at catcher for Smith and has posted a .444/.444/.667 triple-slash with a 1.111 OPS in his last five games. Keibert Ruiz , the Dodgers’ top catching prospect was promoted from their alternate training site and celebrated by hitting a home run in his first at-bat on Sunday.
C.J. Cron, Minnesota Twins
Cron will have season ending knee surgery due to a damaged ligament to his left knee. Jeimer Candelario will take over as the Tigers’ everyday first baseman. He has a bit of pop in his bat but will likely drain your fantasy team’s batting average.
D.J. LeMahieu, New York Yankees
LeMahieu was lifted from the Yankees’ Saturday night matchup against the Red Sox and has been placed on the 10-day IL with a left thumb sprain. He suffered a similar injury in 2018 which caused him to miss two and a half weeks of the season. Tyler Wade will see additional playing time with LeMahieu sidelined. Miguel Andújar was recalled from the Yankees alternate site and will replace LeMahieu on the roster.
Starlin Castro , Washington Nationals
Castro suffered a broken wrist Friday night against the Orioles and has been placed on the IL. There’s no exact timetable for his return, however in a corresponding move the Nationals called up top infield prospect Luis García. Garcia can steal a base and has a .281/.312/.373 career minor league triple-slash. Garcia, Asdrúbal Cabrera , Howie Kendrick and Carter Kieboom all have experience at playing at the keystone.
Ozzie Albies , Atlanta Braves
As reported last week, Albies is currently on the IL with a right wrist bone contusion. The good news is that he started swinging a bat this past Friday. The bad news is that he’s still approximately a week away from returning to live action.
Bo Bichette , Toronto/Buffalo Blue Jays
Bichette was placed on the IL with a sprained right knee. Bichette, who has been the Blue Jays’ hottest hitter, “felt something” in his right knee during Saturday’s game against the Rays. He underwent an MRI which confirmed the diagnosis. Brandon Drury , Joe Panik and Santiago Espinal can all fill in for Bichette until he is ready to be reinstated. There is some speculation that he could be sidelined until mid-September.
Aaron Judge , New York Yankees
Judge joined Giancarlo Stanton on the IL with what the team is calling a mild calf strain. Judge blamed the injury due to wear and tear from using cleats on the turf at Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field. He is expected to be reinstated once he’s eligible to come off of the IL this coming Saturday. Mike Tauchman , Clint Frazier and Mike Ford will all see more playing time with Judge and Stanton sidelined.
Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves
The Braves placed Acuna on the IL due to wrist inflammation. The move is retroactive to this past Wednesday, which means he’ll be eligible to come off the IL this Friday. Ender Inciarte has been getting regular at-bats with Acuna sidelined, but hasn’t been very productive. The Braves are hoping Acuna will recover quickly but if not, some speculate 20 year-old top prospect Cristian Pache could be promoted to the big leagues. He might be worth stashing.
Michael Brantley , Houston Astros
Brantley hit the IL due to a nagging right quad injury that’s taken longer to heal than originally expected. The move is retroactive to this past Wednesday and Brantley is expected to be reinstated once eligible. Yordan Alvarez ’s return to the lineup will likely soften the blow of losing Brantley’s bat.
Austin Hays , Baltimore Orioles
Hays was placed on the 10-day IL due to a non-displaced rib fracture. He’s considered one of the Orioles’ top prospects but other than a hot streak following a September 2019 call-up, he has struggled in the big leagues. In a corresponding move, Cedric Mullins was called up from the Orioles’ alternate training site. Mullins has struggled in parts of three previous big league seasons and it appears that the hot hitting Anthony Santander is the Orioles outfielder you should be looking to add to your roster.
Tommy Pham , San Diego Padres
Pham was removed from the Padres’ Sunday matchup against the Diamondbacks in the middle of an at-bat after fouling a ball off of his hand. He reported experiencing numbness in the hand, but as this article is being written no further updates are available. In an unrelated situation, he was also lifted from Saturday night’s game due to cramping in his calves. Check in on Pham’s progress before deciding on whether or not to put him in your weekly lineup.