2019 MLB Injury Report: March 8
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 a couple weeks away from the start of the 2019 baseball season which means we are hot and heavy in draft mode right now. When news breaks about players’ injuries, it sends shockwaves throughout the fantasy baseball community because it affects GMs perceptions of those players and their commensurate draft value. GMs need to be sure not to overreact to things, but they also must take all injuries into consideration before making decisions on when or whether to draft a certain player. So without further ado, here is the next edition of the fantasy baseball emergency room for the 2019 season.
Luis Severino (SP-NYY)
The Yankees ace pitcher has been shut down for a couple weeks with rotator cuff inflammation in his right shoulder. The alarm bells went off earlier this week when he was scratched from his last spring training start when he said something did not feel right in shoulder. Severino underwent an MRI which fortunately only revealed the inflammation and nothing else. This is positive news as it could have been much worse than that. Severino will undoubtedly begin the season on the injured list but could be back in mid to late April if all goes well once he starts throwing again. Look for Domingo Germán , Jonathan Loaisiga and Luis Cessa to compete to take Severino’s place in the rotation while he out. As for draft strategy, this obviously moves Severino down the board slightly so target pitchers like Blake Snell , Noah Syndergaard , Carlos Carrasco and Aaron Nola over Severino at this point.
José Altuve (2B-HOU)
The Astros held Altuve out of the lineup on Thursday as the elite second baseman is dealing with soreness in his left side. Houston does not consider this a serious issue and they are just being cautious with their star player by giving him some additional rest. There is no reason for concern at this point so continue drafting Altuve in the first round and expect elite production from him once again.
Clayton Kershaw (SP-LAD)
Clayton Kershaw ’s ADP continues to drop as the former Cy Young Award winner continues to try and work his way through a lingering shoulder injury. He threw from 60-feet away to a catcher on Thursday which is good news, but it still remains to be seen how he feels following that and what the next steps are in terms of his progress. What we do know is that Kershaw will not be ready for Opening Day because he is still several steps away from game action and getting into season mode. There is a lot to be concerned about here, especially since Kershaw has not been a bastion of health the past several years. Ross Stripling would take Kershaw’s place in the Dodgers’ rotation which makes him a great fantasy option coming off a very solid 2018 season in which he both started and relieved. Do not draft Kershaw as your ace, but if he is still available in later rounds after you have the foundation with your staff then he could be a bargain if he does not miss much time.
Alex Bregman (3B-HOU)
Bregman had elbow surgery earlier this winter but was fully expected to be ready for Opening Day. He got into game action last week and was well on his way to fulfilling that expectation. However, he was taken out of Wednesday’s game against Miami with stiffness in his back. The Astros do not consider this serious and are expected to be overly cautious with Bregman if he has any ongoing issues. Right now there does not appear to be any concern about his status for Opening Day, but keep it in the back of your mind for drafting purposes that he is recovering from elbow surgery while also resting a stiff back.
Aaron Hicks (OF-NYY)
Hicks has missed several spring training games this week due to stiffness in his back. It did not subside quickly so he underwent an MRI which did not reveal any structural issues. He did some offensive drills and started throwing again later in the week, and the Yankees reported that he is doing much better at this point. Right now he does not appear in any danger of missing Opening Day, so fantasy GMs can still go ahead and draft him with OF3 value. While he did hit .248 with 27 home runs, 79 RBI, 90 runs scored and 11 stolen bases last year, injuries have always been a concern with him so be prepared for a stint on the injured list at some point.
Salvador Pérez (C-KC)
The catching position is already scarce in terms of fantasy leagues, but now it is even worse with the news that Salvador Pérez will miss the entire season after undergoing Tommy John surgery this week. Perez sustained a tear of his right UCL so surgery was inevitable. He has been one of the most consistent offensive catchers in the league, so much so that he hit 27 home runs with 80 RBI in 129 games in both 2017 and 2018. Cam Gallagher is projected to be the Royals starting catcher unless or until they dip into the free agent market and sign a veteran to take over.
Yadier Molina (C-STL)
Speaking of catchers, one of the all-time greats is on the way back as Yadier Molina will make his spring debut on Friday. He underwent a surgical procedure on his knee back in December and is set to be the DH for the Cardinals before getting back behind the plate this weekend. Molina has been a solid fantasy catcher for many years occasionally displaying power and always having a respectable batting average. The future Hall of Famer is coming off one of his best seasons in which he hit .261 with 20 home runs and 74 RBI. There is no reason he cannot replicate that in 2019 if he can stay healthy and benefit from the presence of Paul Goldschmidt in the Cardinals lineup.
A.J. Minter (RP-ATL)
Braves relief pitcher A.J. Minter was taken out of a spring training game late last week with some tightness in his left shoulder. The good news is that the Braves do not think the injury is serious as he was already feeling improvement earlier this week. Minter stepped in as the closer last year when Arodys Vizcaíno was out and collected 15 saves to go along with a 3.23 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. He will likely be a primary set-up man for Atlanta but is the first in line for 9th inning duties should Vizcaino get hurt or struggle.
Miguel Sano (3B-MIN)
The Twins signed Marwin González a couple weeks ago to be their super-utility player and it looks like he already has his first assignment. Miguel Sano had a debridement procedure last week on a laceration on his right Achilles heel and is expected to miss the entire first month of the season. Sano sustained the injury during the championship game of the Dominican Winter League and had been in a walking boot to help the healing process. Unfortunately, the wound was not progressing so now he will be out until May which greatly diminishes his draft value. Sano is coming off a disastrous 2018 season so GMs banking on a rebound will have to wait awhile to have that come to fruition.
Devon Travis (2B-TOR)
Travis underwent an MRI on his injured left knee and the results did not reveal any structural damage. He has dealt with knee injuries for much of his career and his status for Opening Day is now in jeopardy. The Blue Jays could be turning the page on Travis as Lourdes Gurriel figures to play a lot of second base, especially if Travis misses any time. Travis’s fantasy value has plummeted over the years and he likely won’t get drafted in standard 12-team leagues.
Chris Davis (1B-BAL)
Davis was taken out of Tuesday’s spring training game with a left hip injury. He underwent an MRI as a precautionary measure but he has already reported feeling better. Not to anyone’s surprise, but Davis has struggled mightily in spring training thus far going 1-for-12 with seven strikeouts. This is essentially on par with what to expect from him in the regular season, so keep him off your draft boards outside of extremely deep leagues with an unlimited bench.