Hope springs eternal, and such is the case for James Paxton.
Less than three weeks removed from back surgery that threatened to keep him out until sometime close to the All-Star break, the southpaw on Saturday said he's ahead of schedule in his recovery from the procedure. Per Paxton, he could be back to playing catch in 10 days.
“Ten days puts it at four weeks. It depends how I respond to the treatments the next 10 days," Paxton said. “Everything has been going really well. I am optimistic."
By that arithmetic, the 31-year-old has a shot at being back with the Yankees' rotation by early May if everything continues to go right. That's certainly preferable to the initial timeline, when he wasn't expected back until early June at the soonest.
That's also good news for the Yanks, who could use some these days. Shortly after the news of Paxton's microscopic lumbar discectomy, the team was alerted of Luis Severino's continued forearm soreness. He's been sent back to New York for further tests, the results of which are expected to be known by mid-week.
If Paxton is ahead of schedule it also changes the fantasy dynamics. In the wake of his surgery he fell way down in early drafts, but if he's only expected to miss a month or so -- in line with the expectations for Mike Clevinger -- Paxton could end up being a bargain in those drafts.
The important thing to remember is he's still got a long way to go to meet that timeline, and Paxton doesn't have the cleanest health record. Proceed with caution, but Saturday was a bit of good news in what's been a rough start to camp for the reigning AL East champs.
Editor's Note: If you're on the hunt for rankings, projections, tiers, auction values, mock drafts, strategy and advice on how to dominate your drafts, check out the all-new Rotoworld MLB Draft Guide. Now mobile-optimized with a new look and feel, it's never been easier to take our award-winning advice with you to your drafts for that extra competitive edge! Click here for more!
Urias' Sights Set On Rotation In 2020
It's been a long road to this point for Julio Urias, but the road seems to be laid out ahead of him in 2020.
Urias, who has made 28 starts among his 63 major league appearances to date, will enter the season in the Dodgers' rotation, manager Dave Roberts confirmed over the weekend. Urias joins Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, David Price and Alex Wood in a stacked pitching staff.
“He understands what’s in front of him,” Roberts told reporters. “He’s got to continue to stay healthy, take care of his body.”
The Dodgers are also aware of what's in front of them if Urias performs up to his potential. In 184 innings with the Dodgers, the 23-year-old owns a 3.18 ERA with a 24.1 percent strikeout percentage.
The big question, then, is how many innings Urias might throw as a starter this season. He split time between the rotation and bullpen last year, finishing with eight starts and 29 relief appearances for a total of 79 2/3 innings.
Most of the projection systems think 125-135 innings is a realistic estimate for the young lefty, a reasonable prospect. If that translates to 20-plus starts and he keeps his strong strikeout numbers on a good Dodgers team, there's definitely some high-upside fantasy value to be had.
Urias is currently the 63rd pitcher being taken by Yahoo ADP, the 159th player off the board overall.
Oh, Hello There
In between pieces of off-field news, there were actual games taking place this weekend for the first time in months.
One of the biggest debuts happened in Arizona on Sunday, where Urias' new teammate, Mookie Betts, donned Dodger blue for their Cactus League game against the Cubs. Betts went hitless in two at-bats but did drive in a run with a sacrifice fly.
If Betts is the talk of Los Angeles, Jo Adell might be a close second. The Angels' top prospect had a more electric showing in his Cactus League game Sunday, going 2-for-3 with an RBI single and a stolen base against the Rockies. Adell figures to start the season in the minors but could be up as soon as mid-April for a Halos club that appears to have designs on contending in 2020.
Across the country, Jose Berrios made his Grapefruit League debut with a pair of scoreless frames against the Blue Jays. The dynamic righty allowed one hit and struck out four of the six batters he faced before calling it an afternoon.
Don't forget that for a full rundown of all the day's top performances and bits of news, the Rotoworld Player News page will be a valuable resource this spring.
National League Quick Hits: Mike Soroka is dealing with a sore groin and will have his first Grapefruit League start pushed back a few days. He tweaked the groin when his spike got caught on the mound while throwing live batting practice. The injury is believed to be minor but the team will be cautious and wait until later in the week to put him on the mound in a game. Last year Soroka went 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 29 starts. He struck out 142 batters and walked 41 in 174 2/3 innings ... Eugenio Suarez (shoulder) will begin throwing and taking batting practice this week. Suarez had shoulder surgery in January after injuring himself in a swimming pool. He has been limited to one-handed swings and non-throwing fielding drills thus far in camp. The Reds are holding out hope that Suarez will be ready for Opening Day but that might be a bit aggressive. If he does need to miss time it probably won't keep him out past April. Suarez put up big numbers last year, bashing 49 home runs to go with a .271 batting average and 103 RBI ... Dustin May (side muscle) was scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Sunday. May got a late start to camp after experiencing soreness in his side. The elite prospect made his major league debut last year with 10 relief appearances and four starts. He went 2-3 with a 3.63 ERA. May will be developed as a starter moving forward and hence is likely to begin the season in the minor leagues. The Dodgers have a crowded competition for their starting rotation with Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, David Price, Alex Wood and Julio Urias likely to be the starting five. May will get his chance soon and could be a difference-maker in fantasy leagues later in the 2020 season ... Joc Pederson is not participating in baseball activities due to a sore right hip. Pederson has been receiving treatment on the hip for several days. The injury is not considered serious but the team will keep him out of action until the soreness subsides. Pederson batted .249/.339/.538 last year with 36 home runs and 74 RBI in 149 games. He was nearly traded to the Angels two weeks ago but the deal was scuttled. Pederson is expected to play primarily versus right-handed pitchers again this season ... Felix Hernandez fired two scoreless innings on Saturday in his Grapefruit League start against the Orioles. Hernandez did walk one, but he didn't allow a hit and fanned two in his first ever appearances with an Atlanta uniform on. While it's just one outing, every appearance is going to be crucial for the former Cy Young Award winner, as he's trying to lock down the final spot in the Braves' rotation. More efforts like this, and we'll see the former Mariner ace make at least a couple starts for the NL East champions in late March ... Padres signed 2B Brian Dozier to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Dozier won a World Series with the Nationals last year but wasn't much of a help to his fantasy owners. He batted .238/.340/.430 with 20 home runs and 50 RBI and stole just three bases in 135 games. The 32-year-old has a history of providing lots of power and speed but has turned in sub-par performances for two years in a row. Dozier will battle Jurickson Profar for the starting second base job in San Diego ... Jesse Winker left Sunday's Cactus League game against the White Sox after being drilled in the left hand by a pitch in his first at-bat. He was examined by trainers in the dugout after being removed from the game. Winker told reporters he was fine after the scare. He has been injury-prone throughout his career and was limited to 113 games last year due to a back injury. He slashed .269/.357/.473 with 16 home runs and 38 RBI in 384 plate appearances. Winker hits very well against right-handed pitchers and struggles against lefties. He will probably be platooned in the Reds' crowded outfield this year, potentially sharing left field with Aristides Aquino. Winker has a career .845 OPS in three seasons and is particularly valuable in on-base percentage leagues.
American League Quick Hits: Shohei Ohtani (elbow) threw a light bullpen session on Sunday. Ohtani is nearing the end of his rehab from Tommy John surgery. Manager Joe Maddon said Ohtani's bullpen sessions will slowly ramp up in intensity throughout camp. He is unlikely to appear in any spring training games as a pitcher. The Angels are targeting a mid-May timetable for Ohtani to start pitching in major league games. Any setbacks would delay his season debut as a pitcher. Ohtani will begin the season on the active roster as a hitter ... Lucas Giolito (chest) threw a bullpen session on Saturday and felt 100 percent. Giolito was suffering from the effects of a strained chest muscle early in camp but seems to have moved past the ailment. Giolito said after throwing, "I felt 100 percent. I was happy with my command of my heater. Offspeed pitches felt good coming out. Couldn’t ask for more." Giolito had a breakout 2019 season, going 14-9 with a 3.41 ERA in 29 starts. He registered a superlative 228:57 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 176 2/3 innings ... Khris Davis is dealing with a minor calf issue and will be eased into action this spring. Manager Bob Melvin described it as very minor and said the team was planning to take it easy on Davis early in the spring even before this calf ailment arose. The slugging outfielder/designated hitter suffered a back injury while crashing into the wall early last season and dealt with the side effects for the rest of the campaign. His stats suffered accordingly as he slumped to a .220/.293/.387 slash line with just 23 home runs and 73 RBI. Davis failed to hit exactly .247 for the fifth season in a row and failed to homer 40+ times for the fourth season in a row. In 2018 he led the majors with 48 home runs and came in second in the majors with 123 RBI. The 32-year-old is a strong candidate for a bounce-back season ... Anthony Alford went 1-for-2 with three stolen bases and a run scored on Saturday vs. the Yankees in Grapefruit League action. Alford reached on a single in the seventh inning, then promptly stole second and third base off of Luis Avilan, and was credited with a stolen base in a rundown play to finish off the impressive fete. Once a top prospect in baseball, Alford is battling for one of the final spots on the 26-man roster. He could be a late-bloomer -- it's worth pointing out he wasn't a full-time baseball player as a prep -- but outside of AL-only formats, he probably doesn't provide much value.