So you’ve never been one to consider drafting pitching in the first round of your fantasy draft, but you made a decision this year that Clayton Kershaw’s dominance was just too good to pass up.
The Dodgers announced Tuesday that Kershaw will be placed on a “submaximal throwing program” for the next 2-3 weeks as he rehabs a strained teres major muscle strain near his left armpit. They’ll re-evaluate him after that time period to determine whether he’s ready to resume throwing at full effort.
Given that he won’t be throwing all-out at least until well into April, it seems likely that the left-hander’s absence will extend well into May even in a best-case scenario. Really, though, the Dodgers aren’t sure how long Kershaw is going to be out. One thing they do know is that he won’t be rushed back.
"We'll let him throw his way back," manager Don Mattingly said to MLB.com. "He's gotten far enough away that he'll need a progression [to return]. This is going to take some time."
The Dodgers do have some capable arms to fill in while Kershaw is out, as Paul Maholm will settle into a rotation spot and Josh Beckett (thumb) is expected back soon. Chad Billingsley (elbow) could also be an option for the rotation as soon as May. Obviously, none of those pitchers are in Kershaw’s league, but they’re capable of helping keep the team afloat while the left-hander rehabs.
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Parnell Could Need Tommy John Surgery
We’ve already seen Nate Jones and Jim Henderson “lose” their closer jobs before the season even began, and now Bobby Parnell will no longer work the ninth inning. Unfortunately, his situation is easily the direst of the three.
Parnell on Tuesday was diagnosed with a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament in his right elbow. He’s been given a platelet-rich plasma injection and will rest for two weeks before attempting to resume a throwing program.
There’s a possibility that rest will work for Parnell, but the reality is that it’s a long shot. Even in a best-case scenario, Parnell isn’t going to be back in the Mets’ bullpen for a while. Filling in for Parnell in the closer role will be Jose Valverde. The veteran reliever has been extremely unreliable since the final month of the 2012 season and last year appeared in just 20 games at the major league level, posting a 5.59 ERA.
Valverde did look decent this spring and in his first appearance on Monday, but the best thing he has going for him is a lack of real challengers for the closer role. Vic Black entered spring training as the favorite for setup man duties, but he was demoted to Triple-A after a rough Grapefruit League showing. Black, Gonzalez Germen or Jeurys Familia could eventually get a look if Valverde struggles. The Mets could also consider bringing in a reliever like Joel Hanrahan, who is almost all the way back from Tommy John surgery.
Ramos Expected to Have Hamate Bone Surgery
The Nationals had a comeback win over the Mets Monday, but they lost their starting catcher in the process.
Wilson Ramos first hurt his left hand last week before aggravating the injury Monday. A final decision won’t be made until after an exam Wednesday, but the expectation is that he will need surgery to remove his hamate bone. The operation would sideline Ramos anywhere from four to eight weeks.
Injuries have been a major issue for the 26-year-old, as he was limited to 25 games in 2012 due to a torn ACL and to 78 games in 2013 due to a pair of hamstring ailments. Ramos was terrific last year when healthy, banging out a career-high 16 home runs over just 303 plate appearances. Only Chris Davis had a higher home run-to-fly ball ratio among players with at least 300 plate appearances. He appeared poised for a breakthrough in 2014, but even when he returns his power could be affected, as that’s often the case with players coming back from this surgery.
The Nationals will use offseason trade acquisition Jose Lobaton behind the plate while Ramos is out. Lobaton has shown flashes of decent production at the major league level, hitting seven homers last year in 311 plate appearances. However, he’s ideally not someone the Nationals or fantasy owners want to have to count on over the long haul.
Kemp Expected Back Friday
The news wasn’t all bad for the Dodgers Friday, as they’re expected to get two-time All-Star Matt Kemp back from the disabled list.
Working his way back from left ankle and left shoulder operations, Kemp played in some minor league games during spring training and “feels he's ready” physically, according to manager Don Mattingly. The Dodgers’ minor league clubs get going on Thursday, but Mattingly doesn’t see a rehab assignment doing anything for Kemp.
"He's at a point where he's got to see major league pitching to see where he's at," Mattingly told MLB.com "He needs that intensity, and to get over the anxiety of playing in front of people. It will be an adjustment for Matt."
While Kemp is feeling healthy, Mattingly said he’ll ease the 29-year-old into action. He can certainly afford to do so with Carl Crawford, Yasiel Puig and Andre Ethier also needing at-bats.
"We definitely have to be patient with him," the skipper said. "He's not going to play in 10 straight games."
National League Quick Hits: Freddie Freeman went 3-for-3 with two home runs in the Braves' win over the Brewers Tuesday ... The Dodgers placed Brian Wilson on the disabled list Tuesday due to nerve irritation in his right elbow ... Seth Smith hit his second home run in as many games during Tuesday's loss to the Dodgers ... Ervin Santana will make a minor league start Friday before joining the Braves' rotation on April 9 ... Jon Niese (elbow) threw 4 2/3 innings in a simulated game Tuesday and is on track to join the Mets’ rotation Sunday ... Mike Minor (shoulder) will begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Mississippi Thursday ... Gavin Floyd (elbow) will begin a rehab assignment Thursday at Triple-A Gwinnett ...
American League Quick Hits: Yu Darvish (neck) threw 86 pitches in a bullpen session Tuesday and could potentially rejoin the Rangers’ rotation over the weekend ... An MRI taken Tuesday on the left hamstring of Jose Reyes showed only mild inflammation ... Drew Hutchison tossed 5 1/3 shutout innings during Tuesday's win against the Rays ... The Blue Jays signed infielder Juan Francisco to a minor league contract ... CC Sabathia was rocked for six runs over six innings in a loss to the Astros Tuesday, with his fastball topping out around 90 mph ... The Yankees designated Eduardo Nunez for assignment Tuesday ... David DeJesus (foot) sat out Tuesday’s game ... Matt Harrison (back) will begin a rehab assignment Thursday with Double-A Frisco ...