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MLB Barometer: Injury Issues Resolving

Kyle McKeown

Kyle McKeown

Managing Editor of NBA Content kyle@rotowire.com

The Barometer is an overview of the players that have taken a rise or fall in value over the last week of action. Players in the stock up section have solidified an increase in value by returning to health or seeing an increase in playing time, players in the check status section are dealing with injury issues that have made them a question mark going forward, and players in the stock down section have lost value over the last week due to a recent injury or a projected loss of playing time.

Stock Up:

Fernando Rodney, P, LAA - Rodney's status as the team's closer became more solid with Scott Downs' injury. Downs will start the season on the disabled list with a fractured big toe. Rodney always catches a lot of flack due to his high ERA, and rightly so. He's done a terrifically mediocre job keeping it north of 4.00 the last four seasons. However, save chances are unique in fantasy in that they force us to turn a blind eye to all sorts of horrors, Rodney's ERA included. No matter how high a pitcher's ERA is or how low his strikeout rate is, if he's in line to get saves, he has to be drafted. He has to be owned. More than defending Rodney, this post is meant to refocus anyone who would dare swear off Rodney, or any other pitcher with closing duties, because of their peripheral stats.

Drew Storen, P, WAS / Sean Burnett, P, WAS - Storen and Burnett have been anointed as the first guys in line to receive save opportunities to begin the season. That's notable and should give both of them a modest boost on draft boards, but it's also worth mentioning that manager Jim Riggleman didn't rule out the possibility of looking Tyler Clippard or Todd Coffey's way for a save if the situation called for it. Washington doesn't appear to be the safest place to shop for saves in drafts this season, but sometimes you have to take them where you can get them. Storen was the man closing out games at the end of last season, so despite all of the talk about a carousel of closers sharing the job and Riggleman's talk about, "Sometimes, the save comes in the seventh or eighth," if there's one guy out of Washington worth taking a chance on it's Storen.

Will Rhymes, 2B, DET - Rhymes will start at second on Opening Day with Carlos Guillen beginning the season on the DL. The 28-year-old hit .304 with 29 RBI and 30 runs in 54 games with the Tigers in 2010. Guillen is expected to reclaim the starting role once healthy, but the team hasn't even announced a timetable for his return. Grab Rhymes in deep AL-only leagues if you need someone at the middle-infield slot late in your draft.

Luis Castillo, 2B, PHI - Castillo was brought in on a minor-league contract after the Mets released him. He hasn't even been given a roster spot yet, but Wilson Valdez isn't much of a roadblock when considering the wall Castillo will have to knock down in trying to earn the fill-in role at second base with Chase Utley expected to begin the season on the DL. If you're in a ridiculously deep league, Castillo's status with the Phillies is worth watching.

Ivan Nova, P, NYY - Nova will be the Yankees' No. 4 starter. Manager Joe Girardi confirmed the decision Saturday. He's had a stellar spring, posting a 1.80 ERA and 0.75 WHIP over 20 innings. Anyone starting for the Yankees has the potential to pile up wins, but don't look to Nova for help in strikeouts. In 67 innings at Triple-A Scranton last season, Nova had averaged a mediocre 6/K9.

Andrew Cashner, P, CHC - Cashner was named the Cubs' fifth starter Saturday. In 54 innings out of the bullpen last season, Cashner mowed down 50 batters. He's a great pitcher to take a flier on late in drafts due to his high strikeout rate.

Neftali Feliz, P, TEX - The Rangers finally made a definitive decision to keep Feliz as their closer this season. While it would have interesting to see what kind of damage he could have done as a starter, it's a relief to have the closer situation in Texas settled.

Brian Roberts, 2B, BAL - Roberts played in four straight games this week, suggesting that the back issues that have plagued his spring are largely behind him. He's slipped in drafts this spring due to health questions, but it's now time to consider moving him back up your draft boards a few spots.

Check Status:

Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, WAS - Zimmerman was shut down for 10 days with a mild groin injury, but he returned to the lineup Friday. He'll be fine going into the season. When the injury originally occurred, Zimmerman said he would have played through it if it happened during the season. The team was just being cautious with their star third baseman.

Chase Utley, 2B, PHI - Utley is expected to start the season on the DL. His knee injury is improving according to the trainers and doctors, but Opening Day is less than a week away, and Utley hasn't returned to the field yet. Based on his upside, he's worth grabbing in the mid-to-late rounds of drafts, but we're not taking him as early as we would be if he were ready to play right now.

Adrian Beltre, 3B, TEX - Beltre hasn't had any issues with his calf since returning to action two nearly two weeks ago. He appears to be healthy and ready for the season.

Rickie Weeks, 2B, MIL - Weeks was bothered by a mild groin strain two weeks ago, but he was never forced to miss any time with the injury. He appears to be healthy and ready for the season.

Michael Stanton, OF, FLA - Stanton returned to action Thursday and quickly belted two home runs. He was dealing with a quad injury since the end of February, but it seems to be behind him now. As the team's cleanup hitter, Stanton is poised to post some potentially monstrous power numbers this season. Don't let the 21-year-old slugger drop too far in your drafts. With nine RBI in his first two games of the spring, it appears he's gotten past his quad injury.

Justin Mourneau, 1B, MIN - Morneau hasn't had any setbacks this spring. The concussion issues that forced him out of action last season and dropped his draft stock seem to be behind him. He'll visit with doctors this week to get final clearance for the regular season, but there's little reason to think he won't be cleared.

Stephen Drew, SS, AZ - Drew sat out four days this week with an abdominal strain, but he returned to action Saturday, is in Sunday's lineup, and believes the injury is getting better.

Jason Bay, OF, NYM - Bay sat out Saturday's game with a stiff back, but he has been insistent that the injury is not serious. He went back to old batting mechanics this spring and believes he'll rediscover the success he had at the plate prior to his disappointing showing last season.

Matt Cain, P, SF - Cain experienced some elbow inflammation this spring, but it appears he's recovered from the issue. He went through a normal throwing session Friday without any noticeable discomfort. Cain has thrown over 200 innings for four straight seasons, but for some reason, he always seems to go a little later in drafts than he should. Don't pass on him if he drops to you at a good value spot.

Tommy Hanson, P, ATL - Hanson had a start delayed earlier this week due to a sore back, and he was lit up for five runs when he finally made his start Wednesday. The Braves insist the injury is minor, and Hanson isn't expected to miss any more time.

Chris Carpenter, P, STL - Carpenter threw 86 pitches in his start Saturday and appears to have moved beyond the hamstring injury that has limited him this spring.

Shaun Marcum, P, MIL - Marcum threw a bullpen session Friday and appears to have recovered from the stiffness that caused him to be removed from his start last week. He's expected to start the Brewers' second game of the season.

Roy Oswalt, P, PHI - Oswalt threw a successful bullpen session Friday and is on track to pitch Tuesday. He was struck on the neck by a line drive last week, but it doesn't appear as though he's at any risk of missing time going forward.

Casey McGehee, 3B, MIL - McGehee has said he could be playing if it was the regular season, but the team has opted to rest his knee as a precaution. He's expected to be ready for Opening Day.

Torii Hunter, OF, LAA - Hunter left Thursday's game with tightness in his right quad. The team doesn't believe the injury is serious, and he could return to the lineup as early as Sunday.

Stock Down:

Tyler Clippard, P, WAS - The Nationals announced Friday that Drew Storen and Sean Burnett would be given the bulk of the save opportunities at the start of the season. That puts Clippard third in line. Deep-league players may want to roster Clippard as a handcuff, but beyond that, Storen is ultimately believed to be the favorite for saves in Washington.

Mat Latos, P, SD - Latos has an inflamed bursa sac in his shoulder. The Padres are only considering him day-to-day right now, but they also consider it unlikely that he'll be ready to make the start on Opening Day. We're dropping him a few spots on our draft boards until his injury issue is resolved.

Aaron Hill, 2B, TOR - Hill returned to the lineup Saturday after being given the day off Friday. The Jays are taking a cautious approach with his quad injury. He seems to be recovering well, but the Jays' unwillingness to clear him for the start of the regular season is why we're knocking his stock down for now.

Vernon Wells, OF, LAA - Wells left Wednesday's game with tightness in his hamstring. The team insisted it was just a precautionary move, but he hasn't returned to the lineup since. Move him down on your draft boards until he shows he's healthy enough to play.

Curtis Granderson, OF, NYY - Granderson said he's 50-50 for Opening Day. Move him down on your draft boards accordingly. He hopes to play in a spring training game Monday, but he also felt some slight tightness and discomfort while taking swings and running the bases Saturday.

Corey Hart, OF, MIL - Hart isn't expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. The Brewers want to make sure he gets enough batting reps before sending him in when the games matter. However, they're also reluctant to give him too heavy of a training regimen and risk having him aggravate his oblique injury.