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NL Central – MLB Injury Preview

Nic Civale is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and former NCAA Division I Baseball player. He combines his knowledge of anatomy and physiology with that of baseball mechanics to provide expectations for injured players. Utilize The MLB Injury Report to make the most of your fantasy season.

For more great analysis and rankings, make sure to check out the 2022 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit!

NL Central – MLB Injury Preview

Chicago Cubs 

Nico Hoerner, MI 

The Cubs’ young middle infielder sustained an oblique injury in late July. He was out of action until September due to multiple setbacks, and only saw 5 games and 15 ABs upon his return. Although the oblique is a very difficult in-season injury to come back from, we shouldn’t anticipate any limitations going into 2022. He is listed as probable to start the year healthy. I’d be pretty confident in classifying him as highly likely to start the year at 100%.

David Bote, 2B, 3B 

Bote had a tough season last year, hitting only .199 in 291 ABs. He has, however, shown excellent per-game numbers in past seasons. With the Cubs offense as thin as it has been in the last 6 years, he has a chance to make an impact. Bote, however, will likely miss the first few months of the season due to shoulder surgery to fix a dislocation. This is fairly similar to the Cody Bellinger surgery before last season. He’s definitely not someone to rely on, but in a deeper daily league, he may be someone to pick up off the waiver wire in May if you need infield depth.

Nick Madrigal, MI 

Nick Madrigal is known for his outstanding hit tool and his well-below average power. Unfortunately, now he’s also known for separating his left shoulder in 2020 while sliding into third base. He required surgery to repair the injury and has since returned to MLB action. Last season he posted a .305 average and a .774 OPS, striking out only 17 times in 200 ABs, but also producing only 2 HR.

Madrigal also suffered a severe hamstring injury in 2021, leading to a season-ending diagnosis in mid-June. Madrigal had multiple tears in his right hamstring. As someone who has had many hamstring issues and minor tears, it is an injury that follows you for a while. Madrigal’s bat may take a hit too, as the right hamstring is essential in the biomechanics of the swing, both right-handed and left.

Madrigal’s long-term outlook is still grand, with one of the best hit tools in the game, but 2022 may be a season where he is more focused on staying on the field than making an impact in stolen bases or legging out an extra base on a gapper. I project Madrigal’s upside to be like Dustin Pedroia with less power and more batting average. In 2022 however, I will be cautious about investing too much into the young middle infielder.

Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF 

PCA had a labral tear repair surgery in May of 2021, and is set to return to begin 2022. He has had a nice start to his professional career, albeit very limited. In 32 ABs last year, he hit .417 with 7 walks, 6 Ks, and an OPS over 1.000. Crow-Armstrong is full of potential, and the Cubs hope to squeeze every bit out of him after giving up Javier Baez as part of the deal to get PCA last season.

This situation is similar to Cody Bellinger’s in that it is on his right shoulder, and he’s a left-handed hitter and thrower. The follow-through on his swing will take the most strain, but don’t bail on PCA if he has a slow start to 2022. In fact, that may be an excellent time to try and trade for him in dynasty leagues. He should continue to build up right shoulder strength and stability throughout the course of the season.

Cincinati Reds

TJ Antone, RP 

TJ Antone will miss the 2022 season following Tommy John surgery for a torn UCL. He is a talented and dynamic RP who still has the possibility of being stretched into a starter. My guess is this surgery ultimately makes it easier for him to return definitively as a starter. If you have the space on your dynasty roster, he may be worth keeping around, but don’t expect him back this season.

Nick Senzel, OF 

Senzel underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in May 2021. Even after missing multiple weeks and returning in late summer, he continued to miss time in September due to lingering pain. Ultimately, in September he was ruled out for the season. This is a situation I would be hesitant to invest in unless you’re acquiring Senzel at a very low price. With lingering concerns following arthroscopic surgery, the next thought is an unresolved and thus far undetected injury.

Kyle Farmer, SS 

The former catcher, turned SS played through much of last season with a sports hernia injury. This is a small tear in the lower abdominal tissue that if untreated, could lead to a more serious hernia where intestinal tissue can protrude from the abdominal wall and require more immediate attention. Many sports hernias do not require surgery, but rest and rehab instead. This is the route Farmer has taken this off-season. He was a serviceable fantasy SS last season, and if he beats out prospect Jose Berrero for the job (which seems likely at this point), he may be a 550+ AB SS next season in a favorable hitters’ park. I expect no lingering issues related to the sports hernia in 2022.

Eugenio Suarez, SS, 3B 

Although he enters 2022 with no injury designation, it’s worth noting that Suarez has struggled at the plate relative to his career production since a shoulder surgery back in 2020. With more time after the surgery and a season in which he seems more likely to remain at 3B or DH, I see Eugenio Suarez as a clear bounce-back candidate. My projection for 5×5 category leagues; 81 R, 37 HR, 93 RBI, 1 SB, .241 AVG.

Milwaukee Brewers

Devin Williams, RP 

The Airbender underwent hand surgery in early October to repair a fracture suffered in the final weeks of the season. The dynamic reliever held a 4.00+ ERA into June, but turned it on in the second half, finishing the year with a 2.50 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 87 Ks over 54 innings. He is an amazing talent, and should be ready by mid-march. If he starts out a bit slow this year, I’d hold on tight to Williams, and enjoy his production throughout the rest of the year.

Brent Suter, SP 

Suter Strained his oblique in October and missed some time in the playoffs, but this injury should not have any bearing on the 2022 season. Expect Suter at full strength to start the year. Last year was a resurgent year of sorts for the veteran pitcher, posting a 3.07 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 12 wins.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Travis Swaggerty, OF 

The Pirates’ number 16 prospect in a loaded farm system underwent surgery last June to repair a dislocated shoulder. Many times, this involves repairing any ligaments or tendons that may have partially torn or become significantly stretched during the injury. Swaggerty should be able to start spring training with the club. He was added to the 40-man roster by the Pirates in November, and they seem very invested in their young outfielder

St. Louis Cardinals

All major fantasy contributors for the Cardinals are set to begin the year healthy, including their veteran battery of Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina. Health is a recipe for a long postseason run, and the Cardinals begin the year ahead of most of MLB in the health department.

Things look bleak now but there will be baseball in 2022! Why not get a head start and jump in a Fantrax Classic Draft contest? Get a jump on the season with a Best Ball league or maybe a Draft and Hold. Or put some green on the line with a new season-long league to try and conquer. There’s no better time than now to get your baseball on!
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