Spring Training camps are starting to break, and so are bones, ligaments, and the hopes and dreams of early fantasy drafters everywhere. We’ve got lots of updates on big names here as well as some minor nicks to watch as preseason workouts start to ramp up.
Mike Clevinger – News broke recently that Clevinger underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and is on the shelf for 6-8 weeks. Meniscus injuries can be tricky and the treatment Clevinger opted for carries a longer up front rehab time, but less risk of injury moving forward. Clevinger’s did suffer another left leg injury last year (ankle sprain), and that didn’t show any effect on his velocity or numbers after his return. Even with a full recovery, this still knocks Clevinger down from the second round price that early drafters are paying for him. I’d start looking for him towards the later part of the top 100, where guys like Brandon Woodruff, Tyler Glasnow, and Jose Berrios are currently being drafted and hope that you get last year’s stats after a return in late May/early June.
Aaron Judge – Yankees injuries have a pretty standard pattern…..they’re “minor aggravations, nothing to worry about.” Then they turn into “we’re just gonna rest it and let him get back to 100%.” Then comes the 2 month DL stint. So when news broke that Aaron Judge was feeling “shoulder crankiness” and was held out of BP, the alarm bells start to go off, especially since this is the same shoulder Judge had surgery on back in 2017. Keep a close eye on this, but I’d downgrade Judge a bit. If he misses any significant time, Miguel Andujar, Mike Tauchman, and even Clint Frazier stand to benefit the most.
James Paxton – James Paxton is hurt again….stop the presses. This time it’s a back operation that’s going to cause Paxton to miss 3-4 months. He recently said he hopes to be back by May, but see the earlier note on Yankees injuries to see what I think about that prediction (he won’t even resume throwing until early April). Paxton will be lucky to get a few starts in before the all star break, and that’s without any unforeseen setbacks. Jordan Montgomery, Luis Cessa, and Jonathan Loaisiga, will battle for the #5 spot in the rotation for now. None of those guys are particularly exciting, but keep an eye out to see if Yankees top pitching prospect Deivi Garcia can insert himself in that mix. If he wins that job, he’s got monster upside, even with a presumed innings limit.
Luis Severino – The Yankee training room is going to be crowded again this Spring it looks like. News just came out that Severino is experiencing right forearm tightness that dates back to his last playoff start last season. This is prettay, prettay, prettay bad for a guy who missed almost all of last season with arm and back issues. Simply put, you cannot trust Severino until you get more info on this. Aaron Boone is saying a DL stint is “possible.” To put that out there on February 20th, before the spring training opener gives you an idea of just how serious this might turn out to be. All the arms mentioned above in the Paxton blurb fit the same bill here, and a guy like J.A. Happ might even be worth upgrading a bit as he’s one of the few guys in this rotation now that’s a guarantee to eat some innings.
Eugenio Suarez – Suarez underwent shoulder surgery in late January and according to the latest reports, his recovery is going well. Suarez could be in the lineup opening day, but I’d bet against it. The surgery itself was to remove some loose cartilage so there shouldn’t be any long lasting structural effect. In my view, Suarez is actually a bit of a bargain. Before the injury, he had an NFBC ADP around 60, and since then he’s dropped to the late 70s. Even if he misses a couple weeks, he still remains one of the best bets for power and RBIs in a loaded Cincy lineup.
Shohei Ohtani – Ohtani, the pitcher, is still recovering from Tommy John surgery that cost him all of last year on the mound. The Angels recently stated they’re going to bring him along slowly, and that he likely wouldn’t pitch for at least the first month of the season. Ohtani, the hitter, is fully healthy and ready to step back into his normal DH role. League format matters A LOT on what to do here. In NFBC style leagues, with bi-weekly moves and dual eligibility, I don’t think this changes your approach much. If anything, simplifies managing a roster with him a little, just knowing there will be some stability at the beginning of the season and he’ll be in the lineup most days. If you’re in a league where Ohtani splits as two players, you obviously have to be wary of the pitcher side of things. I wouldn’t be comfortable taking him as more than an SP4 given the injury and the likely innings limit we’ll see out of him.
Alex Verdugo – The big narrative from the Mookie Betts trade has been that it’s a huge plus for Verdugo. He’ll play every day, he’s in a better hitters park, he’s going to bat at the top of a great lineup, etc, etc, etc…..However, he also hasn’t been cleared for baseball activity yet after recovering from a 2019 back injury, and now there are reports Verdugo isn’t likely to be ready for opening day. The injury woes, bubbling up talk of “personal issues,” right before spring training, and let’s call it “uniqueness” of Fenway park from a hitters’ perspective all give me some pause at Verdugo’s current, top 200, pricetag.
Jose Alvarado – Was a hot name coming into 2019 but has seen his fantasy stock plummet after a rough year. Injuries and family issues that kept him from ever really getting into a groove last season. He moved his parents up to the states this offseason, and has recently been given a clean bill of health to start 2020 and he’s still got a 100 mph fastball and a wipe out cutter. Nick Anderson is, rightfully, the first Rays reliever off the board, but given Tampa’s propensity to mix things up in the bullpen, I can see a path to double digit saves for Alvarado. Might be worth a late round flier as he’s almost free at the moment.
Luis Urias – Had surgery to repair a fractured hamate bone, so he will not be ready for opening day. I don’t see Orlando Arcia holding him off once he’s back healthy, so you can continue to draft him as a bench IF/MI type who will give you a solid average and an outside shot to get to around 15 in HR
Miles Mikolas – He’s having a PRP injection to try to correct a ligament issue in his right elbow. Mikolas already had a pretty low floor with his rock bottom K rate, so this injury doesn’t do much to help matters there. It does open up competition for some interesting names in the back end of the Cards rotation though. Carlos Martinez’s chance of breaking camp as a starter or primary reliever certainly gets boosted, Daniel Ponce de Leon is lurking, and Alex Reyes is, again, a name to watch in camp to see if he can finally grab a rotation spot.