We’re nearing the 40% mark of the season, which means our favorite pitchers are fully loose and getting all sorts of problems with their shoulders and [reads notes] A4 pulleys. OK! Every day, we learn something new. Today, I’m going to teach you the following: the Electric Slide, the G.O.A.T. recipe for yakisoba, and also, what an A4 flexor pulley tendon is. I’m not even sure I wrote that last part correctly, but I’ll trust the editors to fix it up.*
*Editor’s Note: Budget cuts have led to our dispossession of a copy of Grey’s Anatomy, both the book and the first season on DVD. Without McDreamy, we have no compass to guide our knowledge.
News and Notes:
Chris Sale: Shoulder. Inflammation. Well, at least it’s not shoulder inflation, right? [clears Google search history]. Sale sliced through batters in May and was on his way to resume his status on his path to the “Hall of the Very Good,” where he would undoubtedly join the likes of Torii Hunter, Kevin Brown, and Barry Bonds. Sale had an MRI and CT scan on Friday, which means that after the doctor returns from his Caribbean trip on Monday morning, y’all will probably be rolling in the news that Sale will get another MRI two weeks from now. Some people like being put in a giant tube, and others like to put other people in giant tubes. [clears Google search history again].
Shoulder inflammation means that Sale has an odd-on chance of being on the IL for a month or more, even if there’s no structural damage.
For your fantasy team, 12-teamers have no choice but to roll the IL dice. Sale’s about halfway through his guaranteed contract, and the team will want him to be a part of their inevitable September collapse to the Tampa Bay Rays. If Sale returns in 2-3 weeks, you’ve got gravy. If he returns in August, you’ve got Jack Flaherty.
The best analogy for [a flexor tendon pulley] is a fishing rod. The eyelets of a fishing rod, like the pulleys of your finger, keep the fishing line close to the rod when it bends. This optimizes the finger flexor tendons’ line of pull, allowing you to grasp and climb. The pulleys create efficient mechanics for your fingers by maximizing the amount of finger flexion gained per muscle contraction length. Without pulleys, the tendon would pull away from the joint’s axis of rotation during flexion and decrease the functionality of the system.
Y’all worried about AI cheating when I’m over here with copy-paste. ChatGPT can’t replace me!
ENYWHEY. E-Rod’s finger can’t grip a ball anymore because of that section where I copy/pasted, and he’ll miss about 2 months of time while he rehabs his fishing line. Am I being metaphorical or literal? You decide!
This is unfortunate for fantasy managers because E-Rod had finally become the reliable stalwart we all knew he could be. I know you’re smirking right now. Remember 2018-2021, when E-Rod went 45-19 with a 10 K/9 and nearly 10 combined WAR? He was an RCL super-stud. He’s still only 30 years old — half a decade younger than deGrom and Sale, mind you.
E-Rod managers have to ride the IL train as well — he’s got great potential when healthy, but that’s something he’s struggled with over the past two years. That didn’t stop you from drafting Jacob deGrom in the second round, did it?
Jacob deGrom: Had a kiddo this week. I’ve had three kids, and I can tell you that when you’ve got a newborn, a healthy elbow is critical to their safety. I’m sort of amidextrous, and although I’m primarily right handed, I do a bunch of things left-handed: cutting meat, putting on pants and shoes, and carrying infants. Apparently deGrom bats left-handed and throws right-handed (thanks statistic sites!). Maybe, he too will ensure the survival of his genes by carrying L’enfant deGrom with his non-injured left arm while allowing his right arm to continue healing.
This is really just me riffing on the non-news that appeared this week regarding deGrom’s return to action. DeGrom has thrown five bullpens yet the Rangers don’t know precisely where he’s at in his rehabilitation…? Sounds like continued issues. Did you know that if you combine deGrom’s last four seasons, he has 20 more IP than Sandy Alcantara had last year alone?
It’s still up to you what you want to do with deGrom’s elbow, but he’s missed, effectively, six weeks so far. He hasn’t made any rehab starts yet. He hasn’t thrown a simulated game yet (at least, not one that’s been reported). He doesn’t have a formal clean bill of health yet to even start those more advanced activities. You make the choice about whether he stays on your team’s IL spot, or whether you save it for somebody more lucrative, like [gulps] Jon Gray.
Jack Flaherty: In the pre-season, I called him your favorite streamer for 2023. He whiffed out of the starting gate and took more walks than a fundraiser. He’s lighting in a bottle right now, but over his last four appearances, he’s notched two quality starts (and nearly a third) while K’ing 25 to (only) 8 walks. His ERA over that span is a paltry 1.88, but his FIP is 2.45, so we’ve got some great indications of sustainability. If you’re struggling to recover from losing Sale, E-Rod, or the continued absence of deGrom, Flaherty is a great pivot. You’ll have a wild ride, but that’s the fun of fantasy baseball.
Eury Perez: Somehow, he’s 3-1 on the season despite never throwing past 5IP. Especially on the Marlins, that’s magical Win luck! Over the past month, his K/9 is still below 8, BB/9 still above 4, and those games were against the murder’s row lineups of the Athletics, Angles, Rockies, and Nationals. Y’all know I’m not the herald of rookie pitchers, and it looks like EP could be in some trouble coming up.
Logan Webb: Had a nasty start to the season and I told y’all to hold tight, like gripping your favorite beverage when dancing in the moonlight. All Webb has done over the past 8 starts is deliver 7 quality starts and a 1.95 ERA with 2.98 FIP. You’re welcome.
Spencer Strider: Going through a weak phase, but this is fine and expected. Fastball velocity is still right where it should be, and his swinging strike rates are still way, way above average. He’s got two quality starts in a row, so nothing to worry about here.
Shane Bieber: How the mighty have fallen? It’s not like the Guardians are doing a lick of work to inspire their Cy Young winner — they’ve sold off all of their great players except JoRam. Bieber still won’t see a free agent contract until 2025 — that’s two more years! And Biebs just doesn’t have the oomph that he had in 2021. Even in 2022, Biebs quietly put together a great fantasy year with 200 IP, nearly 9 K/9, and a 2.88 ERA. Flash forward to 2023 — especially May — and he can’t find the strike zone. His K/9 is down in the depths with Jordan Lyles, and he’s been blown out of two games while also notching a handful of quality starts. What’s a fantasy manager to do?
Bieber’s fastball has increased in velocity recently, which is a good sign. His swinging strike rates have been paltry, which is problematic. His magic number of K’s seems to be 4: he’s started 12 games, and 8 of them finished with 4 K’s (and another game had 3 K’s). Yuck.
There’s life left in Bieber, no doubt. Even our patron Saint Justin revived his career after his Ludacris start. We’ve gotta give Shane at least another month before saying anything actionable, but it’ll be a rough month. He’s slated for some above-average challenges coming up: BOS, HOU, and ARI (how did that even happen?!?). If you’re looking to trade Bieber, now’s a good a time as any — he’ll undoubtedly be better in the future, but do you want to take that risk, or let another manager take that risk? Your call.
Matt Strahm: Still your favorite Roleless Rob! Since his demotion from starter to Rob, he’s notched 2 Wins, 1 Save, 1 Hold, all while posting a 16:3 K:BB rate and a 2.45 ERA. It’s worthwhile to note that he’s opened some games, which could be a detriment to leagues that have limits on Games Started. However, for you RCL’ers looking for efficient metrics, Strahm still seems to be your cheat code for 2023.