The delay to the 2020 MLB season has allowed a lot of the guys profiled in past articles extra time to heal up and rehab from preseason injuries. Verlander, Scherzer, Clevinger, Stanton, etc should all be good to go by opening day. Outside of Trey Mancini, who’s very serious real life medical issues have thankfully been given a positive prognosis, there really isn’t anyone on the shelf right now that you should be overly concerned about missing significant time to start the year. That is, except for one man and a confounding rib injury.
Aaron Judge – Broken Rib – The Yankees came out and determined that “the bone was healing as expected and Judge would be evaluated again in…….2-3 weeks”, and Judge is still able to continue his rehab program. It’s certainly possible this whole thing goes away by whenever the season opens, but the fact that they’ve seemingly been kicking this can down the road 2-3 weeks at a time for the entire off-season does make me worried. I’d proceed with caution on Judge.
So outside of Judge, I thought I’d provide a bit of color on how we should approach injuries in what’s going to be a shortened season. Let’s say, best case, we get a season that starts sometime in June and they are able to squeeze in 100 or so games. How does this affect how we approach injuries when drafting and when managing our teams? Here’s a few factors to consider:
High Upside Guys with Injury Risk – I call this the Tyler Glasnow tier. I think this season is the perfect time to throw caution to the wind and put your chips in on guys like Glasnow who provide super high upside, but with a big dose of injury risk. Every inning/every at bat is going to be dramatically more valuable this season than seasons past because there’s going to be a lot less of them, easy right? Also, the replacement level of an inning or at bat is most likely going to be less valuable due to changes that will have to be made around a heavily condensed schedule (expanded rosters, wonky rest with double headers and games crammed in, etc). Getting a guy like Glasnow that can give you truly mercurial stats, even if he ends up getting hurt halfway through the season, gives you an immense head start on someone going after the more trusty “innings eater” type guys, where there might not be that many innings to eat.
The Revolving Door – This is going to depend a bit on your league settings but I think you need to be pretty ruthless this year about keeping guys around that head on IL stints that look like they’re going to be longer than the minimum. This especially holds true if you don’t have IL roster spots in your league. Again, less innings, more players eating up those innings, means that there’s going to be a lot of stats sitting in the free agent pool that aren’t getting counted towards any team. You want to gobble up those stats if you can. If a guy is going to be on the shelf for a month, and he’s someone you’ve gotta hem and haw about dropping to add another player that you can potentially get in the lineup one or two days a week, I think you’ve gotta make the cut. Usually I like to churn and burn the bottom 4-5 spots on my roster pretty aggressively, and you’ll need to do that even more this season.
Lineup Shuffles – This is really only applicable for weekly leagues or semi-weekly leagues where you need to lock in lineups ahead of time but I’m doing my best to avoid playing the “well maybe he comes back Tuesday” game this year. I think with the way the schedule is going to be, teams with injured guys going into the week are going to be much more conservative with rest. You might plug in someone coming off the mend hoping to get 5 games in a 6 game week but end up with just 2 or 3 because there’s no off days sprinkled in there this year, or there’s a double header, etc. When in doubt, I would rather put in the safer, healthier guy at the beginning of each week this season.