Fantasy Baseball Injury Report: July 18
Michael Stein brings you all the latest updates on injuries around MLB and the fantasy impact of players going on and coming off the DL.
We are now in the dog days of summer which are typically the toughest on the health of baseball players having to be on the field day after day in the grueling heat after having already played 100 games. Now is the time when you need depth and surplus on your roster to have as insurance in case someone goes down or to allow you flexibility to negotiate a trade. Another factor to consider is that many MLB teams are very secure in their place in the standings. If teams like the Astros, Dodgers and Nationals get an opportunity to rest a player who is banged up then they are going to be overly cautious and hold players out to avoid the risk of a long-term injury. So, without further ado, let’s delve into the next edition of the fantasy baseball emergency room.
Day to Day
Carlos Correa (SS-HOU) – Correa was forced out of Monday’s game with a jammed thumb that he sustained on a swing. He dealt with a thumb injury earlier this year so it would appear that this was a re-aggravation of that injury. Correa is clearly one of the top players in all of baseball, both MLB and fantasy. He has delivered elite statistics with a .320 batting average along with 20 home runs, 67 RBI and 64 runs scored. It is highly likely that he will sit out another game or two as a precautionary measure because Houston will not want to jeopardize the health of their former number one pick. Marwin Gonzalez would likely play shortstop in Correa’s place which is further proof of why Gonzalez is the most valuable utility player in all of baseball.
J.D. Martinez (OF-DET) – Martinez missed the first part of the season with a Lisfranc sprain in his foot, and there was concern about whether he would be able to play through it once he returned. Those concerns have been quelled thanks to Martinez’s .305 batting average with 16 home runs, 39 RBI and 38 runs scored in just 57 games. He is also being discussed as a trade candidate with the Tigers looking to shed money and obtain prospects. Martinez was taken out of Monday’s game with tightness in his lower back and is considered day-to-day at this point. Detroit indicated they were being overly cautious with Martinez so he is not expected to miss much time, if any at all. In all likelihood, he will get another day off and be back in the lineup by Wednesday assuming there is no lingering tightness.
Alcides Escobar (SS-KC) – Escobar was taken out of Monday’s game after being hit by a pitch on his left wrist. He was taken for x-rays which came back negative, so Escobar could return to the lineup on Tuesday assuming there is no pain or swelling. He has been a big disappointment for fantasy GMs who expected moderate production from Escobar with batting average and some stolen bases. Instead, he has produced a paltry .233 batting average with just three home runs, 29 RBI and only two stolen bases. He would only be worth rostering in deep mixed leagues with a middle infield spot or 12-team AL-only leagues.
Brandon Belt (1B-SF) – The Giants have been a mess all season and are in dire need of a roster makeover because their style does not mesh with the power surge we are seeing all across the league. Belt is one of the few players on the Giants roster who elicits some offensive threat with his 16 home runs and 44 RBI. However, he is only batting .244 and has struck out 91 times in 328 at bats. Belt has missed a couple games after spraining his left wrist over the weekend. The good news is that he was available to play defense on Monday and could be back in the lineup on Tuesday if all goes well after he swings a bat. Belt’s fantasy value lies in his eligibility at multiple positions as he has never really developed into the complete hitter many thought he would become.
Mitch Haniger (OF-SEA) – Haniger has missed a couple games with a finger injury he sustained trying to bunt over the weekend. Maybe someone ought to send him a copy of Tom Emanski’s Bunting Skills videos and he would learn to keep his fingers properly behind the bat. Haniger has spent a lot of time on the bench with injuries this year being limited to only 49 games. He got off to a torrid start before his first injury and the numbers have come back down to earth with his .265 batting average along with seven home runs and 23 RBI. He has lost his fantasy luster from earlier this season but could still be a OF4 or OF5 in deep leagues when healthy.
Francisco Liriano (SP-TOR) – The numbers aren’t pretty for Liriano who has lost any fantasy relevance this season. He is 5-5 with a 6.04 ERA, 1.67 WHIP and has 39/64 walk to strikeout ratio in only 70 innings. If Liriano is on your fantasy roster then something has gone terribly wrong this season. He left his last start on Saturday with neck and back pain and complained of being extremely sore. He has been receiving treatment and apparently will not undergo an MRI. We don’t know yet whether Liriano will make his next start, but if you care about your composite statistics then you should be hoping that he does not.
Wilson Ramos (C-TB) – Ramos recently returned after undergoing knee surgery last October and made his debut with the Rays in June. Through ten games he is batting .243 with three home runs and ten RBI after having an elite season in 2016 before getting hurt. He has now missed three straight games with a hamstring injury but is expected to return to the lineup on Tuesday. Tampa Bay is right in the middle of the playoff race so they will need Ramos’ veteran leadership and offense in their lineup. He is a viable starting option at catcher in deep leagues assuming he is healthy.
On the DL
Johnny Cueto (SP-SF) – Just as Madison Bumgarner was activated, the Giants placed their other ace on the disabled list. Cueto has been dealing with several blisters on his right hand and has been shut down from throwing. It has been a very frustrating year for Cueto who is 6-7 with a 4.59 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and 103 strikeouts in 115.2 innings. He has failed to deliver for fantasy GMs who likely spent an early draft pick or significant auction dollars to acquire his services. He is a great buy-low candidate before your league’s trade deadline so see if you can make a deal right now while he is hurt.
Michael Pineda (SP-NYY) – There is no more mystery as Pineda will officially undergo Tommy John surgery on Tuesday. The timing of this injury and surgery is awful for Pineda who is a free agent at the end of the season. We have seen pitchers come back in roughly just over a year, but it’s rare and risky for such an expedient return. It is possible he could pitch at the end of next season, but the more likely scenario is that he won’t return until 2019. There will be plenty of teams looking to sign him at a discount so Pineda will be employed. However, it will be quite some time before he will do anything to earn that upcoming paycheck.
Byron Buxton (OF-MIN) – The Twins placed Buxton on the disabled list after straining his left groin last Friday. The young outfielder has been a prized prospect for a few years but has not delivered offensively thus far. His .216 batting average is problematic but he does have 16 stolen bases. He is expected to return when eligible after ten days so consider adding him if you need a boost in steals in the second half.
Tyler Chatwood (SP-COL) – The Rockies grasp on one of the National League wild card spots will come down to whether they can get enough starting pitching in the second half. Things did not get off to a great start over the weekend against the Mets when Chatwood got lit up after facing just five batters and was removed with a calf injury. He was subsequently placed on the disabled list and there is no time frame for his return just yet. Chatwood is 6-11 with a 4.74 ERA and 1.45 WHIP so it’s not like he was contributing much to the cause before this anyway. He belongs on the waiver wire which is where he should stay.
On the Mend
Noah Syndergaard (SP-NYM) – If you follow Thor on Twitter, then you would know he threw a baseball on Monday for the first time in months. The Mets ace has been out since April with a partially torn lat muscle and has now finally been cleared to start playing catch. It’s a small step but one in the right direction for fantasy GMs who are still hoping to get something out of their top selection this year. The Mets playoff hopes are all but dead, so they likely won’t have much to play for in the second half. It’s possible Syndergaard could return in September, but any type of setback or delay in his rehab would mean the Mets shut him down for good.
Matt Harvey (SP-NYM) – Not only did Noah Syndergaard start throwing on Monday, but the former Dark Knight also resumed throwing a baseball as well. Harvey has been on the disabled list with a scapular injury stemming from last year’s thoracic outlet syndrome surgery and has been working on building strength back in his right shoulder. Harvey’s fall from grace has been epic as he has very little fantasy value right now. His 4-3 record with a 5.25 ERA, 1.45 WHIP and 54 strikeouts in 70.1 innings has landed him on the waiver and there is little reason to believe much would change when or if he does return later this summer.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook and Twitter (@FantasyJudgment).