Opening Day is just a couple weeks away which means there are lots of fantasy baseball drafts scheduled over the next 16 days. Critical decisions must be made on players who have suffered injuries in spring training which creates a dilemma for GMs when it comes to evaluating players and their draft value. At this point in the spring, the risk is greater for pitchers who miss time because there is only a couple more turns through the rotation before Opening Day. Minor setbacks which prompt a couple days of rest should not be considered serious or alter your draft strategies. So without further ado, here is the next edition of the fantasy baseball emergency room.
Kenley Jansen (RP-LAD)
There is no question that Jansen is the best closer in the league and the top fantasy relief pitcher. He is coming off of an epic 2017 season in which he went 5-0 with 41 saves and a 1.32 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, and 109 strikeouts in only 68.1 innings. He experienced some tightness in his right hamstring late last week and did not appear in a game last Friday as he was originally scheduled. Jansen appeared in a minor league game on Monday and reported that he was fine. There is no cause for concern about this now so you should continue drafting him with confidence as the premier closer in the league.
Robinson Cano (2B-SEA)
Cano suffered a hamstring injury this past weekend and was forced out of Sunday’s spring training game. He underwent an MRI which came back negative and is only expected to miss a few days. This should be comforting for GMs who can get great value for Cano in drafts. He is coming off of another solid season in which he hit .280 with 23 home runs and 97 RBI. He has been the model of consistency and durability throughout his career despite missing some time last season with quadriceps and hamstring injuries.
Eddie Rosario (OF-MIN)
The Twins surprised a lot of people in 2017 and have taken another step forward by improving their lineup this winter with the addition of Logan Morrison. He should help provide protection for Eddie Rosario who is coming off a terrific year in which he hit .290 with 27 home runs, 78 RBI, 79 runs scored and nine stolen bases. Rosario has been dealing with tendinitis in his triceps and has not been permitted to throw for several days. He is hoping to be back as a DH in spring training games which is a positive development, but he will need to resume throwing before we can be fully confident of his status. There is still just over two weeks left of spring training so he has time to be ready for Opening Day barring any setbacks.
Michael Conforto (OF-NYM)
Conforto continues to recover from shoulder surgery and has progressed nicely thus far this spring. He is hopeful to make his debut in Grapefruit League games next week which could bump up his expected return date from early May to sometime in April. Conforto’s draft value has been diminished due to the injury and the time he was expected to miss, but if he remains ahead of schedule then his ADP could shoot up in the next two weeks.
Evan Longoria (3B-SF)
The long-time Tampa Bay Ray is in first spring training with another organization and is currently dealing with soreness in his left ankle. He was scratched from the lineup late last week with the injury but proclaimed that he will be just fine and that he will play when he is ready. There is no reason to doubt Longoria who has rarely missed any time due to injuries throughout his career. He should be fine for Opening Day so he should continue to be drafted in the middle rounds as a corner infield option or for depth at third base.
Marcus Stroman (SP-TOR)
There has been a lot of concern about Stroman who has been dealing with inflammation in his right shoulder since late February. He has been shut down since then but could possibly pitch in a simulated game this coming weekend. He is scheduled to have a bullpen session this week which will likely determine whether he can progress towards that simulated game. Stroman has been ruled out for Opening Day, but he could possibly be ready shortly thereafter if he is able to avoid any setbacks.
Javier Baez (2B-CHC)
It took a couple years for Baez to figure things out, and now he is a highly productive fantasy player coming off a season where he hit .273 with 23 home runs, 75 RBI, 75 runs scored and ten stolen bases. Baez injured his left hamstring last week and has been sidelined since. He underwent an MRI which did not reveal any damage and he is expected back in the lineup any day now. Baez will be just fine for Opening Day and is a solid fantasy option if you miss out on the upper echelon choices like Jose Altuve, Jonathan Schoop, Robinson Cano and Brian Dozier.
J.T. Realmuto (C-MIA)
Realmuto survived the Marlins’ purge this offseason despite requesting a trade and figures to be one of the better fantasy catchers in the league. In 2017, he hit .278 with 17 home runs, 65 RBI, 68 runs scored and eight stolen bases in 141 games. Last week he missed a few games with a bruised left knee and returned over the weekend only to sustain a back contusion when he was picked off second base. It is expected he will miss a couple days but is expected back soon without any concern at this point.
Justin Bour (1B-MIA)
Bour had a very productive 2017 season in which he hit .289 with 25 home runs and 83 RBI in just 108 games. He could have easily reached 40 home runs had he not missed 54 games due to injury. He was scratched from the lineup over the weekend with back spasms and the Marlins are being cautious with their slugger to ensure he properly recovers. Bour is expected back this week and is a great source for power later in drafts.
Jeurys Familia (RP-NYM)
It was a disastrous 2017 season for Familia in which he was limited to only 26 appearances due to a suspension and injuries. He is looking to reclaim his dominance as a closer even though Mickey Callaway could utilize other options in the ninth inning at times. Familia is now dealing with a dead arm after he got shelled last week. He claims this happens every year so it is nothing new for him and he does not seem concerned at all about it. Familia is expected to be fine after some rest and should still be drafted in the midst of second-tier closers.
Andrelton Simmons (SS-LAA)
Simmons provided great value for fantasy GMs in 2017 hitting .278 with 14 home runs, 69 RBI, 77 runs scored and 19 stolen bases. He suffered a strained left shoulder late last week which was confirmed by an MRI. He is considered day-to-day at this point and there is no reason to suspect he will not be ready by Opening Day.
By: Michael A. Stein (@FantasyJudgment)