Whether you’ve already drafted or are getting ready to draft, the injuries are starting to pile up around the league – specifically on the mound. I recently spoke about how I loathe drafting pitching because they are so volatile due to year over year performance variance, unluckiness, and injuries. It’s really my least favorite position to draft because the bottom can fallout so quickly. One pitch they are fine, and the next you don’t see them for 18 months. You begin to feel like the Cleveland Browns over the past 20 years, thinking “If I only had drafted player X instead of player Z that is now fantasy irrelevant for 18 months or more.” There has been an update on the injury front since we wrapped up our pitching positional coverage that warrants a quick review.
Earlier this week Corey Knebel was reported to have just a dead arm. The next day his manager comes out and says there is “reason for concern” with his UCL in his elbow. Now he’s off to get a second opinion on his “damaged” but not torn UCL. Corey Knebel had an ADP 174.76 and I wouldn’t recommend drafting him at all. This ends with us seeing Knebel returning by the All Star break or later in the 2020 season should Tommy John be required. But that’s not all for Milwaukee, they are also dealing with Jeremy Jeffress, ADP 348, having shoulder weakness issue since the beginning of March. He likely won’t return until mid to late April and shouldn’t impact too many fantasy leagues.
The Oakland Athletics suffered a huge blow when they learned that Jesus Luzardo (ADP 236) has a shoulder issue. Luzardo was having an excellent spring, pitched 9 2/3 innings with 15 Ks and only giving up 1 earned run. He was set to be on the brink of cracking the rotation with the A’s. Now we will need to wait till late May or June on him.
The New York Yankees have seen Luis Severino (ADP 43) and Dellin Betances (ADP 292) both heading for the injured list with shoulder issues. Severino has recently thrown pain-free but has said he doesn’t feel ready for the first month of the season. According to Inside Injuries, Severino suffered a Grade 1 rotator cuff sprain. Rotator Cuff sprains are much like a hamstring injury where you need to shut it down for a few weeks to let the body heal itself. I’d move him down to outside the top 100 if you haven’t drafted, and like him around 125 range. Betances has a shoulder impingement and has seen his fastball velocity dip to the high 80s and low 90s. He’ll need some time to catch up on his throwing schedule which should only hold him out for the first 2-3 weeks of the season. If you are looking for a replacement for Dellin at pick 292, I’d highly recommend you give Drew Steckenrider (ADP 302) a look.
The Chicago Cubs have Brandon Morrow set to open the year on the DL with an elbow issue, which has been known for a while. He had orthoscopic surgery back in December of 2018. According to MLB.com, a CT scan revealed that he had a osteochondral defect in the joining of the humerus bone. You can expect him to miss the first month of the season. I’d leave him on the wire until the season opens and snag him off the wire once he’s placed on the injured list. Pedro Strop (ADP 273) suffered a minor hamstring strain in mid-March. You’ll want to watch his situation closely as he shouldn’t miss much time (if any) at all.
The Atlanta Braves have all kinds of injuries in their pitching staff. Mike Foltynewicz has an elbow problem. Folty won’t be ready for the first few week of the season and could be out untill the beginning of May. AJ Minter (ADP 290) has a shoulder issue that could have stemmed from a car accident. He’ll likely return within the first few weeks of April. Mike Soroka (ADP 354) has a shoulder issue and was recently optioned to Triple A. Kevin Gausman (ADP 208) has been working through a shoulder issue. He’s likely on track to miss the first few weeks of the season unless he’s able to ramp up his pitches over the next week.
Michael Fulmer is going for Tommy John. We’ll see you in 2020 – he shouldn’t be drafted even next year. Not a big loss with an ADP of 340.
Clayton Kershaw is expected to return to the Dodgers around the second week of the season. He’s been dealing with a shoulder issue throughout the spring. At his price (ADP 43) I’m avoiding him at all cost and letting someone else risk their season on him.
Andrew Heaney’s (ADP 175) elbow has struck again and he is looking to miss some brief time due some elbow inflammation. He’ll begin the season on the injured list and could linger throughout the season. Although, we saw this last year and he went on to pitch in 180+ innings.
Alex Wood (ADP 242) is set to open the season on injured list due to back spasms. This is an injury that really never quite goes away for pitchers and can cause a significant amount of missed time. The most optimistic timetable for his return would be early to mid-April. I’d expect more like late April/early May, especially if the Reds start hot out of the gates.
Carlos Martinez (ADP 157) isn’t right either in St. Louis. He started flat ground throwing on March 20th, but has been shut down most of the spring due to shoulder issues. Back in late February he received a PRP (Platelet-rich Plasma) injection into his shoulder. There has been speculation that he might be shifted to the bullpen upon his return. He looks to be out until early May.
The latest pitcher to join the injury fray is none other than Rich Hill who has a blis….oh wait, it’s actually a sprained MCL in his right knee. We weren’t counting on 200 IP from Mr. Hill, so his draft price shouldn’t really be affected too much by this news.
Whew! I’m exhausted, and I think I tweaked a shoulder typing this report up. Early reports expect me to miss the next 4 to 5 days for some much-needed rest.