The Nationals will show off their shiny new toy when they send right-hander Max Scherzer out to the mound against the Mets on April 6 for Opening Day at Nationals Park, but it's increasingly clear that they will be without their most valuable player from last season.
When Anthony Rendon suffered a mild MCL sprain in his left knee on a diving play at third base two weeks ago, the hope was that he would only have to miss a few days. Unfortunately, he's still not 100 percent and an MRI this week showed only minor healing. Nationals manager Matt Williams acknowledged to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com on Wednesday that he's simply running out of time.
"At this point, it's in jeopardy, because he hasn't been able to do the baseball activity," said Williams. "That being said, he could come in tomorrow and feel much better, or at the end of this week and feel much better, and we can look at things. But right now, it could be in jeopardy because he simply hasn't had the baseball activity to get ready. Does that mean he's not ready for Opening Day but ready four days later? Potentially. We just don't know at this point."
The Nationals could backdate Rendon on the disabled list, so he'd be eligible to return as soon as April 11. Opening Day is not the be-all and end-all, but it's hard to put an exact timetable on him until he can do baseball activities without discomfort. We have to just wait and see.
Rendon, who turns 23 in April, is coming off a fantastic year in which he batted .287/.351/.473 with 21 home runs, 83 RBI, 17 stolen bases, and 111 runs scored across 153 games. Prior to the knee situation, I had him as the top fantasy second baseman (yes, he's playing third base this year, but he's more valuable at second) and a serious consideration for either a late first-round pick or early second-round pick. Even if he comes back in mid-April, I'm curious to see if the knee will prevent him from running as much as he did last year. At this point, Robinson Cano and Jose Altuve might be better investments at second base in fantasy leagues. Keep track of all the latest fallout in the 2015 Online Rotoworld Draft Guide.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld is hosting a one-day fantasy baseball league on FanDuel for Opening Day. There's $20,000 in cash prizes and it's just $10 to enter. First prize wins $3,000 plus four tickets to the baseball game of their choice. Enter now!
Yanks Happy With A-Rod
I promise you didn't just enter bizarro world. That title is completely serious. Sure, both sides would probably prefer to move on, but they are stuck with each other due to finances. However, after a year-long PED suspension, Rodriguez has looked pretty good with the bat this spring and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com on Wednesday that he has shown that he's capable of being the team's primary designated hitter for 2015.
"He's done well," said Cashman. "I'm not looking at performance and statistics as much as just how he's been swinging the bat. He's got a lot of life in his body. If he continues to show athleticism, that means he's going to impact the baseball. That will be good for us."
While Rodriguez appears to be the favorite for the primary DH job, that doesn't mean that he's going to be in the lineup every day. Garrett Jones will get some at-bats against right-handers and the Yankees will likely use the DH spot to give their regulars a bit of a breather every once in a while.
After going 1-for-3 with a single and a strikeout on Wednesday, Rodriguez is now batting .290/.389/.516 with two home runs, one double, three RBI, and a 6/5 K/BB ratio across 36 plate appearances this spring. Many wondered what his bat speed would be like after the long layoff, but that he was able to hit an opposite-field homer off a hard-throwing pitcher like Tigers right-hander Bruce Rondon last week was a really positive sign. It's unfair to have any expectations at all for a 39-year-old who has had two major hip surgeries, but it wouldn't be the craziest thing if he ended up being relevant in mixed fantasy leagues again this season.
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Dellin Not Dealing
As soon as David Robertson signed his four-year, $46 million contract with the White Sox over the winter, the assumption was that it was just a matter of time before Dellin Betances would take over as closer with the Yankees. And why not, he was pretty much unhittable last year, putting up a ridiculous 1.40 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, and 135/24 K/BB ratio across 90 innings. The only problem is that he hasn't looked like that same dominant pitcher so far this spring.
After beginning Grapefruit League action with two straight scoreless outings, Betances has now given up one run in each of his last four appearances. Pitching on back-to-back days for the first time this spring, Betances gave up a home run to Mets outfielder Juan Lagares on a hanging breaking ball on Wednesday. While it's probably still too soon to panic, his stuff hasn't been nearly as electric as we saw last season. He's currently in the low-90s range as opposed to the mid-to-high 90s.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi downplayed the situation to Chad Jennings of the Journal News on Wednesday by saying that Betances is throwing harder now than he was at this point last spring and that he saw a jump during the final week. But he also conceded that "if it's the last week, the last day, you might have a little bit more concern." It's something to watch.
Girardi has indicated that he's not opposed to going into the season without a set closer and Betances hasn't done anything so far to change that. At the very least, Andrew Miller looks like a big threat for saves in the early going.
Video: Kimbrel or Chapman?
While we're on the topic of fantasy closers, I recently joined Jenna Corrado (@JennaCorrado) to make a tough choice between Craig Kimbrel of the Braves and Aroldis Chapman of the Reds. Check out my pick below: