The Romans, the first culture to produce glass mirrors, believed that a reflection could hold the human soul. When that reflection shattered, the thinking went, the soul broke along with it. The Romans also believed that a person’s body renewed every seven years. When the mirror was introduced in Greece, China, Africa and India, the idea that shattering one would bring seven years bad luck came with it, and the phrase “break a mirror, face seven years of bad luck” survives idiomatically today.
The Diamondbacks entered this season with the expectations associated with innovation: They had added muscle (Mark Trumbo), solidified the back-end of their bullpen (Addison Reed), and were bringing in a Rookie of the Year candidate at shortstop (Chris Owings). The concern, of course, was an objects-in-the-rearview-mirror-appear-closer-than-they-are rotation that lost Patrick Corbin to injury and Tyler Skaggs to trade.
The glass shattered, of course, and Arizona’s seven starters (Wade Miley, Brandon McCarthy, Trevor Cahill, Bronson Arroyo, Mike Bolsinger, Josh Collmenter and Randall Delgado) could only look on in horror last week as their second-most potent bat fractured his foot, rotten luck that is going to make it mighty difficult to hang in all of those 10-8 games. With an NL-leading seven homers over 81 at-bats at the time of his injury, Mark Trumbo had been one of the team’s only bright spots in an otherwise dreary April.
Trumbo, who later admitted that he dealt with plantar fasciitis this spring, has been given a six-week recovery timetable that sounds a bit optimistic given his history of hoof problems. A stress fracture cost Trumbo almost six months as recently as 2011, and, though he insists that this injury isn’t causing as much pain as that one, I’d take the “over” if given mid-June as a hypothetical return date. It sounds like this is more of a wait-and-see proposition, with doctors being able to give a clearer prognosis in perhaps a month. And keep this in mind: In four weeks, Arizona might be so far out of it that they urge Trumbo to rest until he’s completely pain free. If the slugger presses himself to return too soon, he could risk another break, and that’s a risk the Snakes probably won’t be willing to take.
All that being said, Trumbo needs to be retained in mixed leagues so long as you have a disabled list spot for him. Even if he doesn’t return until the All-Star break, he’s going to give some owner in your league three months of Tesla power. A.J. Pollock, who may have been looking at a diminished role after a rough start and Cody Ross’ return, will remain a regular.
Still on the lookout for a Trumbo replacement? I’ve got some suggestions for all tastes and league sizes: Mike Morse (unowned in 43% of Yahoo leagues), Khris Davis (unowned in 57% of Yahoo leagues), Lucas Duda (unowned in 92% of Yahoo leagues), Chris Colabello (unowned in 30% of Yahoo leagues) all hold intrigue in weekly leagues. In daily formats, Matt Joyce (unowned in 82% of Yahoo leagues) makes for an interesting streamer option if you’re willing to go all Joe Maddon with matchup platoons. I should note, however, that Joyce is currently unowned in our Rotoworld baseball staff’s 13-team mixed weekly league. It’s hard to burn a roster spot on him, even amidst a hot start, when you know he’ll be rendered a pinch-hitter a few times per week.
Morse, who blasted a pair of homers on Wednesday against the Rockies, is off to a hot and healthy start with his new employer (.288/.338/.589). Some have given up on Davis during a cold start in which he flat refused to take a walk. He’s a streaky hitter who will eventually become inflamed (and I wrote that before he went 2-for-4 with a homer on Saturday against the Cubs). Duda, of course, now has no impediments to playing time with Ike Davis in Pittsburgh. As for Colabello, it’s a crime he’s still not rostered in more than a quarter of Yahoo leagues. Sure, nobody expected him to break Minnesota’s April RBI record, and he’ll undoubtedly come back to earth—but where, exactly, is earth? Nobody knows for sure (though I can confidently tell you it’s beneath his current 190 RBI pace). Don’t forget that Colabello was one of the best hitters in the minors last year as a 29-year-old, slashing .352/.427/.639 at Triple-A Rochester before struggling in his first go-around with MLB pitching.
Now let’s bounce around the league in the lightning round of Week That Was news:
- Chase Headley strained his right calf Thursday against the Nationals and was subsequently placed on the 15-day disabled list. Over the 2-3 weeks that Headley estimates he’ll be out, veteran utility man Alexi Amarista and recently promoted Jace Peterson will divvy up hot corner duties. Peterson is a promising prospect, but he won’t get enough playing time to hold intrigue outside of deeper NL-only formats.
- Ivan Nova and A.J. Griffin will undergo Tommy John surgery next week, making them the 14th and 15th MLB pitchers to undergo the procedure this year. Josh Johnson, who underwent the procedure on Thursday, was the 13th.
The Braves lead the majors with eight such surgeries since 2010. Week That Was trivia time, kiddies: Name the only team that hasn’t had a Tommy John victim since 2010. (Jeopardy music).
Time’s up: The Brewers.
- With the so-called “epidemic” of elbow injuries we’ve been hit with, Michael Pineda getting slapped with a 10-game suspension for the SNL-worthy skit of his repeat pine tar offense, Anibal Sanchez hitting the disabled list with a lacerated finger, Chris Sale with a flexor strain, and Scott Feldman with biceps tendinitis, and pitchers from Clayton Kershaw to Hisashi Iwakuma needing longer-than-anticipated DL stints, odds are you’re looking for a starter. Right? What? You aren’t? That’s not the point, dear reader—go along with the conceits of the column or show yourself out. The conversational thing doesn’t work if you’re going to take everything I type literally and become confrontational about it.
My favorite SP who is widely available is Nathan Eovaldi. I’m going to run out of column space and turn into a pumpkin soon, so I’ll refer you to Jeff Sullivan’s outstanding breakdown of Eovaldi’s early-season success over at FanGraphs. The piece, entitled ‘Nathan Eovaldi: Bartolo Colon meets Yordano Ventura,’ illustrates why I think Eovaldi will make The Leap this season: The right-hander is obnoxiously pounding the strike zone with his 98 mph fastball and keep-you-honest slider. With one of baseball’s highest strike rates, he’s demanding that hitters beat him, and, thus far, they’ve been unable to oblige. Eovaldi owns a 2.87 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 30/4 K/BB ratio over five starts and 31 1/3 innings, and it has absolutely not been a mirage. The only fluke is that he’s only earned one win, but you’d hope for better run support going forward.
Eovaldi is available in 70% of Yahoo leagues, which is an even bigger travesty than Colabello’s snub (my diction is under the weather with Fox News Sensationalism Disorder at the moment, forgive me). Do your part, Week That Was Nation. If Eovaldi is gone in your league, I’ll point you either to the aforementioned Skaggs or WTW favorite Wily Peralta. As with Eovaldi, these are post-hype types with upside. Skaggs (unowned in 77% of Yahoo leagues) won’t help you win the strikeout category, but he’s now in a much better environment for his skills, having escaped Arizona, and his 2-0 start with a 3.21 ERA and 1.11 WHIP portend good times ahead. Peralta’s rough rookie season was caused by spotty control—the former top 100 prospect walked 73 over 183-plus innings. This year, Peralta (unowned in 55% of Yahoo leagues) issued just six free passes over four outings to burst out of the gate with a 3-0 start paired with a 2.19 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. In shallower formats, Peralta’s teammate Marco Estrada is perennially underrated and unowned in 32% of Yahoo leagues. He struck out nine Cubs in Saturday’s win to move to 2-1 with a 2.87 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 28/6 K/BB ratio over 31 1/3 frames.
- Chris Davis will be placed on the disabled list with a strained left oblique on Sunday. He might be ready to return immediately after his mandatory 15-day excursion.
- We end this week’s episode with a legend who is owned in your league. Albert Pujols hit his 500th homer last week (and also his 501st). Surely you’ve heard. He needs to average roughly 34 homers per year until his contract runs up in 2021 to top Barry Bonds’ record of 762. Though he’s not likely to get there, Pujols has re-asserted himself as one of the game’s most feared sluggers this month, blasting an AL-leading nine homers and posting an AL-leading .639 slugging percentage. Through play on Saturday, he’d scored a run in eight consecutive games and collected four consecutive multi-hit games. If you are a Pujols owner and an owner wants to get crazy in his evaluation and pay you full price for the 63 HR, 148 RBI pace, by all means take it. That won’t happen, but Pujols’ production in his last season with the Cardinals—.299, 37 homers, 99 RBI in 2011—is well within reach.