This week’s injury report features several big name starting pitchers and some pretty staggering late breaking COVID-19 related news which is leading some to already question whether or not the MLB season can be completed.

The Marlins are a prime example of how quickly the COVID-19 virus can spread across a baseball roster. As this article was being written they initially confirmed that pitcher José Ureña , first baseman Garrett Cooper and outfielder Harold Ramirez had all tested positive for the virus. On Monday morning, ESPN reported that a total of eight more players and two coaches had tested positive for COVID-19. This cluster of positive COVID-19 tests is especially concerning, and exactly the type of situation that MLB was desperately hoping to avoid. As a result the Marlins canceled their Monday home opener.

Could these cases stem from the Marlins visit to Atlanta when they played an exhibition game against the Braves this past Wednesday? As we’ll see the Braves have their own possible COVID related scare that they’re dealing with.

The Reds are another team that are trying to contain their own COVID related mini-cluster.

Unfortunately we fantasy baseball players need to be even more proactive when managing our fantasy rosters this season and learn to expect the unexpected. Our best defense against the virus is rostering a deep team consisting of as many multi-positional eligible players as possible.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the injuries to fantasy relevant players that we fantasy players will have to work around to as we head into the first full week of the 2020 MLB season.


Starting Pitcher

Justin Verlander , Houston Astros

Fantasy players owning Verlander shares went on an emotional roller coaster of a ride early Sunday evening. The Houston Chronicle reported that Verlander would be shut down for the remainder of the season due to an elbow injury. A little while later Astros manager Dusty Baker announced that Verlander would only be shut down for “a couple of weeks” due to a right forearm strain. A couple of weeks from now is mid-August and with just 10 weeks remaining in the regular season that’s a relatively long time. With Brad Peacock hitting the IL this week and Jose Urquidy cleared to join the team but not yet game ready, the Astros are in a bit of a bind. Astros prospect Cristian Javier is one of the more intriguing under the radar names being mentioned as a possible replacement for Verlander in the Astros rotation. The 23 year old has had some control issues in the past, but boasts a career minor league 2.22 ERA, 1.029 WHIP and 12.2 K/9. 

Corey Kluber , Texas Rangers

Kluber was forced to exit his Sunday start against the Rockies after just one inning pitched due to tightness in the back of his right shoulder. According to the Dallas Morning News he started feeling the tightness almost immediately after his first pitch of his first start for the Rangers. The discomfort progressively got worse with each of the 18 pitches he threw in his one inning of work. He will be further evaluated this week. As per Rangers manager Chris Woodward, Joe Palumbo (career minor league stats: 2.72, ERA, 1.148 WHIP, 10.7 K/9) will be a candidate to have a role in the Rangers starting rotation should Kluber be forced to miss time. 

Stephen Strasburg

Strasburg was forced to skip his Saturday night start against the Yankees due to a nerve impingement originating from his wrist. The condition is effecting his ability to feel the baseball in his pitching hand. Strasburg revealed that it’s been an issue since the start of summer camp and that he received a cortisone type of injection to help alleviate the condition. He is being listed as day to day and wasn’t yet been placed on the IL as of the time that this article is being written. Nationals’ manager Dave Martinez and Strasburg both tried to downplay the severity of the injury, but this is a situation that needs to be watched carefully.

Eduardo Rodríguez , Boston Red Sox

As we discussed last week Rodriguez recovered from COVID-19 but admitted that he was “hit really hard” by the disease. Unfortunately he is still feeling the after effects of the insidious disease and is now suffering from myocarditis, a heart condition often caused by viral infections like the coronavirus. Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke called the condition “minor” but it may be a while before Rodriguez is able to take the mound.

Clayton Kershaw , Los Angeles Dodgers

Kershaw hit the IL due to back stiffness just hours before his scheduled opening day start against the Giants, but he and the Dodgers are optimistic that he won’t be sidelined for too long. The brief 15 pitch bullpen session he threw this past Sunday is a small step in the right direction for Kershaw. The Dodgers can afford to take baby steps when it comes to this injury because of their starting pitching depth. Dustin May will make another start in place of Kershaw this Wednesday. The soonest that Kershaw can come off the IL is next weekend. For now we’ll share in the Dodgers’ and Kershaw’s optimism, but his history of back injuries makes this latest setback especially concerning.

Jake Odorizzi , Minnesota Twins

Odorizzi opened the season on the IL due to a right intercostal strain, but is expected to throw to live hitters this week. If all goes well it’s possible he may join the Twins starting rotation next weekend.

Marcus Stroman , New York Mets

Stroman had been dealing with what was referred to as calf tightness for a while leading up to the season. He was finally officially diagnosed with a calf tear and opened the season on the IL. The good news is that he’s able to continue his throwing regimen. The Mets will evaluate Stroman’s progress on a weekly basis. As this article is being written the Mets have not revealed who will take Stroman’s place in the rotation. Corey Oswalt was expected to be the favorite to fill in for Stroman, but was ineffective in relief on Sunday night against the Braves and optioned to the Mets’ alternate site. Some have speculated that Seth Lugo would be a good choice to join the rotation but for now, the Mets have confirmed he will continue to work out of the bullpen.

Masahiro Tanaka , New York Yankees

Tanaka began the season on the seven day concussion injured list. He will throw a series of batting practice sessions and barring any setbacks, is expected to be ready to join the Yankees rotation on July 31st. According to ESPN he will wear a hard-shell protective cap insert in games this season. Hold onto him if you have an IL spot.



Jorge Alfaro , Miami Marlins

Alfaro was placed on the IL just prior to the start of the Marlins’ Opening Day game against the Phillies. No explanation was given and as per Health Insurance Policy and Accountability Act (HIPAA) no explanation is required. In the meantime, if Francisco Cervelli is available on your league’s waiver wire, grab him.

Tyler Flowers and Travis d’Arnaud, Atlanta Braves

Despite neither Flowers nor d’Arnaud having tested positive for COVID-19, both did not travel to New York with the rest of the team this past weekend because they displayed symptoms consistent with the coronavirus. The Braves were concerned that either or both may have previously received false negative test results and didn’t want to take the chance of them infecting the rest of the roster. They will continue to be tested for the virus. Alex Jackson and William Contreras will fill in until either Flowers or d’Arnaud is cleared to return to the team.

Second Base

Mike Moustakas , Cincinnati Reds

According to Reds manager David Bell, Moustakas “woke up not feeling well” Sunday morning and was placed on the IL. The Reds had to rework their lineup a couple of times this past Sunday. Nick Senzel was originally penciled in as Moustakas’ replacement, but was also scratched after he was feeling sick as well. This all comes on the heel of Reds DH Matt Davidson being placed on the COVID-19 injured list after he tested positive for the coronavirus on Saturday.

Third Base

Anthony Rendon , Los Angeles Angels

Rendon continues to suffer from an oblique injury that has caused him to miss the first three games of the season. We mentioned that oblique injuries can be tricky and sometimes take a while to heal in last week’s column. Prepare for a long absence and hope that you’re over reacting and over preparing.  


Juan Soto , Washington Nationals

Soto tested positive for the coronavirus and was placed on the COVID-19 IL this past Thursday. His situation is a good example of how difficult it will be for both fantasy players and MLB to navigate the 2020 season. Soto had multiple negative test results following the initial positive test result, but since those negative results weren’t cleared by MLB’s Utah based lab, they don’t count. The rest of the Nationals roster was tested on Thursday following Soto’s diagnosis and the results were all negative for COVID-19. Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post, confirmed that Soto received the first MLB “lab-confirmed” negative result he needs to return to the team on Saturday. Test results need to be 24 hours apart and it takes 48 hours for test results to be confirmed. It doesn’t appear that he’ll be out for too long. In fact he may receive his second negative test result back by the time you’re reading this article.