It's the final week of the season and teams still lucky enough to be playing are hoping there players will produce for the final few games. If you are still alive then you've survived the marathon season, hopefully by avoiding injuries and properly managing them when they occurred. For those poor individuals simply playing for pride, remember it's never too early to start planning for next season.
The Reds outfielder remains day-to-day after jamming his left thumb while sliding head first into first base. Choo's was attempting to beat out a throw for a potential infield hit. However his decision to go headfirst was ill advised on multiple levels.
To start a study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas failed to uncover any significant difference in speed between the feet-first and headfirst methods. Furthermore sliding headfirst also leaves a player particularly vulnerable to head injuries and, as in the case of Choo, thumb and finger injuries. The headfirst slide may have a lower risk of associated leg injuries but it also takes a large amount of control away from the individual attempting the slide.
To make things worse, the injured left thumb is the same joint that sent Choo under the knife during the 2011 season. The surgeon had to insert a plate and screw to stabilize the previous fracture. Cincinnati's medical staff has evaluated the new injury and do not feel the hardware or the structure of the bone has been compromised. However soreness from the recent injury is lingering and will affect Choo even if he elects to play through the pain. He's hoping to play Monday but dial back your expectations for the remainder of the season.
The Red Sox are hoping to have Ellsbury back in the lineup on Wednesday after he missed the previous three weeks with a non-displaced compression fracture to the navicular bone in his right foot. He has made significant progress in rehab and has resumed baseball related activities. However the primary concern is not Ellsbury's timing at the plate or his reaction time in the field, it's his speed on the base-path, particularly his first step.
I've previously dissected the in-and-outs of Ellsbury's injury but the key takeaway is the importance of the navicular in running and accelerating. The navicular's primary reasonability is in weight transfer, absorbing forces created during ground impact. It also helps generate the high amount of force needed to drive the foot forward when accelerating from a standing position. So while the speedy Ellsbury may be playing, his true value for fantasy owners will likely be diminished. His value takes another hit with the Red Sox having already clinched the division and a postseason berth. The team knows he will be needed for an extended playoff run and they will likely cautiously ease him back into the everyday roster.
It appears the Mets rookie will delay surgery for at least a month or two to see if aggressive rehab will help with his ailing throwing elbow. Diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in late August, Harvey hopes to avoid undergoing Tommy John surgery that would cost him the 2014 season as well. Closely monitor his progress throughout the summer to see if he has the success that has eluded the majority of pitchers that have attempted the non-surgical route. If he does improve, Harvey will enter the 2014 with an elevated level of risk and a much high ADP than this year.
Masterson was an early fantasy surprise, beginning the season with an impressive 8-3 start. However he struggled with consistency for the majority of the year before suffering an oblique strain in an early September start against the Orioles. He's gradually improved his health and threw a one inning simulated game. The Indians are preparing to activate Masterson on Wednesday but this doesn't necessarily mean instant productivity for fantasy owners. Instead of bringing him back as a starter, the Tribe has elected to shift Masterson to the bullpen as he continues to recuperate and build his stamina. By approaching his rehab with the mindset of a relief pitcher, Masterson will be able to mentally prepare and likely return earlier than he would if he was looking to last multiple innings.
Miguel Cabrera: Cabrera's lingering groin pain will likely put him on the bench for a few games as the Tigers attempt to buy the slugger some much needed rest. He's too good to bench in any format but his value in weekly leagues should take a small hit.
Edwin Encarnacion: Shortly after Toronto elected to shut down Jose Bautista due to a hip injury, Encarnacion's season also came to an end. The slugger underwent a wrist debridement to remove tiny particles of cartilage floating within his left wrist. The expected recovery is two months and he should be fine by spring training.
Matt Kemp: He's been activated but has been largely unproductive in his first few games back from a nagging hamstring injury and ankle sprain. He's 2-for-15 over his last five games after an impressive 4-for-4 start in his first full game back. With the Dodgers juggling four outfielders in and out of the lineup, play it safe and look elsewhere for the final week.
Joe Mauer: It doesn't appear that Mauer will return this season after he continues to struggle with concussion-related symptoms. It will be interesting to see how Minnesota handles him moving forward with a shift from behind the plate a realistic option. The former MVP will continue to rest until the symptoms dissipate.
Colby Rasmus: Rasmus's rough year ended with another injury as he was struck in the face during warm-ups. He was taken to a nearby hospital for a CT scan that showed no signs of bone damage.
CC Sabathia: The Yankees shutdown the lefty for the remainder of the season after he suffered a Grade 2 hamstring strain in his start on Friday. The Grade 2 rating indicates there is partially tearing of the muscle. He will miss the next eight-to-10 weeks and can then begin his normal offseason routine.