If you drafted any time between the end of the season and now, and you took a SP with one of your top two picks, there’s a good chance you’re playing injury optimism roulette right now. Someone put Jacob DeGrom, and Walker Buehler under full bubble wrap treatment as they’re really the only ones unscathed from the top 20 picks or so at the moment in the pitcher camp. Even Gerrit Cole had a Coronavirus scare with a fever last month that’s since subsided. Let’s do some quick hits on where everyone is at the moment.
Editorial Note from the Donkey: Of course everything will be turned upside down if and when the MLB makes a decision on a delayed start to the season. Some of these guys will end up being great buy low targets if you have to draft today. Stay tuned and please be safe out there!
Justin Verlander has been diagnosed with a lat strain after initially complaining about tightness in his right triceps during his most recent spring start. Verlander had this same injury in 2015 and it cost him almost half of his season. His final line that year in 133IP (20 starts): 5 wins, 113K, 3.38 ERA, 1.1WHIP. Verlander claims that this injury isn’t as severe, but he’s 38 years old and there’s still a lot of risk here as we know he won’t be ready for opening day. If you’re drafting this weekend, I’d project Verlander for about 25-28 starts to be conservative and start looking at him in the pick 35 range.
Max Scherzer said earlier this week that he has an “ailment” in his side that is a result of mechanical changes he’s been making in the offseason. He was adamant that he did not need any sort of MRI and there’s no strain. Strictly a “fatigue” issue is how he and the team are putting it. Scherzer missed significant time last year with back issues, so anything in that realm doesn’t make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but the explanation from the team and player at least can pinpoint a cause. I wouldn’t knock him back too much.
Blake Snell had a cortisone shot in his elbow earlier this month to relieve some stress that he’s been having in his throwing elbow. Snell had surgery last season to remove loose bodies from the elbow, which could give a source to where the discomfort is coming from. This is not a ligament issue. Snell pitched Monday and looked pretty rusty, walking 4 and giving up 4 runs in not even an inning pitched, but he reportedly felt no pain in his elbow after the start. Snell is behind the eight ball a little bit in terms of preparedness for the regular season, but barring any setbacks, he should be in the opening day rotation for the Rays.
Chris Sale’s been diagnosed with a flexor strain in his throwing elbow. He’s shut down for 10-14 days to rest the issue, but this has been an ongoing issue with Sale for some time now. He keeps going to Dr. James Andrews, and Andrews keeps saying Sale doesn’t need surgery, but this issue keeps popping up. We’re on a very very gloomy merry-go-round here. I’m personally not touching Sale at this point. I liked him as a bargain in very early drafts, but these elbow issues won’t subside. With the Red Sox seemingly throwing in the towel on this season before it even starts, you wonder how much Sale will even pitch this year (if he pitches at all). Just let someone else at your draft table deal with this.
All the Yankees are hurt: There’s a strong sense of deja vu going on this spring at Steinbrenner field as seemingly everyone in pinstripes is on the shelf again going into the season. Luis Severino is already out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but let’s check in on everyone else currently shacked up in the trainer’s room down in Tampa.
Gary Sanchez does NOT have Coronavirus. He missed practice earlier this week with a fever, but has reportedly been cleared by team doctors in terms of any further issues with his ailment.
Aaron Judge has finally been diagnosed with a stress fracture in his rib. This injury apparently happened last September and, for some reason, the Yankees training staff has only figured out what was going on now. Judge is shut down for the next week or so and will be re-evaluated after that rest period. This is something Judge can reportedly play through, even if it doesn’t drastically improve, but “surgery is not out of the question” according to team doctors. Hopefully there’s more clarity to this situation soon, but for now, there’s a point in drafts where the risk is worth the reward on Judge. Thinking that it’s about pick 80-100 at the moment. Unlike Marilyn Manson, you have to imagine Judge and the Yankees are going to do whatever they can do to avoid having his rib removed.
Giancarlo Stanton’s recovery from a calf strain seems to be going as well as it could at the moment. Video surfaced Wednesday morning of Stanton taking live BP off Adam Ottavino and he’s reportedly also been doing running and field work. Stanton’s situation is just mostly about how long it will take him to catch up to the rest of the squad once he is cleared for spring action (hopefully in a week or so). Judge has stated in his recovery that he only needs about 30 at bats in order to get up to full strength. If Stanton is in the same boat, there’s still a slim chance we could see him break camp in the opening day lineup.
James Paxton is set to play catch Wednesday while recovering from off season back surgery. Paxton has an aggressive goal to try to be back in the rotation before the end of May. I don’t think that’s realistic, but we’ll see how these workouts go. He would have to progress incredibly quickly and suffer no setbacks for that to be the case. This is James Paxton we’re talking about, so I don’t see it. Early to mid June seems like a more realistic timeframe, which should give him a chance at making maybe 20 starts this season.
Other updates are pouring in, ranging from some genuinely concerning situations, to some injury prone guys that are back on the shelf before the season even starts.
Let’s start with Trey Mancini. Mancini is missing time with the Orioles to address a “non-baseball medical procedure”. The Orioles are being pretty tight lipped as to what’s going on as to respect Mancini’s privacy and I also won’t project what’s going on here. Keep an eye on it in your drafts, and let’s hope this isn’t something that will seriously threaten Mancini’s long term health off the field.
Carlos Carrasco battled back from his own non-baseball issues last season, recovering from Leukemia in time to come back late in 2019. However, he’s starting to rack up injuries that are now concerning for his on the field prospects in 2020. Carrasco battled a hip injury earlier in the spring, and now has a right elbow issue that’s causing him to “slow down” his throwing program. It’s disheartening to see these things pop up for a guy who’s fighting so hard to get back onto the mound, but I’m knocking Carrasco down quite a bit until we figure out exactly what’s going on with his elbow.
Griffin Canning is also playing Tommy John chicken right now, same as Chris Sale. He’s currently in the “give it a PRP shot and call me in the morning” phase and is currently shut down for 3-4 weeks. Canning is pretty much untouchable in drafts right now as there’s a very realistic possibility he’s shut down for the whole season before he throws another pitch.
Willie Calhoun, everyone’s favorite sleeper, took a pretty scary HBP off the jaw from Julio Urias the other day and he’s out for a while with a broken jaw. News came down yesterday that Calhoun doesn’t need to have his jaw wired shut which, yay for solid foods, but we’re still looking at a pretty lengthy recovery. We’ll know more in two weeks, but Calhoun should just be looked at as a stash right now if you are in a league where you can leave him in an IL slot.
Michael Conforto has been diagnosed with an oblique strain and is going to be shut down for at least a couple of weeks at this point. He’ll probably miss closer to a month and is doubtful for opening day at this point. With him and JD Davis (jammed shoulder) out with minor issues, I’d start bumping up Brandon Nimmo at the end of your drafts as a guy that can get you a little pop and some steals while he’s got a clear every day job.