My fantasy baseball injury report is a fluid document that gets updated every few days depending on what happens in between the time the articles are published. The players and the nature of the injuries change each time, but what is consistent is that there is a ton of new material to write about every single time. There are no breaks, there is no down time, there is no dead space to fill up. It seems that every day another impact player (or two, or three) suffers some type of injury and sends fantasy rosters into chaos. Basically, what I am saying is that this article keeps me busy but also makes me depressed because the madness just never stops. So, without further ado, let’s delve into the next edition of the fantasy baseball emergency room.
Day to Day
Gregory Polanco (OF-PIT) – The Pirates multi-talented outfielder left Sunday’s game early after injuring his hamstring while making a nice play in the outfield. The Pirates were off on Monday so they took the opportunity to re-evaluate him. As of now it is unknown whether he will be back on the field against Washington, but if he cannot go then it seems like John Jaso would get the call in Polanco’s place. Polanco has gotten off to a sluggish start batting just .252 with one home run and nine RBI despite having big things predicted for him heading into the season. The Pirates need him more than ever with Starling Marte out for a few months serving his PED suspension.
Adam Jones (OF-BAL) – Veteran outfielder Adam Jones has been dealing with a sore hip and was given the day off on Sunday. Baltimore also had an off day on Monday so Jones was given extra time to rest and heal up. He is expected back in the lineup on Tuesday and remains one of the league’s most consistent and durable players. Except for missing 25 games in 2015, he has played in at least 149 games every season since 2010 and his statistics are like clockwork by the end of each year. He is an underrated fantasy player but someone you love having on your roster as an OF2 or OF3 because you know exactly what you are going to get.
Carlos Carrasco (SP-CLE) – Alarm bells went off on Monday night when Carrasco was taken out of Monday night’s start against Tampa Bay with tightness in his left pectoral muscle. It was evident something was wrong because he got rocked for five runs in 3.2 innings while lacking command and seeing his velocity drop. Carrasco has been an absolute stud thus far winning four games and having a stellar 2.80 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 52 strikeouts in 52 innings despite this last bad start. He will have to be re-evaluated in the next day or two to determine the severity of the injury and whether he can take the mound for his next start. The Indians don’t seem to think the injury is serious, but we should know more information in the middle of the week.
Dexter Fowler (OF-STL) – Fowler has been battling a shoulder injury for over a week now and still does not appear to be 100%. He came back and played a few games in a row before sitting out on Sunday. The Cardinals outfield is depleted with injuries right now so they need Fowler in the lineup more than ever. He is expected to play on Tuesday but if the injury lingers then he may require days off here and there or a stint on the disabled list to let the shoulder fully heal. His statistics do not currently warrant being started in fantasy leagues, but he has too much upside to discard.
Asdrubal Cabrera (SS-NYM) – Decision time regarding Cabrera’s injured thumb is expected at some point on Tuesday. The Mets front office claims Cabrera is dealing with an injury to the joint of his left thumb and not the ligament, so that is positive news. That may not make a difference when it comes to the disabled list, but it could mean a short ten-day stint on the DL will be enough for him to heal up. Cabrera has been pedestrian thus far with the bat hitting .257 with three home runs and 14 RBI. Those numbers are rosterable for a middle infield option in deep leagues so he still does have fantasy value. Expect Jose Reyes to play more shortstop which will help his positional flexibility and hopefully see him get his batting average back over the Mendoza Line. Mets prospect Amed Rosario is not expected to be called up yet so hold your horses.
On the DL
Aroldis Chapman (RP-NYY) – The Yankees high-priced closer has been put on the disabled list with inflammation of his left rotator cuff and he is expected to be out at least a month. The Yankees will shut him down for a couple weeks before he can consider resuming any type of throwing program. This is a devastating loss for both the Yankees and fantasy GMs who were banking on another season of dominance. The Yankees have been one of the best teams in baseball which bodes well for the number of save chances Chapman was in line for, but now the closing duties will fall on Dellin Betances who has not exactly had pristine results in the ninth inning. Betances is clearly a must-add and must-start in Chapman’s absence, and Chapman should absolutely be stashed on your bench or DL.
Ryan Braun (OF-MIL) – The Brewers seem to think Braun’s calf injury is nothing significant to be worried about, but it lingered long enough where they had to make the roster move so they were not playing short-handed. It didn’t seem to matter over the weekend in their sweep of the Mets. Braun is also dealing with a right flexor strain so these days off should hopefully get him close to 100% in all areas. He has had a solid start to the season hitting in the middle of Milwaukee’s surprising offensive juggernaut. The pressure is off of him to carry the lineup with Eric Thames emerging as a huge power bat. Look for Braun to return once eligible and build on his .287 batting average with seven home runs and 18 RBI. Hernan Perez filled in for Braun on Sunday and should see some extra at bats which makes him a solid fantasy option thanks to his speed and the fact he is batting .291 with five home runs thus far.
A.J. Pollock (OF-ARZ) – Pollock is developing into one of the most fragile players in the league as it seems like he is always injured. The Diamondbacks placed him on the disabled list with a Grade 1 strain of his right groin. The good news is that this is the least severe and it is not the same groin which he injured in 2016. He shouldn’t miss much more than the allotted ten days, but it is still frustrating for fantasy GMs who were benefiting from Pollock getting into a groove and hitting the ball well the past week to ten days. Gfegor Blanco and Raymond Fuentes should share opportunities to play for Pollock, but don’t break he FAAB bank for either of them.
Hunter Pence (OF-SF) – The Giants placed Pence on the disabled list retroactive to May 13 with a hamstring injury. This comes as no surprise since he missed several games in a row and the shortened 10-day DL made a lot of sense because this way he wouldn’t miss much more time as a result of the roster transaction. While Pence should be back when eligible, or at least shortly thereafter, there should be some concern about his durability and health over the past couple seasons. He missed 56 games in 2017 and 110 games in 2016, so the trend is heading in the wrong direction for him. Journeyman outfielder Justin Ruggiano has been filling in for Pence and should see most of the at bats in his absence. Ruggiano has some power so he could be a viable filler for this week while Pence is out.
Carlos Gomez (OF-TEX) – Besides hitting for the cycle a few weeks ago, it has been a disappointing season thus far for Carlos Gomez. The Rangers outfielder is batting just .246 with four home runs, 13 RBI and five stolen bases to go along with an ugly 44 strikeouts in 142 at bats. He will have plenty of time to come up with a game plan on how to improve those numbers now that he will be out four to six weeks with a hamstring injury. The Rangers are expected to call up Jared Hoying to take Gomez’s roster spot but Ryan Rua and Delino DeShields will see the most playing time. The fact that Jurickson Profar will likely remain in the minor leagues shows how far the former prospect has seen his fortunes fade.
Yunel Escobar (3B-LAA) – The Angels have placed Yunel Escobar on the disabled list with a hamstring injury and he is expected to be out for at least two to four weeks. I say it over and over again here on the injury report how difficult it is to predict how long a player will be out when suffering from a hamstring injury. The fact that many MLB teams try and prognosticate at an early stage is frustrating because there really is no way to know. Escobar will need to be shut down to allow his muscle to heal, and depending on how that goes he can ease back into baseball activities and test it. My point is that the time table for his return should lean towards the longer estimate, and even that is conservative when it comes to these types of injuries. Luis Valbuena will play most of the third base in his absence and is worth a waiver wire transaction due to the power he has displayed in recent years.
On the Mend
Robinson Cano (2B-SEA) – Cano missed his fifth straight game after being scratched on Monday which led to some alarms going off and a potential stint on the disabled list. However, Cano reported that he felt better after taking batting practice and ground balls so it is expected he will return to the field on Tuesday. This is great news for GMs who have missed his huge bat on their rosters. Cano sets the standard at second base and has not disappointed batting .296 with eight home runs and 28 RBI thus far. He is normally one of the most durable players in the league so hopefully this bout with quad soreness is now in the past.
Steven Matz (SP-NYM) – There has been so much negative to write about the Mets this season that it is refreshing to write something potentially positive. Matz has missed the entire season thus far with an elbow injury but is expected to begin a rehab assignment later this week at St. Lucie which is the Mets High-A affiliate. Seth Lugo is also supposed to pitch in the same game so they are both on track for a potential return in early June. Matz and Lugo will provide much needed reinforcements to a battered and beaten pitching staff, but questions will remain all season with them on whether they can stay healthy. Matz certainly is worth obtaining off the waiver wire if he is available, but Lugo doesn’t have as big an upside despite his impressive September last year.
Michael A. Stein, Esq. is the Chief Justice of Fantasy Judgment, the industry's premier dispute resolution service, and co-host of the Fantasy Alarm Podcast. You can contact him at email@example.com or on Facebook and Twitter (@FantasyJudgment).