**These reports are prepared by Ryan Dumouchel and Jose Maldonado.
Welcome to the Last Word On Sports 2015 Weekly Injury Report. This will be a series of reports updated every week to give you the insight and advantage you need to make any necessary changes to your lineup. It can be tough trying to decipher whether a particular injury is serious enough to keep a player off the field for an extended amount of time and we here at LWOS want to provide you with the best up to date information available. We will also provide analysis and, at times, bench and minor league player recommendations that will gain more playing time because of an injury. Be smart and don’t let the injury bug ruin your team and your chance for a Fantasy Baseball Championship.
Without further ado, here is the injury report for the week of March 8 2015:
HOMER BAILEY, SP, CINCINNATI REDS
The Injury: Bailey is currently recovering from forearm surgery and should be back by Opening Day. Last Monday, he pitched in a bullpen session.
What It Means: As it stands, Bailey looks to be a decent late-round pick for starting pitching depth as his current ADP is 181.3. In 2012 & 2013, he pitched 200+ innings. Assuming he continues to make progress in his recovery, he should put up respectable numbers in 2015.
WILLIE BLOOMQUIST, SS, SEATTLE MARINERS
The Injury: Bloomquist is currently recovering from knee surgery that he had in August and is very likely to be ready by Opening Day.
What It Means: In terms of Fantasy, not very much. Bloomquist does not get regular playing time (only season over 400 PA was 2009) and has put up underwhelming numbers when he has played.
MIGUEL CABRERA, 1B, DETROIT TIGERS
The Injury: Cabrera is currently recovering from foot surgery and is likely to be back by Opening Day. It is possibly that he will begin fielding exercises in early-March
What It Means: Last week, Cabrera made progress as he was participating in batting practice over the last week. While Cabrera should be back by opening day, this injury does leave a cloud of uncertainty. Even though this will likely have an impact on his stock, he is still likely to be drafted in the first round. If you are one of those people looking to draft him in the 1st round, pay VERY close attention to how this recovery progresses.
MATT CAIN, SP, SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
The Injury: Cain is currently recovering from elbow surgery that he had in August and should be ready for Opening Day. On Thursday, he faced live hitting for the first time.
What It Means: Cain had his worst season as a pro last year, with a 4.18 ERA & 4.58 FIP. It is possible that these numbers from last year may have been a product of trying to pitch through this injury. If you are considering using a late-round pick on Cain, we would advise to closely monitor the recovery progress of this injury. Cain is tentatively scheduled to make his first Spring Training start on March 10.
Even with a full recovery, it may be too much to ask for a repeat of 2011-2012 when he had sub-3 ERA’s. Currently, his ADP is at 224.5 and is at least worth a late round draft pick.
RUSNEY CASTILLO, OF, BOSTON RED SOX
The Injury: Castillo has a left oblique strain and is expected to miss more than one week of Spring Training. He still could possibly be ready for Opening Day.
What It Means: Currently, Castillo’s ADP is at 132.8 and the possibility of him missing time is not going to help his stock. While there is potential for greatness, Steamer currently has him projected to have a solid but not spectacular line of .279/.322/.422, 13 HR, and 15 SB.
PATRICK CORBIN, SP, ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
The Injury: Corbin is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery that he had in March and he may be back as early as June.
What It Means: For draft status, best-case scenario would be a late round pick for deeper and NL-only leagues. While he had solid 2013 numbers, 3.41 ERA/7.69 K/9 in most cases Corbin isn’t worth drafting due to the expectation of missed time.
While a partial season of the above numbers may not be worth drafting, Corbin may be a reasonable waiver wire pick up when he returns and if he shows the potential to repeat the numbers that he had in 2013. According to a recent report, Corbin is getting very close to throwing off the mound.
SEAN DOOLITTLE, RP, OAKLAND ATHLETICS
The Injury: Doolittle is currently recovering from a left rotator cuff tear. While a recent ultrasound revealed that this injury is healing, it is unclear when he will be back in action.
What It Means: Doolittle got his first chance to close last year and got 22 SV with a 2.73 ERA & 12.78 K/9. With Doolittle missing the early part of the season that temporarily opens up the closer position for the Athletics. This injury makes the A’s closer situation something that demands strong attention as spring training progresses. One recent report indicates that Tyler Clippard is the most likely player to get an opportunity to close to start this year.
YU DARVISH, SP, TEXAS RANGERS
The Injury: Darvish left his latest Spring Training start due to right triceps. On Saturday, it was reported that he has an UCL strain in his right elbow and that he may need Tommy John surgery. He is scheduled to receive a second opinion.
What It Means: Obviously, this is not good news. If you have already done your draft and used an early round pick to draft Darvish, this is probably what you don’t want to hear. If you haven’t done your draft and were thinking about drafting Darvish, you have some time to find a back up option. While the second opinion’s he get may give him better news, as of now things do not look good for Darvish.
LUCAS DUDA, 1B, NEW YORK METS
The Injury: Duda has a left intercostal strain. Currently, he appears to be making progress in recovery from this injury. Duda swung of a tee for the first time on Wednesday and is on track to start taking batting practice next week.
What It Means: While he is not expected to miss time, this could put a dent on his Fantasy Value. Personally, I had been bullish on his ability to repeat his 30 HR outburst from last year. However, if this is an injury that lingers throughout the season this could impact his main fantasy strength of hitting for power.
JOSE FERNANDEZ, SP, MIAMI MARLINS
The Injury: Fernandez is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery and is scheduled to be back by June. His recovery appears to be moving along as he threw off the mound for the first time on March 1.
What It Means: For the back end of the draft, it leaves us with an interesting dilemma. Since Fernandez was very dominant over his first 36 starts (2.25 ERA, 10.31 K/9), do you stash him on your roster until he returns from injury or pass in favor of a less talented pitcher with a cleaner bill of health. Despite the expectation of significant missed time, his ADP is at 173.3 based on his pre-injury dominance.
ALEX GORDON, OF, KANSAS CITY ROYALS
The Injury: Gordon is recovery from right wrist surgery and is likely to be ready by Opening Day.
What It Means: At this point, he appears to be making progress as he has tentatively slated to start taking on field batting practice on March 9th. If you are targeting Gordon, we would recommend closely monitoring the recovery from this injury to make sure that he continues to stay on track to be ready on Opening Day.
JOSH HAMILTON, OF, LOS ANGELES ANGELS
The Injury: Hamilton is currently recovering from shoulder surgery. The recovery process does not seem to be going very fast as Hamilton has yet to report to Spring Training.
What It Means: Over the last few seasons, Hamilton’s value has trended downwards due to a continual stream of injuries and decreased production since signing with the Angels. At this point, he’s likely to at least miss some time due to his injury. While Hamilton may also be suspended, one thing to keep in mind is that any suspension he receives would likely start on Opening Day and not when he fully recovered from his injury. The news coming this week is that the panel that is responsible for deciding his punishment is deadlocked on how to handle his situation
MATT HARVEY, SP, NEW YORK METS
The Injury: Harvey is currently recovering from October 2013 Tommy John surgery and appears on track to be ready by Opening Day. Harvey threw his first bullpen session on Wednesday which went off without a hitch. Harvey made his first Spring Training start on Friday.
What It Means: His start on Friday showed some encouraging signs. In addition to retiring all the batters he faced, his fastball also topped out at 99 mph.
Harvey was out the entire 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery but appears on track to have a strong season. If you are thinking of drafting Harvey, it is crucial that you keep a close eye on how he progresses during Spring Training. While there are concerns about how long it will take for him to get back into form and how his innings will be limited, his talent and performance in 2012-2013 is too strong to ignore.
TIM HUDSON, SP, SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
The Injury: Hudson is recovering from right ankle surgery and will possibly be ready by Opening Day. Hudson also pitched to live batters for the first time on Thursday.
What It Means: While he does not appear to be on track to miss anytime, the combination of being 39 and recovering from surgery does not exactly spell fantasy value. Currently his ADP is 337.3 and would only be worth targeting in either deeper or NL only leagues.
KENLEY JANSEN, RP, LOS ANGELES DODGERS
The Injury: Jansen is out until late April after having left foot surgery.
What It Means: The good news is that Jansen has taken one step towards recovery as Jansen had the cast removed from his foot and had it replaced with a weight bearing boot which will allow him to increase his workout activity.
The Dodgers closer situation will need to be closely monitored during Spring Training. One of the possible candidates to grab the closer spot is Brandon League. While League does have some experience in the closer role, even if he were to get what appears to be a temporary job, his success would be far from guaranteed. League’s career ERA of 3.65 is under-whelming and his 6.34 K/9 is less than imposing.
JONATHAN LUCROY, C, MILWAUKEE BREWERS
The Injury: Lucroy has a right hamstring sprain and is likely to be ready for Opening Day.
What It Means: While Lucroy appears to be relatively active at this point, we would highly recommend closely monitoring the recovery process for this injury as Spring Training progresses. While this could leave him at less than 100% at the start of the season, this shouldn’t have too much impact on his draft stock. One encouraging thing to note is that the recovery process has been moving along quickly so far.
NICK MARKAKIS, OF, ATLANTA BRAVES
The Injury: Markakis is currently recovering from neck surgery that he had in December. He has been cleared to resume normal activity and will possibly be ready to play by Opening Day.
What It Means: While Markakis is not on track to miss any time, this doesn’t exactly help is already modest value (his ADP is at 287.3).
VICTOR MARTINEZ, 1B, DETROIT TIGERS
The Injury: Martinez is currently recovering from left knee surgery and is likely to be ready by Opening Day.
What It Means: Martinez has reported to Spring Training and is working towards recovery. Last week, he starting taking practice swings and running on a treadmill.
Drafting Martinez was already somewhat of a risky proposition due to his age and it being unlikely that his power outburst from last year was repeatable. Being injured this close to the start of the season merely adds to the risk, especially since he will be spending less time at Spring Training.
MIKE MINOR, SP, ATLANTA BRAVES
The Injury: Minor currently has left shoulder tightness after feeling discomfort while throwing on March 3.
What It Means: There is a reasonable fear that this goes beyond left shoulder tightness. Minor is scheduled to see Dr. James Andrews. Anytime a pitcher’s name and the phrase “is scheduled to see Dr. James Andrews” is in the same sentence, there is a strong chance that said player is missing more than a few starts. Unless good news arises from this appointment, we would advise to avoid drafting Minor.
BRANDON MOSS, 1B/OF, CLEVELAND INDIANS
The Injury: Moss is currently recovering from hip surgery from October and is slated to return by Opening Day. While he is expected to miss part of Spring Training, he is expected to resume game activity around mid-March.
What It Means: Recovery from this injury appears to be on the right track. He ran the bases with no issues during a workout on March 2 and appears on track to start playing in some Spring Training games in early-March.
In the long-term, this does not appear to impact his Fantasy Value. His current ADP is at 170 and he still looks on track to be a source of 25+ HR power with a mediocre batting average.
JAKE MCGEE, RP, TAMPA BAY RAYS
The Injury: McGee is currently recovering from left elbow surgery and is expected to be back in May. One recent update indicates that McGee has started to play catch from a distance of 105 feet.
What It Means: McGee excelled in the closer role last year saving 19 games. He also had a 1.89 ERA & 11.13 K/9. With McGee expected to miss time, the competition for the Rays closer job in Spring Training is something that needs to be watched closely. The main candidates to get save opportunities at least for the first month of the season are Grant Balfour, Brad Boxberger and Ernesto Frieri.
ANGEL PAGAN, OF, SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
The Injury: Recovering from back surgery he received in September of 2014. He is a possible for Opening Day.
What It Means: Pagan adds value in average and SB but with 129 games missed the last 2 seasons due to injuries, he has been pushed to later round picks status (Fantasy Pros ADP 348). The OF depth of players in mixed leagues is pretty deep as well making Pagan a deep league or NL only option.
BOBBY PARNELL, P, NEW YORK METS
The Injury: Recovering from Tommy John Surgery he received in April of 2014. A CBS sports report states he will more than likely miss the first 2-3 weeks of the season.
What It Means: Parnell may miss the first few weeks of the season but he is eyeing the closer role upon his return. He did have 22 saves in 50 IP in 2013. If he is not drafted in your league (Fantasy Pros ADP is 385 so it’s highly likely) he could be an excellent waiver wire addition if he does regain his former position.
HUNTER PENCE, OF, SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
The Injury: Pence suffered a broken left forearm from a HBP during a spring training game. He is expected to miss 6-8 weeks.
What It Means: A threat for 20+ HR and 10+ SB with a solid AVG, Pence has certainly been a hot commodity in drafts so far (Fantasy Pros ADP 56.7). The good news is that this happened early in Spring Training so he should, barring any setbacks, only miss about 2-3 weeks of the regular season. Hold tight if you’ve already drafted him, as the injury is not season threatening. If you haven’t, I see no problem in drafting Pence, as long as you draft a backup to fill in until he returns.
GARRETT RICHARDS, P, LOS ANGELES ANGELS
The Injury: Recovering from knee surgery he received in August of 2014. He is possible for Opening Day.
What It Means: Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets out that Richards will throw a live bullpen session for the first time this spring. This is obviously a good sign in his goal to be ready to go for Opening Day. After a breakout year in 2014 (2.61 ERA) he should be a solid pick for 2015. If he doesn’t make Opening Day, he will more than likely be ready a couple of starts after.
CHRIS SALE, P, CHICAGO WHITE SOX
The Injury: Sale suffered an avulsion fracture on the lateral side of his left foot. He is expected to miss at least 3 weeks.
What It Means: Apparently, there was an accident at his home and Sale came into camp with the injured foot. CBS Sports John Heyman reports that Sale has a slim chance to make Opening Day, but hopefully he will only miss the first couple starts of the season. Since his introduction as a starter in 2012, Sale has been a dominant force on the hill. His 626 strikeouts rank 7th among qualified starting pitchers and his 2.79 ERA ranks 5th between 2012-2014. We will continue to keep a close eye on this injury, as Sale is a highly coveted fantasy asset (Fantasy Pros ADP 18.5).
MICHAEL SAUNDERS, OF, TORONTO BLUE JAYS
The Injury: Saunders has a torn meniscus in his left knee that he suffered in Spring Training. He is expected to miss the first half of the season.
What It Means: This is a big blow for Saunders and the Blue Jays as he is the type of player who, when healthy, has the ability to put up a 20/20 season at a cheap price (Fantasy Pros ADP 338). It is not his first time dealing with an injury either, missing 68 games in 2014 and 39 games between 2012-2013. This was considered a freak accident but Saunders can definitely be categorized as injury prone. Look for him on the waiver wire (if he is available) after the All-Star break.
NICK SWISHER, 1B, CLEVELAND INDIANS
The Injury: Recovering from left and right knee surgery he received in August of 2015. He is possible for Opening Day
What It Means: Swisher has not been the same since his departure from New York. His power (.380 SLG with Cleveland compared to a career .453 SLG) and average (.230 AVG with Cleveland compared to a career .251 AVG) have been on the decline since 2012. Some of that may have been due to injury and park factors but, with knee surgeries under Swisher’s belt, fantasy owners are a lot more cautious in selecting him (Fantasy Pro ADP 445) and we suggest you to do the same.
MELVIN (B.J.) UPTON JR., OF, ATLANTA BRAVES
The Injury: A MRI showed inflammation in his left foot. He is expected to miss 6-8 weeks.
What It Means: Upton was looking to bounce back this year as his time in Atlanta has not been pretty (.198/.279/.314 with only 15 HR in 267 games). Fantasy owners have been disappointed when drafting Upton and it’s definitely showing this year (Fantasy Pros ADP 368). At this point, Upton is strictly deep NL only league material until proven otherwise.
ADAM WAINWRIGHT, P, ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
The Injury: Wainwright left Spring Training dealing with abdominal pain. He is possible for Opening Day.
What It Means: Wainwright was diagnosed with an abdominal strain but reports from Spring Training are that he had a high intensity bullpen session on Thursday and will throw a live bullpen on Sunday. He stated that he felt good and reported no pain. Wainwright should be safe to draft (Fantasy Pros ADP 38, career 3.01 ERA, at least 198 IP in the last 5 seasons). However, he is going on 34 and one wonders how long Wainwright can keep up his dominance.
JAYSON WERTH, OF, WASHINGTON NATIONALS
The Injury: Recovering from shoulder surgery he received in January of 2015. He is possible for Opening Day
What It Means: Jayson Werth is hoping to make Opening Day, as his surgery was considered minimally invasive. He took light swings with a bat for the first time since his surgery in January on Wednesday. His progress is actually ahead of schedule, as he wasn’t expected to take any swings until Friday. He should be a solid mid round pick (Fantasy Pros ADP 125) that contributes in multiple categories. However you will want a backup to fill in for him if he does miss the first week or so of the season.
MATT WIETERS, C, BALTIMORE ORIOLES
The Injury: Recovering from Tommy John Surgery he received in June of 2014. He is possible for Opening Day
What It Means: Matt Wieters will be participating in Spring Training per Bleacher Report. If all goes well, Wieters should be in the line-up come Opening Day. He should also be a solid mid round pick (Fantasy Pros ADP 161; averaged over 20 HR and 68 RBI from 2011-2013) if you miss out on the early round catchers.
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