There are some big names dropping this week. I am less worried about players with broken bones because for the most part they break, they heal. They play. Ligament, muscle, and other meaty bits of your body are a bit trickier to play with. So Ian Desmond and Tom Murphy? Will come back and be fine. Draft ‘em and stash ‘em for a month. Carlos Carrasco, Anthony deSclafani, Jason Kipnis and Sonny Gray? Cause me a bit more concern. These injuries can often linger or flare back up.
Here’s who’s meaty bits have been swelling, inflaming, and tightening this week:
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Carlos Carrasco, CLE, Throwing Elbow Swelling.
In case you were worried, this was a recurring injury from last year, and Carrasco lost the end of 2016 due to a broken bone in his throwing hand. Now, after an appearance on March 14th where he allowed 8 runs in less than 2 innings — he is being checked out for swelling in his throwing elbow. The Indians coaching staff has said that nothing is wrong structurally, but that his fastball was flat. It was just reported that Carrasco’s next Spring start will be skipped. Quick math problem since I’m writing this on Pi Day: Starting Pitcher + Throwing Elbow Issue = Bad Time. A huge blow-up start (even in Spring Training) is usually Chapter 1 of the Tommy John story. Chapter 2: A Visit with Dr. James Andrews.
Anthony deSclafani, CIN, Sprained UCL in Throwing Elbow.
You’re making me look like a fool deSclafani, like a fool! After telling you to not worry about deSclafani last week — he goes and pulls a stunt like this?! Don’t draft him. He’s brought me great shame.
Ian Desmond, COL, Left Hand Fracture.
That’s a gut punch. Ian Desmond was set-up nicely to be an RBI machine in the heart of the top-5 Rockies lineup. Typical time frame of recovery is 3-4 weeks which means he’ll maybe miss the first week or two of games. Drop Desmond a round, but he’s still worth investing in. As for Mark Reynolds, his probable replacement, in 441 at-bats last year he had a .282 average despite a .230 career average, yet only hit 14 HRs, after averaging 30 for his career. I think the .282 was an aberration fueled by a career high .363 BABIP. Expect Reynolds to return to the sub-.250 hitter we all hate and avoid unless the Colorado air really has caused another career resurgence.
Sonny Gray, OAK, Moderate Lat Strain.
We were all hoping to pinch Sonny Gray’s diminutive behind at a discount after his embarrassing 5.69 ERA in 22 starts in 2016. Now, that discount gets even greater. He’s going to be shut down for three weeks which means he will be missing Opening Day and beyond as he restarts his throwing program. His 181 ADP in ESPN leagues is sure to plummet below ownability in standard leagues. You could stash Gray and hope for the 2013-2015 edition — but you could also just say “pass” when it comes to your draft pick and you’ll probably have a better result.
Jason Kipnis, CLE, Strained Rotator Cuff in Throwing Shoulder.
In the February 27th volume of Ambulance Chasers, I told you that Kipnis was shut down for four to five days with the same injury. Here we are two weeks later and Kipnis is being shut down again for another two weeks. Kipnis is going to try and get a second opinion from another doctor — but I’m going to save him a lot of time and give him my second opinion right now: you have a strained rotator cuff. Stop rotating your cuff, say your prayers, take your vitamins and don’t let Hulkamania run wild on you brother! If you’re drafting tomorrow and are still a believer in Kipnis — you can grab him and stash him later than usual and take a multi-position eligible guy like Jose Peraza in the mid-to-late rounds who you can just slide to another position once Kipnis returns.
Tom Murphy, COL, Broken Right Forearm
Good luck sleeping after seeing Tom Murphy’s player photo. Murphy is every expert’s catcher sleeper darling this year since any catcher in Colorado can hit 20 HR. Murphy is a career .282 hitter in the minors with three 20 HR seasons under his belt so the upside is clear. Tony Wolters will fill in for Murphy. Wolters has 12 HR in the past 4 years so he should yield the job back to Murphy immediately upon his return which should be around May 1st.
Charlie Tilson, CWS, Stress Reaction in Right Foot.
Another highlight from the February 27th volume of Ambulance Chasers, Tilson has been prohibited from performing any complicated weight-bearing exercises for three weeks like walking or standing up. Tilson stole 50 minor league bases in 2015 and could’ve been a dirt cheap source of steals, but what’s another word for a runner with a foot injury? Undraftable.
Salvador Perez, KC, Left Knee Inflammation.
The real story here is the Tonya Harding-esque hit job perpetrated by one Drew Butera. Who is Drew Butera? He is a catcher for the Italian team in the World Baseball Classic. Who else is Drew Butera? Salvador Perez’s Royals teammate and back-up catcher! Sick and tired of being only a back-up, part-time catcher…Butera decided to take his future into his own hands. He knew he couldn’t pull such a stunt in Royals camp so he signed up for the WBC and waited for his opportunity. Butera was heard whispering to himself “this is it…” as he rounded third to take out Perez’s knees. It was the last act of a desperate man. Unfortunately for Butera, life imitated art and he didn’t make good enough contact to be relevant. Perez seems to have no structural damage and as of press time the 2nd MRI results have not been released. Unless they show something drastic you can trust Perez as one of the first catchers drafted long after Jonathan Lucroy, Buster Posey and Gary Sanchez.
AJ Pollock, ARI, Groin Tightness (Hey Oh!)
Pollock is claiming his tight groin is just a cramp to which his girlfriend replied “this happens to lots of guys!” The cause for concern here is that Pollock’s 2016 season was ended due to a strain in the same groin. We all know Pollock’s deal — he broke out in 2015 with a 20 HR/ 39 SB season which out-performed anything Pollock had shown before. Now he’s had one season (2016) completely wiped out by injury and is starting this year with injuries as well. If you draft Pollock at his current ADP of around 65 — you’re playing with fire.
Francisco Rodriguez, DET, Groin Cramp.
K-Rod is claiming that a tight tape job caused his groin cramp. Do with that sentence what you will. He should be fine for the season and is currently 48 saves away from Lee Smith for 3rd all time in the career saves list. He’s only 34 and after averaging 42 saves over the past 3 seasons — he’s definitely capable of surpassing Smith in the next 2 seasons. Catching Trevor Hoffman in 2nd place with 601 saves, however, is a different story.
Dansby Swanson, ATL, Back Tightness
Dansby just felt like a word to me so I looked it up. “From The Farmstead Of The Danes.” Doesn’t get any more pretentious than that. Dansby has been resting his back since the March 3rd weekend. All signs are that Dansby will be fine for Opening Day. And yea, he’ll win NL Rookie of The Year with 10 HR and 10 SB with a .285 average, but only because there is no one else running. Don’t get too excited for him from a fantasy perspective this year especially with SS as deep as it is.
Chris Tillman, BAL, Shoulder Soreness
Here’s what I said in the February 20th volume of Ambulance Chasers: “There are some concerns over Tillman’s availability for opening day. Soreness in a pitcher’s throwing shoulder twice in a seven month period is concerning and it isn’t like Tillman is a game-changer for fantasy teams where he’s worth the risk.” And that’s me quoting me! (Am I allowed to use that phrase?) The latest update is that on March 13th Tillman was shut down again during a bullpen session. They gave him a cortisone shot to help the healing process, but if you’re drafting Tillman you’re going to have no shot at winning your fantasy baseball championship. (I’m not proud of that sentence.)