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Fantasy Baseball Injury Report: Like a Rube Goldberg Machine

Jeff Stotts

Jeff Stotts works as a Certified Athletic Trainer (MAT, ATC, PES, CES). He won the 2011 Best Fantasy Football Article in Print from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.

Stephen Strasburg
A rough season continues for the once feared right-hander. Strasburg lasted just four innings Sunday after discomfort in his upper back forced him from his start. The injury is the latest in a long string of issues that have limited Strasburg’s productivity and required multiple trips to disabled list. In my previous breakdown of Strasburg’s ailments, I compared him to a Rube Goldberg machine suggesting his injuries were all linked to a breakdown in his kinetic chain. In late May Strasburg missed time with tightness in his left trapezius, the muscle that spans the neck and shoulder. He then returned to the DL in July with a left oblique strain. At the time I hinted he would remain an injury risk until the initial problem in the breakdown, potentially in his mechanics, was directly addressed.

Unfortunately, it appears as if that is exactly what has happened. The Nationals are describing the injury as a “recurrence” of the trapezius strain, though a DL stint is currently not being considered. Strasburg isn’t slated to pitch again until Friday night, allowing for the team to explore all options. Unfortunately, this leaves fantasy owners in a tight spot, especially with MLB rosters set to expand. Benching Strasburg for the week would be a prudent move given the injury and his recent struggles. Furthermore, those invested in the situation have to expect the volatility of the situation and may want to explore other more reliable options for the stretch run.

Yasiel Puig
Reoccurring issues are also limiting the Dodgers outfielder, as Puig was placed on the 15-day DL for the second time this season. The Cuban outfielder missed 39 games earlier this season with a left hamstring strain but is now nursing a strained hamstring on the opposite leg. Unfortunately, strains on both legs have a direct cross-over effect and make the injury more difficult to manage. Like Strasburg, the initial strain likely caused a trickle down effect, this time forcing the opposite leg to compensate for the strain. As a result, Puig’s left leg probably become overworked, which made it more susceptible to injury. Whatever the reason, Puig will be sidelined for at least 15 days and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him miss additional time, despite a sense of optimism from the Dodgers. Like Strasburg, it’s easy to look past the situation given the high profile of the player involved. However, players can’t produce from the dugout and an expanded roster also complicates things. Stash him if you can but Puig’s value for the remainder of the season remains substantially diminished.

Check Swings

A.J. Burnett
The Pirates right-hander pitched a pain-free bullpen session and hopes to return during the club’s four-game series against the Cubs that starts Sept. 15. The veteran has not pitched since the end of July when he was diagnosed with a strained flexor tendon in his throwing elbow. Initially it was feared Burnett’s career could be over but he’s improved enough for the Pirates to adjust their rotation. While I’m happy Burnett will be able to conclude his career on his own terms, the risk of re-injury is high and he struggled in his three starts after the All-Star break. He could be worth a flier if you are desperate for pitching but I wouldn’t drop a serviceable player to add Burnett.

Carlos Correa
Correa has missed four straight games with a strained left hamstring though he was able to run over the weekend. It looks as if the Houston shortstop will avoid a trip to the DL, though he admitted the team is willing to show patience with his return. He’s a risky play this week even if he returns in time for the team’s three-game series with the Mariners starting Monday.

Alex Gordon
The Royals will welcome Gordon back Tuesday but plan on providing their left fielder will plenty of rest following his severe groin strain. Manager Ned Yost has already stated that Gordon will be limited to four to five games per week and any setback would result in an immediate shut down. As a result, Gordon’s fantasy value takes a hit, especially in weekly formats, and he’s best utilized in a utility role.

Randal Grichuk
The Cardinals are targeting a mid-September return for Grichuk as he continues to progress through his rehab. The rookie outfielder has been on the DL since Aug. 17 with a right elbow strain and low-grade sprain. The club’s overall record will allow them to take a conservative approach in his care and it looks as if Grichuk remains a few weeks away.

Billy Hamilton
The speedy outfielder remains limited by his sprained shoulder capsule and will not be activated when first eligible later this week. Hamilton continues to wear a brace on the injured area and has yet to resume baseball-related activity. As a result, a mid-September return seems like a best-case scenario and a struggling Cincinnati team will have little motivation to rush him back.

Rougned Odor
The Rangers infielder missed the last five games after tearing the fingernail off the middle finger of his right hand. He has worn a splint on the injured digit but the ligaments and bones appear intact. A return seems imminent as he was seen taking infield drills Sunday. Look for him to return to the lineup early this week, with Monday a real possibility.

Giancarlo Stanton
Miami’s hard-hitting outfielder will begin a rehab stint Tuesday with High-A Jupiter and hopes to rejoin the big league team Friday. Stanton has not played since breaking his hamate bone, an injury that ultimately required surgery. The long-term affects of the procedure are minimal, though Stanton may need some time to get back to top form. Feel free to utilize him in daily leagues while those in weekly formats will want to wait until next week.

Junichi Tazawa
The Red Sox reliever has lost the closer role after struggling in his last few appearances. A lingering hip and groin injury may be the culprit behind his poor performances as Boston held him out of this weekend’s games. Jean Machi takes over the ninth-inning duties for the Red Sox and is worth adding in most formats. Tazawa will return to a set-up role when the soreness in the hip dissipates.