2018 MLB Injury Report: March 20
Michael A. Stein breaks down the injury situations across Major League Baseball, including player profiles, reasons for optimism, and reasons for pessimism.
We are just over a week away from Opening Day and right smack in the middle of fantasy baseball draft season. Now is the critical point in spring training where we are getting a sense whether players will or will not be ready for the start of the season which is crucial for your draft strategy. It is imperative that you consider the nature of some of these injuries because teams are likely going to be conservative and cautious with players, even if the injuries are minor. Do not get scared away from players who are being rested for extended periods of time. So without further ado, here is the next edition of the fantasy baseball emergency room.
Justin Turner (3B-LAD)
Terrible news for Justin Turner and fantasy GMs as the Dodgers third baseman has suffered a fractured left wrist. He was hit by a pitch on Monday night and there is no time frame yet on how long he may be out. It can easily be expected that he will miss at least six weeks which puts us well into May. This is a big loss for fantasy owners who have already drafted Turner as one of the cornerstones of their team as he is coming off a terrific 2017 season in which he hit .322 with 21 home runs, 71 RBI, 72 runs scored and seven stolen bases in 130 games. Look for Logan Forsythe or Chris Taylor to see opportunities at third base as the Dodgers do have roster flexibility to move people around while Turner recovers.
Zack Greinke (SP-ARZ)
Greinke threw a successful bullpen session on Sunday and is optimistic that he will be on the mound during the first weekend of the season. He has been dealing with a groin injury but took a big step forward with this latest outing. Greinke’s draft value has slipped a little because of the injury, but when healthy he is a solid top-of-the-rotation fantasy option after going 17-7 with a 3.20 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 215 strikeouts in 202.1 innings over 32 starts in 2017. He has been durable for most of the last decade so don’t hesitate to grab him after the top tier pitchers are taken off the board.
Yoenis Cespedes (OF-NYM)
Cespedes returned to the Mets’ lineup on Monday and had a base hit in three at bats. This was his first game action since he received a cortisone shot in his right wrist which kept him out of action for several days. He should be just fine for Opening Day next week, but there is no doubt that Cespedes does come with a lot of risk given his injury history the past couple seasons. He missed 81 games last year due to various leg injuries, so make you sure you have sufficient outfield depth if you decide to draft him.
Jose Ramirez (2B/3B-CLE)
Ramirez suffered a bone bruise in his ankle over the weekend but returned to the lineup on Monday. This is great news for GMs who spent an early-round pick on him in drafts. Ramirez has emerged as an elite fantasy player after hitting .318 with 29 home runs, 83 RBI, 107 runs scored and 17 stolen bases last year and is eligible at multiple positions. This injury was nothing to be concerned about so continue targeting him with your second or third pick of a draft in any format.
Nelson Cruz (DH-SEA)
The Mariners have suffered injury after injury during spring training and this includes designated hitter Nelson Cruz. He had missed some time with an illness and then came back only to suffer a Grade 1 strain of his quadriceps. This was concerning for fantasy GMs given Cruz is 37-years old, but it appears he is on the mend and expected to be ready for Opening Day. Despite his advanced age, Cruz continues to be one of the most prolific power hitters and run producers in the league as he is coming off a 2017 season in which he hit .288 with 39 home runs, 119 RBI and 91 runs scored at 37 years of age. His draft value could slip a little due to this injury, so jump on the opportunity to draft him at a better bargain value.
Daniel Murphy (2B-WAS)
The consensus right now is that Daniel Murphy will begin the season on the disabled list. He has been working his way back from off-season microfracture surgery which does have a lengthy recovery time. There was some initial hope that Murphy could be ready for Opening Day, but that seems unlikely at this point. No official word has come out of Washington, but Murphy has not played in a game yet and we are just nine days from Opening Day. When healthy, Murphy is a highly productive fantasy player so he is worth stashing even if he does miss a couple weeks to start the season.
Robinson Cano (2B-SEA)
Seattle is planning on resting Cano until Wednesday to give him sufficient time to rest and recover from his hamstring injury he sustained last week. Cano is no longer a spring chicken, so it is imperative that he not be rushed back before he is fully healed in order to maintain his status as one of the most dependable and durable players in the league. Cano has played 150 games every season since 2007 and is coming off a year in which he hit .280 with 23 home runs, 97 RBI and 79 runs scored easily making him one of the top three or four second baseman to draft in any league format.
Michael Conforto (OF-NYM)
When Michael Conforto fell to the ground after swinging last year, it looked like his career could be over before it ever really got started. However, the torn posterior capsule he suffered seems to be healing well ahead of schedule as he managed to play in a minor league game over the weekend. He won’t be ready for Opening Day, but the time table for his return appears to be greatly expedited meaning he should be targeted much earlier than where he is generally being taken in drafts.
Drew Pomeranz (SP-BOS)
Pomeranz is recovering from a forearm injury and took a big step over the weekend by throwing 33 pitches during batting practice. He is hoping to get into a spring training game soon barring any setbacks. Given how far behind he is, it is likely that he won’t be ready for Opening Day but he shouldn’t miss much time if he does respond well to these tests. Pomeranz is coming off a very solid 2017 season in which he went 17-6 with a 3.32 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 174 strikeouts in 173.2 innings.
Jharel Cotton (SP-OAK)
It had been expected that Cotton was going to be in Oakland’s starting rotation this year despite struggling quite a bit in 2017. He compiled a 9-10 record with a 5.58 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 105 strikeouts in 129 innings over 24 starts last year. Unfortunately, he needs Tommy John surgery after obtaining a second opinion on his elbow injury and will miss the entire season. He could potentially make his return at some point early in 2019 given the time frame on when pitchers have typically come back from this operation. For now, he should remain undrafted and is not worth protecting in keeper leagues.
Jerad Eickhoff (SP-PHI)
The Phillies are expected to be an improved team this year after making some lucrative free agent acquisitions and continuing to develop some of their younger players. Eickhoff was expected to be the team’s third started despite struggling in 2017 with a 4-8 record and a 4.71 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in 128 innings over the course of 24 starts. He sustained a strained lat muscle and is expected to miss up to two months. This bumps Vincent Velasquez up to the third spot in the Phillies’ rotation. Eickhoff should not be drafted except for NL-only leagues where he can be stashed on the disabled list.