The prolonged delay to the 2020 MLB campaign is set to extend at least into June, and most likely July.  It’s given lots of players with injury concerns heading into draft season this year some extra time for recovery and even more preventative measures/surgeries that might have knocked their stock down a bit.  When things do pick up again, most every player will be ready to go and will be on a pretty even playing field going into the season injury free.

There are a couple of updates to share on guys who are on longer recovery paths as well as some things to keep in mind when looking forward to this season.

Aaron Judge – The exception to the rule stated above, Judge is seemingly one of the only guys who can’t seem to make progress on the injury front.  Judge has been plagued with a broken rib since late last season and has undertaken extensive rest and therapy to try to avoid surgery to fix the issue.  Brian Cashman came out this week and said Judge would need multiple CT scans before being fully cleared for the season.  This is something Cashman anticipates to be completed by “mid summer”.  This continues to be the biggest and most puzzling injury situation to keep track of.

James Paxton – Paxton, who’s dealing with back issues, is currently in the midst of a throwing program and expects to be cleared by mid May according to Cashman and Aaron Boone.  The times of being able to get Big Maple at a discount are long gone at this point.  If you haven’t drafted yet, he’ll be going at his pre-injury price before the season begins.

Griffin Canning – Canning is set to begin a throwing program and bullpens as he looks to recover from his elbow injury.  He experienced discomfort early in spring training and was immediately shut down.  Canning avoided surgery, and what once seemed like it could be a lost season is starting to show some home.  I’d certainly be on the lookout for a setback here as this rehab ramps up, but it’s a positive sign that he’ll be able to get some work in moving forward.

Shohei Ohtani – Ohtani is also ramping up his throwing program in his own elbow recovery.  It looks like Ohtani will be a go to pitch and hit at the beginning of the season, assuming a July start.  This complicates things for Ohtani owners with weekly lineups as I don’t see him hitting more than 2-3 times a week while he’s also pitching.  I still prefer to only own Ohtani in daily move/lineup formats where he has dual eligibility, which limits his upside some.

Corey Knebel – Everyone’s favorite saves sleeper is recovering from an elbow injury as well and still has a ways to go according to statements made last week to local Milwaukee reporters.  He’s currently limited to throwing bullpen sessions and has yet to get any more extended action.  I don’t think the Brewers are going to be so quick to pull the plug on the Hader experiment at closer as others are.  That, plus the injury situation here take him off the board for me.

Several guys have been given the proverbial “all clear” or at least “will be all clear once we start up again”.  This list includes: Michael Conforto, Stephen Piscotty, Alex Verdugo, Miles Mikolas, and Willie CalhounJustin Verlander’s rehab is also progressing rapidly and he should be good to go assuming a July start as well.

Another factor to consider with all of this going on is players with pre-existing medical conditions that may make them more susceptible to the effects of Covid-19, or at least make them more risk averse to the new playing conditions.  The San Francisco Chronicle published a list of these players earlier this month.  The most interesting names mentioned were David Dahl (spleen removal), Anthony Rizzo, Jon Lester, and Carlos Carrasco (previous treatment for cancer), Kyle Gibson (colitis), and Kenley Jansen (heart condition).

We don’t know enough yet about the details of the health precautions that MLB is going to take for me to comment on any of this further, but I really don’t see a scenario where if positive tests start popping up during the season, that the whole thing doesn’t just get scrapped mid go.  I’m not adjusting how I see any of these players with pre-existing conditions, but it’s unfortunately something that at least needs thinking about at this point.

 
  1. Harley Earl says:
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    Time didn’t heal Emanuel Clase’s wounds. That big idiot only made it worse on himself! :o(

    What do you think about Mitch Haniger? He ever going to play again? Core injury that required surgery but he was supposed to be back around July 1. Is that still the case?

  2. Hammer

    Hammer says:
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    Haniger’s situation is a mess. He’s had multiple surgeries and rehabs to correct the core issue. Last updates were about a month ago where “he was taking it slow”.

    I doubt he plays meaningfully again to be honest. He’s not on any of my draft boards. Even if he does manage to get back the risk of re-injury is sky high.

    • Harley Earl says:
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      Wow, that down on Haniger? I mean, that’s pretty down to say you don’t think he’ll play meaningfully again. I know the injury was serious but I didn’t think it was career-threatening or career ending.

      I have him on my team, but he’ll be on the DL. I don’t see them not playing him if he ever comes back. But maybe you’re right, maybe this is just basically the end for him. Happens to guys all the time in one form or another.

      Thanks!

  3. Mark says:
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    Although not on the list I am most Curious about Cespedes. I got lucky and traded him for JD Martinez a couple years ago right before his injuries. That’s a guy that is still in his prime who can carry teams as he’s cheap and has top level talent. I know Grey has talked about him previously and so has other writers of Razzball.

    Just throwing the name out there for deep leagues.

    • Hammer

      Hammer says:
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      The Mets haven’t put out a lot of info on Cespedis’s ankle. All we really know is that he’s still rehabbing it.

      My biggest concern with Cespedis, even when he gets healthy, is playing time. He’s going to be battling it out for LF and DH ABs.

      In Left, the Mets can play Nimmo, JD Davis, McNeil….aka younger and better bats.

      I’d expect Dom Smith to get the bulk of the DH ABs as well.

      If you’re in a super deep league with daily transactions, maybe Cespedis is worth a bench spot to give you some pop, but if you have to set a lineup weekly, he might only get run one or two times a week max.

  4. Jolt In Flow says:
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    Good stuff, Hammer! Always look forward to your reports.

    One comment: this should be a set-off that Judge has issues other than his rib. That should have healed a long time ago.

    Something else is wrong.

    • Hammer

      Hammer says:
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      Yeah, I mean the Yankees have a pretty bad track record for injury disclosure, but I think it’s more the approach that’s the issue vs other injuries with Judge.

      It’s tricky because a guy like Judge, with all that mass, is going to put a lot of strain on his core/ribs when he swings. So they keep going back to the well on the “rest and rehab” approach and it just doesn’t seem to be working. This happened in September. You don’t need 9 months to heal a broken rib, unless you keep injuring it when you get to a certain point in the rehab.

      It’s also a very weird bone as it’s up near his shoulder/not really supported. This just seems like it’s heading to either a season that Judge plays with a certain level of discomfort which will undoubtedly affect his performance, or they bite the bullet in August or September and just have the surgery to remove the rib.

      • Jolt In Flow says:
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        Thanks for the further explanation. Makes sense. I just read a few articles and you are bang on; he’s been trying to work through it non-stop.

        Sadly, one of the articles also mentioned this: “Judge suffered the injury making a diving catch in September, but played through it. He also worked out all winter through the pain, only for doctors to discover the fractured rib — and a collapsed right lung — on March 6.” Now I’ve never had a collapsed lung, but this guy’s got to be an animal to be trying to play through this. Sounds excruciating.

        Looking forward to your next update.

  5. Mark says:
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    When I see guys like Judge and Stanton, they are simply too big to stay healthy. That muscle and size guarantees injuries in sports. I am always scared to have players like that especially past 27 or so.

    • c says:
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      Ummm. That’s completely hyperbole. By your “logic”, Lebron should be hurt all the time (he’s bigger than BOTH Judge AND Stanton). Not to mention guys like Joe Thomas or Julius Peppers. There’s no proof to your statement at all and it’s asinine as [email protected]$k to suggest that being “big” means you’re more at risk to get hurt in any sport.

      • Hammer

        Hammer says:
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        Yeah, I don’t think it necessarily helps given the force of swinging and the type of tension it puts on the body, but the bulk alone doesn’t make them more susceptible to injury.

        In this case, with Judge and the fracture, it seems like he keeps re-aggravating the injury during rehab and they’re very cautious to let him swing now, so I certainly think it’s a factor in this specific rehab.

      • 183414 says:
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        You should draft LeBron. Perhaps he can walk, charge and force his way to .300/100/100.
        Comparing LeBron to a baseball player is as you say asinine and [email protected]$k !!!

        • Troll Killer says:
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          Now you’re just being an argumentative douche. He equated size with injury. Full stop. c countered with a BIGGER person (whose not injury prone at all).

          But, 183414, don’t let facts get in the way of picking a fight. You’re still wrong and, quite honestly, an ignorant asshat.

          • 183414 says:
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            Name calling from a lowlife troll. Stick to twitter, loser !!

  6. c says:
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    Hader “experiment” is only as “closer”. He’s far more valuable to the team as a guy that can go 2-3 IP with 7 K as a bridge to Knebel.

    • 183414 says:
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      ??? I won the overall championship with Hader as my anchor. Stick to basketball !

      • Troll Killer says:
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        yeah, you won with Hader alone.

        Stick to golf, idiot.

        • 183414 says:
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          Did I stumble upon move on. stupid ?

  7. moleman says:
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    thoughts on carlos rodon, for this year but also dynasty? his timeline sounds like end of june, coinciding with the start of the season as well

    • Hammer

      Hammer says:
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      Rodon is on track to be able to pitch right around the start of the delayed season (let’s assume early July).

      The issue here is where he fits in. The Sox already have 5 starters and that’s before counting Kopech.

      I think the combo of the time it will take Rodon to get his command and feel back from TJ mixed with the depth the Sox currently have at SP make this season pretty much a wash for him.

      There’s also a good chance he could end up in the bullpen long term. Barring multiple injuries, I think if he’s contributing to the big league club this year it’s out of the bullpen.

      • Hammer

        Hammer says:
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        One thing that would be cool to see are guys like Kopech and Rodon stacked as openers/followers this season…..give them a chance to pitch meaningful innings and slowly stretch them out.

        Doubt it happens though.

        • 183414 says:
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          Kopech can be a serious stud. Rodon not in his class,

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