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Medical Corner: Will Kris Bryant Be Out Longer Than We Thought?

Dr. Mike Tanner provides his fantasy diagnosis, updating Fantasy owners on the MLB injuries that are ailing their teams. This week’s MLB injury update features some of baseball’s brightest young stars.

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MLB Injury Update for June 28

Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs

The Cubs are very tight-lipped about this injury, calling it inflammation in his left shoulder. Bryant himself attributed the problem to extra time in the batting cages. ‘Shoulder inflammation’ isn’t enough information for me to give a precise recommendation. The most likely scenario is a simple muscle strain or bursitis (a fluid-filled sac in between bone and tendons in the shoulder acting as a ball bearing that can get very upset). Either a muscle strain or bursitis is a two-week recovery. Given the proximity of the All-Star break, and the ability to give him another week off, it would be wise for the Cubs to let him return immediately after the break. Expected Return: July 20

Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees

Groin strains are terrible. They are typically very nagging injuries, and even pure strains can linger longer than expected. A reasonable timetable for return would be 10-14 days, putting him back in the lineup around July 8-10. With the All-Star break just a week away, the Yankees may decide to give him another week to fully recover. Expected Return: July 20

Michael Wacha, SP, St. Louis Cardinals

Reports seem to be all over the place with his injury, but here’s the skinny. A moderate (grade 2) strain equates to a partial tear in the oblique. He’ll be shut down for at least a month to allow time for the tissue to heal correctly (injured 6/20). Then he will need to begin a throwing program and ramp back up. He’ll miss six weeks on the low end and up to 10 on the conservative end. An assignment to the 60-day DL isn’t out of the question. Expected Return: Early to Mid-August.

Aaron Sanchez, SP, Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays are calling his injury a ‘finger contusion,’ which makes very little sense. A contusion (bruise) happens after impact. A few things are interesting about his one-inning outing. He didn’t throw his curveball in the outing, lacked command, and it is likely that he already knew a problem was brewing and feared a blister. Sanchez to the bullpen looks like the best option for his health at this point in his career. Too bad, he’s 25, has some nasty stuff, but is also looking like the younger version of Rich Hill. Expected Return: Unknown, but August wouldn’t surprise me.

Matt Chapman, 3B, Oakland Athletics

After getting drilled by a pitch on 6/13, Chapman has been out of commission for longer than expected. He has received two cortisone shots to alleviate the pain and will attempt hitting today. The injury is at the base of his thumb, the first metacarpal, and could be described as a bone bruise. If his batting practice goes well, he could rejoin the lineup within a week or venture out to a rehab assignment if the A’s feel he is a bit rusty. If batting doesn’t go well, he could be out until mid to late-July.

Trending Down:

A.J. Pollock – Suffered an avulsion fracture on May 14 and was expected to be out for about two months. He is a little behind schedule and has not resumed baseball activities, so add a few weeks to that, and his return will likely be in very late July/early August. Expected Return: Early August

Michael Soroka – A transfer to the 60-day DL means he isn’t eligible to return until late August. The Braves did the right thing and will allow their 20-year-old emerging arm to get well. Long-term, I do not have concerns and will enjoy watching his beautiful sinker in the fall. Expected Return: Late August

Caleb Smith – A pleasant surprise for the Marlins and fantasy owners, Smith is done for 2018 with or without surgery. Expected Return: 2019

Ervin Santana – He still can’t reach 90 mph with his fastball. We may have seen the last of an effective Santana (age 35, 2,300 innings), or at least for 2018. He is going out on a rehab assignment in Low-A, and the results will dictate if we see him in August this year.

Jeff Samardzija – His ERA in four rehab starts against minor league hitting is 9.69. The shoulder doesn’t seem ready to roll if you ask me.

Trending up:

Noah Syndergaard – He Completed a 30-pitch bullpen session, meaning he is well enough to let loose with supervision. He’ll need to build up his volume now that he’s been out since May 26. If the Mets play his return conservatively (9.5 games back from the wildcard), he should return after the All-Star break. If the Mets insist upon being the Mets, he’ll return sooner.

Julio Urias – The forgotten number one prospect has been progressing well. I’m not optimistic that he’ll be a starter long-term based on his previous injury (shoulder capsule repair), but I do think he’ll be a useful source of strikeouts and ratios in deeper leagues. His progression suggests he’ll be in the minors in late July and the Majors as soon as mid-August. Dynasty leaguers may want to check the wire now before the hype trains gains momentum.

Yu Darvish – Should be back in the next two weeks and his results in the minors were very good (5 IP, 1 ER, 5K, 0 BB).

For more great fantasy baseball analysis with a Sabermetric slant, check out the Fantrax Radio Network and the Launch Angle Podcast.

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