Players returning from injury
Ramirez has been battling shoulder injury for at least the past year. This has limited his ability to play first base for the Boston Red Sox. The original plan was for Ramirez and Mitch Moreland to form a platoon at first, but a shoulder injury has not made this possible, as Ramirez has only served as DH so far this season. Ramirez admitted that he is focused on hitting right now, and not really worried about playing the field. Over the next couple weeks you can expect Ramirez to be in the lineup as much as possible to help him get into a groove. So far Ramirez’s power has been lacking as he has yet to hit a homerun this year and is only slugging .360, compared to the .505 he slugged last year. Be patient with Ramirez, because there are no signs right now that the shoulder injury is a big deal.
Drew Pomeranz returned from a concerning elbow injury and showed no signs of issues. He pitched very well in his debut, striking out 6, allowing only 1 run in 6 innings. It does not sound like he will have any more issues related with this, but do expect the Red Sox to temper their expectations and limit his innings throughout the year. Due to their poor starting pitching depth, the Red Sox will need to rely on Pomeranz’s arm. He makes a solid SP 3-4 when healthy.
Max Scherzer has looked like his old self since returning with a stress fracture in his knuckle that had many concerned. He struck out 17 in 12.2 innings, with only 4 BB and an ERA of 2.13. Although he has likely changed his fastball group from 2 to 3 finger grip, he is still much more effective than ever. If you can get him cheaper than face value, try to acquire him.
The Toronto Blue Jays’ closer Roberto Osuna was activated from the disabled list earlier this week after missing a little over one week with a neck injury (cervical spasms). Although he blew his first chance at a save yesterday, I do not expect this injury to linger and he should bounce back to his pretty dominant-self in due time. Although the Blue Jays are struggling to start the season, and just put their best player on the DL in Josh Donaldson, I still expect Osuna to have a very solid year, with a respectable ERA and at least 35 saves. Jason Grilli was filling in for him while he was gone, but now will slide into the set up role and is droppable in the majority of leagues.
Player still on the disabled list, but nearing return
Rich Hill and blisters. Those two are quickly becoming synonymous. The good news is that he’ll only miss one start due to his new blister issue, and is expected to start today, on Easter Sunday. In SP2 when healthy, he’ll has continued to struggle with these blisters on his fingers of his pitching hand. The blisters were a recurring theme last season and cause him to miss several starts throughout the year. If he is in the starting lineup you should start him with confidence. Just hold your breath and don’t watch the game, as the guy seems to be a ticking time bomb for injuries. In 2016, Hill dominated in 110 innings, managing a beautiful 10.5 K/9 to go along with a shiny 1.80 ERA. As long as he starts he is very effective I suspect that this is did not the last time we will hear about his blisters.
Adrian Beltre suffered a grade 1 right calf strain in spring training and began the season on the 10-day disabled list. While trying to ramp up his activity last week, Beltre experienced renewed tightness during running drills. This prompted the Rangers to get a new MRI on his calf, which confirmed the continued right calf strain. It takes longer to heal as we get older unfortunately, and calf injuries can be quite annoying especially for baseball players. Do not expect Beltre to return in the next couple of weeks, as the Rangers need his bat in their lineups if they expect to win the division. They cannot afford to have him reinjure it a second time, which would likely lead to an extended absence. Therefore the Rangers will likely give him additional rest so that the injury heals once and for all. Expect Beltre to be back in mid-May.
Coming into the season Martinez was expected to be a top 20-fantasy outfielder and the starting RF for the Detroit Tigers, unfortunately a Lisfranc sprain in Martinez’s right foot derailed this plan. Report has surfaced that Martinez is doing quite well in his rehab and should be returning to playing games in the next few days. He faced live pitching earlier this week in Florida for the first time since his injury. The real test will be when Martinez is either running the bases or in the outfield. Because he plays in the American League, the Tigers have the luxury of having him DH, unfortunately they already have a regular DH in Victor Martinez, so will it be interesting to see how the lineup shakes out once he returns.
The Colorado Rockies caught the injury bug this spring training and unfortunately Dahl was part of that. Dahl was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his rib, and needed to take time off for that to heal. Rib injuries, like costochondritis, can be very painful and difficult to function even in regular daily life without pain, never mind trying to play baseball, swing the bat, and throw a ball. Dahl is expected to return in the next 4 to 6 weeks as long as he’s able to heal appropriately from this rib injury. He is expected to undergo a CT scan on April 21 that will help provide a clear timeline for his return. Currently Gerardo Parra and the recently called up top-prospect Tapia are trying to platoon to fill the void that dahl left when he got injured. Expect Dahl to return to LF, and form a potent OF with Blackmon and CarGo. Once the Colorado Rockies get their full lineup healthy they have the potential to be the scariest offense in the entire league. With Nolan Arenado, Blackmon, CarGo, Desmond, Story, LeMahieu, Dahl and Tom Murphy there will not be too many soft spots in that lineup. If he is available in your league it would be wise to pick him up and put him on the DL.
I personally was very excited when Colorado signed Ian Desmond in the off-season to take over first base for them. Unfortunately for Desmond he broke his hand on March 12, underwent surgery four days later, and has yet to make his debut. Desmond has resumed baseball activities, and now has been able to take grounders and even play catch. It sounds like they’re ramping up his activities and he will be able to participate in batting practice next week. It is possible that Desmond may return by the end of April, but it may be closer to the beginning of May. Meanwhile Mark Reynolds has done a great job taking over and holding the spot for Desmond, hitting .313 with four HRs and 10 RBIs through 11 games. Feel free to grab Reynolds until Desmond returns, and I would try to trade for Desmond if possible since he has a potential to be potent in this scary Colorado lineup.
Murphy suffered a hairline fracture in his right forearm that was confirmed by CT. The results were sent to team Dr. Donald Sheridan, who has outlined a rehab return regiment for Murphy. The initial timeline was approximately 4 to 6 weeks, and no new information has been released about how Murphy is doing. Expect Murphy to return in mid to late May if his rehab assignment goes well and he continues mashing again. Murphy has the potential to be a sneaky game changer fantasy-wise for your team. If you’re able to pick him up off the waiver wire, or trade for him cheaply and put them on the IR…do it.
David Price, the ‘original’ ace of the Boston Red Sox, underperformed last year after signing a monster contract. Now considered their second or even possibly third best pitcher, after Chris Sale and Rick Porcello, Price suffered an elbow injury in spring training. After scaring Red Sox nation with a potential serious elbow injury, it appears that Price has somewhat of a “bionic” and self-healing elbow that continues to remain a mystery. The Red Sox pulled out all the stops when trying to get an accurate diagnosis on Price’s injury, even sending Price and a Red Sox trainer to the NFL combine in early March to be examined by Dr. James Andrews and fellow top-orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache. Based on their evaluation, it appears that Price’s elbow is truly unique, it has somehow been able to heal itself in a way that is unique to Price. Price continues to ramp up his activity and managed to throw a successful bullpen session yesterday. The next step for him is to face live hitters in a simulated game, and if all goes well he would then proceed to a minor-league assignment. This translates to Price returning to the mound sometime in the middle of May, assuming there are no setbacks. To be honest with you, as a proud member of Red Sox nation, I have no idea what lies in store for David Price. While I would like to think that this was just a minor setback, my medical training does not allow me to simply overlook the fact that an elbow injury of this severity is concerning for a pitcher. To say the least I am very concerned about David Price.
Chris Tillman, the “ace” of the Baltimore Orioles, has been slowly working his way back from a shoulder injury. He is expected to make a minor league to rehab start tomorrow at AA. Tillman is expected to throw a maximum of three innings during this outing. If all goes well Tillman may be able to return in early May, but expect the Orioles to be careful with him as they cannot risk reinjuring the shoulder and losing him for an extended period of time.
Another Red Sox pitcher, and an elbow injury. Where have you heard this before? Thornburg, who was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers in a trade this off-season, suffered a right shoulder impingement in early April. He began a throwing program earlier this past week, which had to be halted when he contracted the flu, which was spreading around the Red Sox’s dugout. Expect Thornburg to return in the next 2 to 4 weeks if his shoulder feels better and his velocity returns to normal.
It seems that Carson Smith has been a mystery for the past two years. Shortly being after being acquired by the Red Sox, Smith suffered an elbow injury, which required Tommy John surgery. Smith had been ramping up his workouts in an attempt to return by June, but he experienced some lingering elbow tightness during his last mount workout, and was shut down for 10 days. It appears that Smith is doing better now, and has been cleared to resume throwing bullpen sessions. He could be ready for a minor-league rehab assignment within the next four weeks, and if all goes well he may still be able to return by June. Upon his return, expect Smith to serve as Boston’s set up man, and if your league values holds then it would be very wise to pick him up and stash him on your IR.
Sonny Gray suffered a lat injury in spring training that has prevented him from making his season debut for the Oakland Athletics. Gray is scheduled to throw a three inning simulated game tomorrow in Arizona, and if that goes well he will likely advance to a minor league assignment later next week. Gray has already thrown a couple of times to hitters during a bullpen session earlier this week. Lat injuries are very challenging to return from, especially for pitchers. Pitchers use their back, especially their lats, to generate velocity and strength. This is why lat injuries often cause a pitcher to become hittable, often being accompanied by poor control and decreased velocity. Until Gray is able to get healthy, fix the mechanical issues that plagued him all of last season, I am skeptical that he will be able to return to his once promising pitching career.
Unlike Matt Harvey, Tyson Ross has yet to successfully return from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery. Ross was scratched from his scheduled rehab start earlier this week due to back spasms, which are likely unrelated to his original injury. These back spasms are expected to set Ross back approximately one week in his rehab. Hopefully they will not be a lingering issue throughout the season, and expect Ross to make his season debut sometime in May for the Rangers. I am personally down on Ross this year, until he shows that he can stay healthy.
Junior suffered a significant calf strain during his Opening Day start against the Rockies that will sideline him for at least six weeks. Guerra was an unexpected gem last year for the Brewers, and he was hoping to repeat his success this year, but unfortunately this was not the way he hoped to start the season, but at least it is not an injury to his pitching arm.
Smyly had the potential to be a sneaky SP3 in Seattle, but unfortunately he suffered a significant injury to his pitching elbow. Smyly strained his flexor tendon, and received a platelet rich plasma injection, which will hopefully speed up the healing process. He has already been placed on the 60-day DL, so the Mariners are not expecting him back until at least June. Ariel Miranda is trying to fill in for Smyly but for fantasy reasons Miranda holds little value.