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!

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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.

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In our first Ambulance Chasers post this season, we touched on some of the bigger names that were dealing with some off-season question marks about their injury status and health.  Now that we’re into January, we’re starting to get updates trickling in on some players rehab processes, and they’re not all good. We also touch on some late round names here and speculate on some situations that could change between now and the beginning of the season that would count some of these players as huge bargains for early drafters.

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Coming into 2020, there’s not a ton of major injuries that we need to worry about in terms of keeping guys out to start the season. The biggest names that will definitely be on the shelf (and off your draft boards) are guys like Jameson Taillon, Jordan Hicks, and David Robertson. Those aren’t exactly guys that will alter draft strategies significantly going into the season. What we do have is a lot of players that will be drafted high, or be prime breakout candidates, who have some questions over how their offseason recoveries could affect their situations this year.

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Jeremy Hellickson, SP, Wrist Sprain: After missing most of June with a DL stay, Hellickson finds himself back there again, this time with a more serious wrist injury. Hellickson has had an interesting season — he’s allowed more than 3 ERs just once in his 18 starts, but has also only pitched 6 innings twice. Stash or Trash: The Nationals are being optimistic in their hopes that Hellickson will only miss one start. A pitcher with a wrist injury to their throwing hand? I’d expect a longer stay. I’d still stash him though until we hear more. Fill In: Last week when I had to make a lot of starting pitcher recommendations, the guys I recommended with an ERA of 15.00. So this week with so many starting pitchers placed on the DL I’m going to make all my SP recommendations that I truly believe in at the bottom.

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As a Trevor Bauer investor this year I’m tempted to just write: &$*3$*@#& and that’s it. Since Grey was his biggest advocate before the season, I know he’d understand. Stash or Trash: Stash for now. He’s a top-3 Cy Young finalist if not for this injury and we’re waiting for more news. That dastardly Jose Abreu lined a pitch of Bauer’s ankle in their game on Saturday. A stress fracture often occurs due to repeated compressive force on a bone (often in the leg, foot or ankle.) This type of injury is common in frequent runners. Bauer’s was obviously caused by the velocity of Abreu’s line drive hitting at just the right spot. Here’s the bad news: the typical healing time for a stress fracture in your fibula is 6 weeks. However, everyone is different — some can need more time or less — it’s hard to predict really. I’m labeling Bauer a stash until we find out more. If we find out tomorrow that it isn’t a complete fracture or that he’s got that Adrian Peterson DNA he might be back sooner. Fill In: Tyler Glasnow (19.3%.) Let’s get this easy one pick up out of the way — if you’re in a league where Tyler Glasnow isn’t owned yet you need to remedy this situation. Glasnow is now back to being a starter after going from the Pirates to the Rays. He’s made three starts so far each one inning more than the last. 12 innings pitched total with 20 K’s to only 3 walks and 6 hits allowed? His next start will be his biggest test against the Red Sox. Why haven’t you hit CTRL-T yet?! 

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And out like a Jake Lamb after season ending shoulder surgery. Stash or Trash: Trash. If you’re in a dynasty league, however, I’d definitely stash Lamb. He’s expected to be ready for spring training 2019. Lamb is still only 27 and has 100/30/100 potential with upside for more while hitting right in the thick of that awesome Diamondbacks lineup. In my opinion, if they can keep the majority of their roster intact the Diamondbacks have World Series potential in 2019. Fill In: Wilmer Flores (6.9%.) As a part time player the past three seasons, Flores really has some solid seasons. In those three seasons he averaged onl 375 ABs with 17 HRs and 53 RBI with a .754 OPS. With the Mets throwing in the towel after making 0 moves of significance at the deadline, Flores now finds himself batting third in the Mets lineup and hitting pretty well since the start of July: .308 AVG, 11 XBHs, 14 runs, 12 RBI. Flores also has that dual 1B/3B eligibility that makes him even more valuable.

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Unfortunately we all put a lot of hope that the 21 year old Rafael Devers would live up to his massive potential this season, but he’s been oft-injured and oft-not hitting. Stash or Trash: Stash. Unless you’re in a 10 team league — if you have a better option available — then jump on him. Fill In: David Fletcher (3.4%.) With Ian Kinsler traded to the Red Sox, Fletcher could be due for a big boost in playing time. In 254 AAA ABs was hitting — wait, this can’t be right — .350?! Fletcher also hit 6 HRs so he has some power potential and stole 20 bases last season so he can even steal a few bags. He only has 1 of each in 114 ABs so far, but the .298 is pretty on par for him and the added at bats should result in more power and stolen base opportunities. 

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Michael Fulmer is officially oblique strain 1 of 3 in this report! Collect all three for a frustrating prize! Luckily it’s a grade 1 strain. Unluckily it’s a friggen oblique strain. They all suck and they all linger for weeks. Stash or Trash: Stash. He’s 3-9 and his frustration will frustrate you — but he’s still a worthy SP4 or 5 on your roster. Fill In: Carlos Rodon (19.6%.) Last week I told you to add Carlos Rodon, but apparently the message was not received as he’s still under 20% owned. Rodon’s K/rate is still approximately 2 strike-outs behind his career numbers so you have to believe that number will normalize as he gets more starts under his belt. As it stands now he still has a 1.19 WHIP and a 3.56 ERA in 7 starts.

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Can you imagine if Kevin Pillar (OF, Sprained Shoulder) played in Boston? Yeesh. Boston Radio would be the most unlistenable noise ever recorded. “You see dat catch by Kevin Pillah?! I almost friggen ran outta my pahlah!” Pillah is going to be out 4-6 weeks after injuring the area near his collarbone. Shame. His 19 HR+SBs were looking pretty good and I think there was a good chance his run production numbers would’ve gotten a boost if he got traded to a competitor. Stash or Trash: Stash. He was having a pretty good year so far and will be back to help you for your stretch run. Fill In: Kevin Kiermaier (8.4%.) “Wait Klug. You want me to replace one injured guy…with THE injured guy?” Yea I know, Kiermaier, Shmiermaier. “I don’t want to pick that clown up just to read about him in next week’s Ambulance Chasers!” I know it’s been a lost season for KK, but he’s hit safely in 9 of his last 11 games and has a HR and two SBs in that time as well. He’s got 10 HR/10 SB capability in the second half even though, yes, he also has DL-60 capability in the second half as well.

Please, blog, may I have some more?