The word "precautionary" usually brings us comfort. It tells us that as far as an injury is concerned, things are probably going to be okay.
That certainly seemed to be the case on Sunday with Mike Clevinger, who left his start due to upper back tightness, saying afterward that his exit was just a precaution and he would make his next start. Sleep tight fantasy owners, nothing to see here. Or so we thought.
On Tuesday, the hammer dropped. The latest word: Clevinger has a serious back strain, and can’t so much as pick up a baseball for 6-8 weeks.
It’s an absolutely vicious turn of events for fantasy owners who landed Clevinger at what looked like an insane bargain through his first two starts (Yahoo ADP: 81.4), as the 28-year-old had allowed just two hits, four walks and no runs in his first 12 innings, with 22 strikeouts — good for sixth in all of baseball.
Now Clevinger is out until June or maybe even July, and as of Tuesday night, it wasn’t clear who the Indians would choose to replace him. Among the widely-available names to consider as replacements in fantasy leagues: Blue Jays right-hander Trent Thornton (a 1.69 ERA and 0.66 WHIP through his first two starts, with 15 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings, still available in more than 80 percent of Yahoo leagues), and Braves lefty Max Fried, who looked electric while throwing six innings with just one unearned run on Tuesday in Colorado. Fried’s two starts: 12.0 innings, six hits, zero earned runs, one walk, nine strikeouts. The 25-year-old is rostered in 30 percent of leagues.
Beyond Clevinger, Tuesday saw a slew of injury-related news, most notably...
Trout, Bregman Leave Early
The planet's top fantasy player, Mike Trout, departed Tuesday night's game after three innings with a right groin strain. Trout was being called day-to-day as of early Wednesday morning, though a groin strain of course could mean a trip to the IL. As of this writing, the only thing to do was await what will hopefully be a positive update on Wednesday after Trout is reevaluated (though if the Mike Clevinger situation has taught us anything, it's that positive updates mean nothing, and optimism is hopeless). Trout was 2-for-2 before departing, raising his average to .406.
Also leaving early on Tuesday: Alex Bregman, who's dealing with an apparent hamstring injury — or more specifically, he "felt something in his right hamstring" while running the bases. Bregman, like Trout, is expected to be reevaluated Wednesday.
Yankees right-hander Luis Severino, already on the injured list with a rotator cuff issue, has now reportedly sustained a Grade 2 right lat strain, and will be shut down for at least another six weeks. That means Severino won’t be throwing again until the end of May, which puts the whole first half of his season in jeopardy. Domingo German, who’s 45 percent rostered in Yahoo leagues, now looks likely to hold down a rotation spot for a while. The 26-year-old has a couple of wins and a tidy 1.64 ERA / 0.91 WHIP through two starts, though he has walked seven (with 10 strikeouts) through his first 11 innings. Gio Gonzalez (six scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts at Triple-A on Tuesday) is another name that could get into the mix.
In other Yankees news, Giancarlo Stanton (biceps) is reportedly aiming to start swinging off a tee later this week — the first step in his recovery since he was shut down on March 31. Stanton could return in late April or early May if all goes smoothly.
Meanwhile, Miguel Andujar (shoulder) will attempt to throw on Wednesday (per James Wagner of the New York Times), though he still hasn’t swung a bat and there’s not yet a timetable for his return.
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One week after Trea Turner broke his finger on an ill-fated bunt attempt, we got word (via Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic) that the “tentative timeline” for Turner’s return is/was 4-6 weeks. Ghiroli did clarify that the 4-6 week timetable (again, tentative) was from the time of Turner’s injury — not from right now — so in theory he could be just a few weeks away from returning. Or just a few weeks away from starting a rehab assignment. Either way, Turner’s fantasy owners can now at least begin to envision a return in early-to-mid May.
Sale Struggles Again
Chris Sale was reportedly dealing with an illness during his last start against the A’s, which Alex Cora offered as an explanation for Sale's diminished velocity. Sale’s much-scrutinized velocity was slightly better on Tuesday, but the results were not. The 30-year-old was hit for five earned runs in four innings in a loss to the Blue Jays, striking out just three batters as his record dropped to 0-3 — and his ERA rose to 9.00. Sale gets an ideal spot to try to jumpstart his season as he faces the Orioles next time out.
Notable NL IL News
Tuesday also brought a number of significant updates on fantasy-relevant National League players. Here’s the quick rundown:
*David Dahl (core) hit the 10-day IL, retroactive to April 8, and says he plans to be back when first eligible.
*The Dodgers placed Hyun-Jin Ryu on the 10-day IL with a left groin strain, which is a similar injury to the one that cost him three months last season, though Ryu says (for what it’s worth) that this injury is not nearly as severe.
*Jon Lester (hamstring) is also expected to hit the 10-day IL, with Joe Maddon saying in a radio interview that Lester will miss one or two starts.
*Clayton Kershaw (shoulder) threw six innings with two earned runs and six strikeouts in a rehab start at Double-A, and he’s expected to rejoin the big-league rotation for his next start.
*Jeremy Jeffress (shoulder) gave up three runs on four hits in a one-inning appearance at Triple-A, and might be added to the Milwaukee bullpen after one more rehab outing on Wednesday. Jeffress could get into the mix for saves after posting a 1.29 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 15 saves in 2018, though Josh Hader has been absolutely dominant in the closer’s role so far. Either way, Jeffress (34 percent rostered in Yahoo leagues) looks like an intriguing fantasy stash.
*Mike Foltynewicz (elbow) struck out five in 3 2/3 innings in a rehab start with Triple-A on Tuesday, and is set to join the Atlanta rotation on Sunday against the Mets.
AL Quick Hits: The Red Sox activated Dustin Pedroia, who went 1-for-4 out of the No. 7 spot in his season debut. … Shohei Ohtani took some BP on Tuesday as he aims to return as a DH in late April or early May. … Andrew Heaney (elbow) played catch. … Yoan Moncada hit his third homer and raised his batting average to .326 (with 11 runs and 13 RBI) as he continues to hint at a full-scale breakout. … Speaking of breakouts, the first career four-hit game for Austin Meadows included a home run, four RBI and his second stolen base of the season as Tampa Bay moved its record to 9-3. … Tim Beckham (hamstring) was out of the starting lineup again, but did work out on the field before the game. … Ramon Laureano (thumb) returned to the A’s lineup and went 1-for-4 with a pair of runs and RBI, while Jurickson Profar broke out of his early-season funk by going 4-for-5 with a homer and five RBI. … Jay Bruce drilled his AL-leading seventh home run, but is still hitting just .188. ... Anthony Swarzak (40 percent rostered in Yahoo leagues) nailed down his second save. ... Jonathan Schoop hit his first two homers of the year. ... The Royals called up lefty Richard Lovelady, who could get into KC's murky late-innings mix. … Matt Moore has a meniscus issue in his right knee, but will try to go with rest and rehab rather than surgery for now.
NL Quick Hits: Major League Baseball handed down the suspensions for Sunday’s benches-clearing throwdown: five games for Chris Archer, two games for Yasiel Puig and one for Reds manager David Bell. Puig started serving his suspension on Tuesday, and Matt Kemp hit a three-run homer in his absence. … Luis Castillo threw seven shutout innings with eight strikeouts, lowering his ERA to 0.92 with just five hits and eight walks allowed in 19 2/3 innings, with 25 strikeouts. … Pete Alonso hit his fourth and fifth home runs, becoming the first player since 1900 with at least 11 extra-base hits in his first 10 career games. ... Jacob deGrom allowed his first runs of the season (six in four innings), raising his ERA to 3.18. ... Victor Robles hit his third homer of the season — a game-tying shot in the ninth — and Juan Soto hit a three-run shot in the 10th as the Nationals erased a 6-1 deficit and stunned the Phillies 10-6. ... Reds prospect Hunter Greene underwent Tommy John surgery Tuesday. … Rich Hill (knee) threw a bullpen and felt “awesome”, according to Jorge Castillo of the L.A. Times. Hill is on course for a potential late-April return to the rotation. … Dansby Swanson moved up to sixth in the Braves order against a right-hander (he had been hitting sixth against lefties) and cranked a three-run homer off German Marquez, Swanson’s fourth bomb of the year (with 15 RBI). … The Nationals have reportedly agreed to a minor league deal with Bud Norris. … Scott Schebler has now homered in back-to-back games. … Yasmani Grandal went yard twice. ... The slumping Brandon Nimmo and Jesse Winker both hit their first dingers of the year. … Make that two career games in Colorado, two Coors Field home runs for Ronald Acuna.