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The Fantasy Injury Exam Room - Bellinger, Soto, Price and More


In our weekly feature in collaboration with Inside Injuries, we take a comprehensive look into major injuries and their Fantasy implications.

The medical team at Inside Injuries breaks down each player’s outlook from physical perspectives. RotoBaller then provides in-depth fantasy recommendations based on the impact of every injury breakdown. It’s an unrivaled combination of medical and fantasy expertise, designed to help you gain a true advantage in your roster management.

Inside Injuries predicts the impact of injuries on player performance by using data analytics, medical expertise and statistical modeling.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off. Exclusive access to our Draft Kit, premium rankings, projections, player outlooks, top sleepers, dynasty and prospect rankings, 15 in-season lineup tools, and over 200 days of expert DFS research. Sign Up Now!

 

David Price (SP, BOS)

David Price landing on the injured list seemed to come out of nowhere. He was off to a solid start this season, posting a 3.75 ERA and allowing three runs or fewer in each of his last four starts. Then Price was diagnosed with tendinitis in his pitching elbow. While it’s a new injury, he has had some concerning problems with this throwing arm in the last few years. In 2017, he had multiple lengthy absences due to an elbow strain and then elbow inflammation. Last season he was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome that led to numbness and tingling in his hand.

The Red Sox are hoping it’s a short absence and aren’t indicating there’s any concern that something more serious is causing the inflammation, but our algorithm is showing that his Injury Risk is very High at 43%. Even if it is just inflammation, this comes with a three week Optimal Recovery Time. If it’s something more serious going on that’s causing it, this could lead to him being out multiple months.

Engel’s Fantasy Spin

No one drafted Price as an ace anymore, those days are well behind us, but he was still being counted on as a Top 3 starter for many fantasy teams. Those types are usually not replaceable via the waiver wire unless you play in a 10-team league. If your starting pitching depth was solid to begin with, you may be able to ride this out, otherwise, you may have to deal some hitting to get some respectable replacement starting pitching. Be prepared to give up something to get something, though. Offering injured players or two for one type of deals usually makes the transaction goal more difficult.

 

Cody Bellinger (1B/OF, LAD)

Bellinger missed two games over the weekend after suffering a partially dislocated right (non-throwing) shoulder. Our algorithm is calling this a Grade 1 injury, so it comes with a short two week Optimal Recovery Time. It’s similar to an injury Bellinger suffered a few years ago, so he has been on a shoulder strengthening program ever since. That may have prevented a more serious injury, such as a complete dislocation that could cause extensive ligament or cartilage damage.

His Injury Risk did drop from Low to Elevated (18%), but his HPF (Health Performance Factor) didn’t drop to the Poor category. That means that his injury could affect him at the plate over the next week or so, but this shouldn't have a significant impact on his play long-term. Going forward the Dodgers plan to play him in the outfield instead of first base to protect his shoulder. There are fewer opportunities to dive, which places a lot of stress on the shoulder.

Engel’s Fantasy Spin

Bellinger’s owners may have been scared to see him dealing with a shoulder issue, but this report seems to be reassuring. You can keep Bellinger in your lineup with some peace of mind for now. But playing the outfield may not fully protect the shoulder if Bellinger chooses to dive for catches or crashes into the wall.

 

Steven Matz (SP, NYM)

Matz is no stranger to injuries, and his throwing arm has been through quite a lot throughout his career. Not only did he undergo Tommy John surgery years ago, but he dealt with a flexor strain in 2017, and his 2018 season ended with surgery to reposition a compressed nerve in his pitching elbow. Now he is sidelined with a nerve issue in his left forearm. The Mets don’t believe this is related to the season-ending surgery, but all of his elbow and forearm problems are made worse due to his concerning history. This injury has been bothering Matz for a few weeks, and they finally decided to shut him down so things can calm down.

The team is cautiously optimistic that this won’t be a long-term injury, but his injury history isn’t going away. Don’t be surprised if we don’t see him back in the rotation for at least a month. Matz was already High Risk at 47%, and now he is even worse at 59%. With a guy like Matz the question isn’t if he will get hurt, it’s when.

Engel’s Fantasy Spin

Matz was actually pitching much better than advertised, with only one truly bad start so far this season. But when you drafted Matz, you certainly knew the injury history and connected risks. So this latest unfortunate health issue should be no surprise and you were likely were prepared for it. You may also be able to replace him off the waiver wire or with a low-level deal. Matz has been a much more effective starter recently than many give him credit for, but unavailability will continue to be a consistent issue.

 

Khris Davis (OF, OAK)

Davis left Sunday’s game in the second inning after running into the wall while making a catch in foul territory. The A’s are calling his injury a left hip contusion, and he is considered day-to-day. While his HPF did drop to Below Average (52%), this injury comes with a short one week Optimal Recovery Time. His HPF should improve quickly, but if he plays in the next few days he will likely face stiffness and some pain in his hip as it continues to heal.

Engel’s Fantasy Spin

Davis could be in some danger of a short-term power outage and/or some days off . Do monitor Davis being possibly rested at all if you play with daily lineup moves. He did not play on Tuesday. Davis was originally in the lineup but was scratched, so we will have to await another update on his condition.

 

Jameson Taillon (SP, PIT)

The slumping Pirates got more bad news this week with the injury to Jameson Taillon. He’s dealing with a right elbow flexor strain and won’t throw for at least four weeks, so even if all goes well it could be two months before he is back in the rotation. The Inside Injuries algorithm is showing a six week Optimal Recovery Time, but that’s really just to be throwing at 100%. After such a long layoff he will need a rehab assignment, and it’s no guarantee that shutting things down for four weeks will solve his problem. His Injury Risk is very High (30%), and he could stay in that High Risk category for the rest of the season. Many players continue to have elbow problems or have a setback and suffer a related injury.

Engel’s Fantasy Spin

Taillon was drafted this year with a lot of hope that he could deliver a true breakthrough season in 2019. He entered this season looking like a potentially durable guy who could leap into another level of fantasy prominence. But his early numbers were disappointing and now you can write him off for a while altogether. This is an impactful loss for both the Pirates and fantasy owners. You will have to make a trade to effectively replace Taillon unless you compiled a roster that was top-heavy on starting pitching.

 

Juan Soto (OF, WAS)

The Nationals were hoping that a few days of rest would solve Soto’s back problems, but they were eventually forced to place him on the I.L. He’s eligible to return this weekend. While back spasms may sound like something that should go away quickly, there is sometimes an underlying cause of the spasms. This can lead to a multi-week absence, and it’s why his Optimal Recovery Time is two weeks. Back injuries are highly recurrent, so he comes with a 32% (High) Injury Risk.

Engel’s Fantasy Spin

It sounds positive that Soto could possibly return soon, but this report seems to indicate that cannot be assumed. The Nationals are reportedly optimistic about his potential to rejoin the lineup this weekend, but keep a close watch for potential setbacks, even when he returns. Soto is going to be an apparent risk for more than just a few days more.

 

Didi Gregorius (SS, NYY)

While Gregorius still comes with a High Injury Risk, his HPF has steadily improved over the last few months and just snuck into the Above Average (65%) category. The rehab process following Tommy John surgery is long and grueling, but Gregorius has hit his Optimal Recovery Time and could be a few weeks away from a rehab assignment. The best-case scenario for the Yankees is a return sometime in June, but they could play it safe and have him return just after the All-Star break. Eight to nine months is a realistic timeline for a field player recovering from this elbow surgery.

Engel’s Fantasy Spin

Keep Gregorius stashed if you can, as he could be a significant contributor for your fantasy team during the second half of the season. If you can swing a trade for him where you are not giving up too much, try to close the deal and reap the benefits down the line. Some owners may have the mentality that Gregorius is out of sight and mind, but you should be looking ahead to what can deliver when he finally returns.

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