Eno Sarris

Baseball Daily Dose

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Injuries Hurting Fantasy Teams

Monday, May 02, 2011


Injuries level the playing field. They reduce even the best-laid plans to rubble, and they are virtually impossible to predict.

Sure, you can say that the average veteran starter has about a one in three chance of hitting the DL, and that he'll likely stay on the DL longer than the average position player. You can draft for youth to avoid the nagging injuries of old age. You can do these things, but then you'll still get stung when that ball hits the infield dirt just wrong, or that cleat catches in just the perfectly imperfect way.

This weekend, Ryan Zimmerman turned the needle from bad to worse when it turned out he needed surgery for his abdomen and will miss six weeks. Jerry Hairston is replacing him, but not well. Jose Bautista caused some owners to reach for antacids, but the team said that they removed him from the game as a precautionary move designed to keep his stiff neck limber. He might not miss much time. Kevin Youkilis had a hip injury, returned to soon on Saturday, and was out of the lineup Sunday - the kind of here-again, gone-again stuff that can make a daily manager crazy. Third base took a serious hit in some leagues, as Pablo Sandoval also went down with a broken hamate bone. He'll need surgery and will miss four to six. Mike Fontenot will get some at-bats while he's out, so there's that. The recovering Scott Rolen (shoulder) could provide some relief, ironically, but he's not likely to return Friday when he's eligible. The Legend of Sam Fuld fouled a bunt off his own left eye Saturday, shook it off, and was back in the lineup Sunday. Chris Coghlan (shoulder) is back in the lineup, but his joint will need surgery at some point and may bother him all year.

Some deeper leagues lost some starters too. Carlos Lee was carted off the field after running into Angel Sanchez, but it's only a contusion and he'll be back to continue his mediocrity soon enough. Jason Bourgeois will see more time. David Freese has been a deep league option at third base, but now he's had his hand broken by a Scott Linebrink pitch and the recently healthy Allen Craig will probably replace him for the time being. Except Allen Craig won't be ready Monday so that the team can make sure his groin is okay.

And some good health news? Evan Longoria returns Tuesday! Zack Greinke returns Wednesday! Carlos Beltran played his 16th straight game Sunday and is starting to look like he's playable in most leagues. Kevin Slowey (shoulder) is also on the way back - he's being stretched out to possibly take Francisco Liriano's place in the rotation. The clock is ticking on Liriano it seems, whose reduced velocity and effectiveness are causing many to jump ship. He could still be a buy-low (he was so excellent last year), but only at waiver-wire-like prices.

* Pitching well in the face of tough circumstances is impressive. We've been waiting for this season from Ricky Nolasco, but striking out five and walking one while keeping the Reds to three earned runs is more impressive since he did it in their house. He might be an every-start soon. Dan Hudson has been getting strikeouts and limiting walks - and he struck out five and walked one in seven three-run Sunday innings against the Cubs - so he's a good pickup in most leagues despite being a flyball pitcher in Arizona. Matt Garza has been striking out everyone (10 in eight innings Saturday against the Marlins), and yet his defense has been letting him down. He's still an excellent buy-low if you can pay less than retail. Brandon Beachy is a rookie without pedigree, but he continues to do everything right (five strikeouts, one walk, three hits and two runs in seven Saturday innings). Pick him up if you can. Gio Gonzalez was home, but he also limited the potent Rangers to two runs in 6 2/3 innings and should be on benches in mixed leagues and deeper by now. Gavin Floyd continues to strike batters out (five in six innings Sunday), limit the walks (two Sunday), and get about half his contact on the ground - and yet he also continues to give up home runs (two Sunday). He just seems riskier than he should be, despite doing decently despite a tough home park.

Some pitchers have had had to pitch in risk because of their traits as pitchers. Wandy Rodriguez is an older flyballer with fastball that doesn't crack 90, so it was nice to see him hold the Brewers scoreless in eight innings with six strikeouts on Saturday. Bud Norris was always risky as a flyball pitcher with wonky control in a hitter's park, but this year he's shown control that proves he is ownable in most leagues. Sunday he struck out eleven against three walks in 7 2/3 scoreless innings against the Brewers at home. Well done in the lion's den. Justin Masterson has had issues against lefties in the past, but has been good against southpaws in the young season. He struck out seven and walked two in seven two-run innings against the Tigers. Edinson Volquez can get whiffs, and got four strikeouts in five one-run innings Saturday against the Marlins, but the walks are concerning, and he got five of those in the same game. Same with Jonathan Sanchez, who walked six against seven strikeouts Saturday - own him, but know the risk. Owning any Cardinal reliever is risky these days, as even Tony La Russa has admitted that anyone in the pen can get the next opportunity. Fernando Salas (who got his second save Saturday) and Mitchell Boggs still have to be considered the fore-runners. Brandon Lyon is a walking risk - he blew another save Saturday, making Mark Melancon more interesting by the day.

* Other starters seem to prove why they should only be used as spot starters with certain results. Bronson Arroyo is a flyball pitcher pitching in a hitter's park - it might make sense not to play him at home after three home runs in his loss to the Marlins at home Sunday. Matt Harrison is not a great pitcher - he gave up four runs in 1 2/3 innings against the Athletics in Oakland - and since he couldn't do well in what should have been a good spot start, he's a dropper in most leagues. Zach Britton continues to get groundballs, but three walks against one strikeout (and 20 against 15 through 37 2/3 innings) against the White Sox is less exciting. He also had a callous removed from his middle finger after the game. Chris Young surprisingly shut the Phillies down in Philadelphia, and even struck out seven, but he's a better spot start than every-starter because of his extreme fly-ball ways.

* Some starts are hard to believe despite continued breakout work. Ryan Roberts got two hits - one a home run - and is showing power that he's never shown before. Don't drop anyone great for him, but because his plate discipline is better than average, he'll make a decent stand-in for people dealing with injuries. Gerardo Parra is proving he deserves at-bats in left field, though, so Melvin Mora makes the situation an open question. Matt Joyce has power, and Matt Joyce has patience. Matt Joyce will be a good hitter, but Matt Joyce will also have a batting average much lower than the .346 he's now sporting after collecting three hits in three at-bats against the Angels. Yes, Charlie Morton has found a way to get groundballs (he gave up ten against five flyballs Sunday), but his control is terrible (five walks against one strikeout), so he's not really a good option in any league. Philip Humber kept the Orioles to two runs in seven innings Saturday, but he doesn't have any elite skills that make him a must-own in any league. I'll answer any additional questions on twitter any time!

National League Quick Hits: Drew Storen is supposedly not the main closer according to comments by his manager, but Sean Burnett is droppable in mixed leagues by now no matter what he says … Ubaldo Jimenez is probably still a buy-low, but his wildness continued as he threw three wild pitches and gave up four walks in four innings Sunday against the Pirates … Craig Kimbrel blew two saves over the weekend but should be fine … Chase Utley (knee) participated in a simulated game Sunday but still doesn't have a timetable … He might be fine, but Jose Tabata (hamstring) left Saturdays' game early and didn't return to the lineup Sunday … Once teammate Domonic Brown (hand surgery) was activated from the DL but returned to Triple-A for now (he'll still be relevant eventually) … Nyjer Morgan (thigh) is back and should begin stealing time from Carlos Gomez shortly … Jordan Zimmermann kept the Giants to two runs with four strikeout against two walks in six innings; the more strikeouts he racks up the more sturdy his relevance in the shallower leagues … Kenley Jansen was optioned to Triple-A (to make room for the returning Hong-Chih Kuo (back)) despite striking out 22 in 13 1/3 innings; That rate alone seems to suggest he will be back quickly … Carlos Pena got two days off over the weekend to think about how poorly he's been playing … Dustin Moseley kept the Dodgers scoreless through seven but don't expect the sis strikeouts again and spot-start him mostly at home … Same story - start Jon Garland, who kept the Padres to three runs on three hits in six innings (with eight strikeouts), against weak offenses or at home … Johnny Cueto (triceps) allowed one earned run in his final rehab start … Fellow Red Home Bailey (shoulder) may have had his final rehab start on Saturday … Omar Infante (leg cramps) missed a few innings, but returned to the lineup Sunday … Will Venable has tools (two hits Sunday, eight steals on the year), but his strikeout rate is keeping him (and his batting average) down … John Mayberry is playing against lefties some, but his manager claims that Raul Ibanez has not yet dropped into a platoon role with him … Ian Stewart is raking in Triple-A but the Rockies do not have a set plan for bringing him back … Ronny Paulino got the go-ahead RBI with his fifth hit in the top of the 14th Sunday night and will play and hit against lefties if that's enough for your league.

American League Quick Hits: Jered Weaver was scratched from Sunday's start with a stomach virus, but is now a two-start pitcher this week as he'll start Monday … Robinson Cano left Sunday's game with a bruised hand and is day-to-day … Rajai Davis stole three bases Sunday, and with Travis Snider demoted, he should not be on any waiver wire … Blue Jays Manager John Farrell said he felt more comfortable with Jon Rauch on the mound than Frank Francisco, even if he does call it a 'dual closer' situation … Colby Lewis is having some velocity issues, but the Athletics cure all - he gave up two runs in eight innings with six strikeouts and the Mariners are next … David Aardsma (hip) will need a few more rehab appearances, it looks like, so don't drop Brandon League yet … Kyle Drabek gave up five runs in 2 1/3 innings against the Yankees Saturday, but is still interesting in deeper leagues and keeper leagues, it's just a tough division … Zach Britton kept the White Sox down to just one run and had a callous removed after the game … Mike Aviles collected three hits (one a home run) and is hot enough to play in deeper leagues for now …Matt LaPorta drove in the game-winner and had two doubles - he's a deep leaguer for now, but worth watching in most leagues … Travis Hafner (foot) will be in a walking boot until Monday … Chone Figgins is still the player with mixed-league upside of the two, but games like Sunday's oh-for-four with a caught stealing make it harder and harder to believe … Jake McGee has been option to Triple-A to get some work in, he could still be a future closer … Fellow second baseman Aaron Hill (hamstring) wants to be back May fifth … Orlando Cabrera hit a walkoff single Saturday night and could provide some MI relief in the short term … J.P. Howell (shoulder) pitched an inning of rehab for Single-A Charlotte and should be back soon for the end of that Rays pen … Alex Cobb is a nice prospect, but will be back down in the minors after allowing four runs in 4 1/3 innings Sunday against the Angels … He can get some grounders, too, but Tyler Chatwood - who gave up five runs to the Rays on Sunday - doesn't have the same upside as Cobb …. Kevin Millwood opted out of his minor league contract with the Yankees and is a free agent … Brandon Webb (shoulder) allowed two unearned runs in three innings in an extended spring training game, but he topped out at 81 is going to be a long-shot for any value this year, anywhere.


Eno Sarris is an editor and writer at FanGraphs.com. You can find his work gathered in one place at and enosarris.com. Follow his misadventures in writing on Twitter as well.
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