2018 MLB Injury Report: April 20
Michael A. Stein breaks down the injury situations across Major League Baseball, including player profiles, reasons for optimism, and reasons for pessimism.
As we head towards the end of Week 3 of the fantasy baseball season, most GMs have had to deal with some type of adversity due to injuries. No one is immune so do not look for pity or empathy. You should continue being aggressive on the waiver wire and accumulate as much depth as possible so you can weather a storm which, if it hasn’t set in already, will inevitably come your way. So, without further ado, here is the next edition of the fantasy baseball emergency room.
Taijuan Walker (SP-ARZ)
It was reported in our last injury report that Walker was dealing with a forearm injury which is a foreboding sign of needing Tommy John surgery. Sure enough, that is exactly what happened. He is scheduled to undergo the procedure next week and will miss the rest of the 2018 season and into 2019 as well. This is a big loss for the Diamondbacks and fantasy GMs who can safely drop Walker in all formats. If all goes well, he could possibly be back by the All Star break next year.
Ken Giles (RP-HOU)
Giles only has one save in six appearances thus far this season and has not been available to pitch recently due to a back injury. It seems likely that he is headed for the disabled list as Houston does not want to be short in the bullpen and will want to ensure that Giles has sufficient time to rest and recover. Chris Devenski will likely see save opportunities in his absence making him a must-add off the waiver wire.
Ryan Braun (OF-MIL)
Braun has been in and out of the lineup for the past week and has made several pinch hitting appearances due to a calf injury. He slugged his fourth home run of the season on Thursday and should hopefully be back in the lineup on Friday. Braun is hitting .214 with four home runs and 11 RBI thus far and is needed in the middle of the Brewers lineup. His production has regressed compared to where he was a few years ago, but Braun is still a valuable fantasy outfielder capable of hitting 25-30 home runs even at this stage of his career.
Rich Hill (SP-LAD)
It wouldn’t be fantasy baseball season without a Rich Hill injury. The late bloomer has been placed on the disabled list due to a cracked left middle fingernail. Right now it appears that he should be ready to go again once he is eligible to be activated but this is just another example of how frustrating he is to own in fantasy leagues. Hill got shelled in his last start which has inflated his statistics as he is 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA, 1.60 WHIP and 16 strikeouts in 15 innings. Stash him for the next week and hope he is ready to go once the ten days have gone by.
Christian Villanueva (3B-SD)
One of the biggest surprises of the young season is the emergence of Padres third baseman Christian Villanueva who burst on the scene with a three-home run game a couple weeks ago. He is batting .340 with six home runs, 13 RBI and ten runs scored thus far making him a viable fantasy option for now. Whether he can sustain that pace is another story. He is now considered day-to-day after he was hit by a pitch and suffered a bruised hand. The x-rays were negative which is good news, so hopefully the injury does not derail the great start he has gotten off to.
Carlos González (OF-COL)
CarGo is a shell of the player he was a few years ago when he was a legitimate first round pick in any fantasy baseball league. He has a lot of miles on his legs and didn’t re-sign with the Rockies until near the end of spring training. Gonzalez was removed from Wednesday’s game with a strained hamstring after he had made a great play in the outfield. We don’t know the extent of the injury yet, but it seems to be a safe bet that he will end up on the disabled list. Gerardo Parra should see playing time in Gonzalez’s absence making him a short-term waiver wire option.
Ben Zobrist (2B/OF-CHC)
Zobrist is coming off one of the worst offensive seasons of his career and has gotten off to a great start batting .326 with one home run, seven RBI and six runs scored. Unfortunately, he has been dealing with a back injury which has limited his availability this week. He was available to pinch hit if needed which is an indication he should be back in the lineup any day now. Zobrist offers eligibility at multiple positions so as long as he hits he will have value on any fantasy team.
Hunter Pence (OF-SF)
Pence was once a formidable fantasy player but those days seem long gone now. He has gotten off to a horrendous start to the season batting just .172 with no home runs, three RBI, three runs scored and one stolen base. He suffered an injury to his right thumb and we are awaiting results from an MRI. The safe bet is that Pence will land on the disabled list rendering him completely useless and irrelevant from a fantasy perspective.
Byron Buxton (OF-MIN)
The dynamic Byron Buxton has landed on the disabled list due to migraine headaches. The roster move is retroactive to April 15 so he could be back in short order which would be good news for fantasy GMs. Buxton has gotten off to a slow start batting just .195 with no home runs, two RBI, two runs scored but he does already have four stolen bases. There is a lot of upside with Buxton so be patient because he can provide both power and speed when healthy. Ryan LaMarre was called up in Buxton’s place and promptly got the game-winning hit in the 16-inning marathon in Puerto Rico on Wednesday night.
Max Kepler (OF-MIN)
Fellow Twins outfielder Max Kepler left Wednesday’s marathon against Cleveland with a right knee injury. The Twins indicated they were just being cautious and conservative by taking him out and do not expect an extended absence. Kepler is hitting .268 with three home runs, five RBI and five runs scored thus far and is only an OF4 or OF5 option in deep leagues at this point. Check back in later today before lineups are locked and see whether Kepler can make it back onto the field.
Chris Owings (2B/OF-ARZ)
The versatile Chris Owings plays several positions but may be riding the bench for a day or two after he suffered a head contusion in a collision with teammate A.J. Pollock on Thursday. Owings was fortunate to have avoided any concussion symptoms so it does not appear that he will miss too much time. He is batting .269 with one home run, six RBI, ten runs scored and one stolen base on the season and offers fantasy GMs depth and flexibility at multiple positions.
Luis Cessa (SP-NYY)
The Yankees have endured several injuries in the young season including Luis Cessa who was placed on the disabled list with a strained left oblique. He has appeared in three games and has a 4.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and five strikeouts in four innings. Oblique injuries typically require longer than ten days to recover from so expect him to be out for several weeks and then likely sent back to the minor leagues once he is ready to be activated.