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The Fantasy Injury Exam Room - Trevor Story, Mike Clevinger and More


In our continuing 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, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!

Trevor Story (SS, COL)

Story landed on the IL last week with a right thumb sprain and was initially expected to miss multiple weeks. The good news here is that scans confirmed no structural damage and nothing that will require surgery. Still, our algorithm is showing a three week Optimal Recovery Time. Five days after getting hurt Story said his thumb is improving and he hopes to return soon after the 10 days are up. This would be way too quick. His Injury Risk remains High (33%), and he has a Poor HPF (32%). Thumb sprains are very easily aggravated and can turn into a ligament tear when a player returns too quickly. It also leads to ineffectiveness at the plate and a lack of power. It’s not an injury that you should return from before it is fully healed, and there’s no way Story is close to being 100% right now. 

Engel’s Fantasy Analysis

Just because Story is optimistic about his return doesn’t mean you should believe that he will be back when he hits the 10-day mark. What a player wants to happen and what the reality is are frequently two different things. The Inside Injuries timeline is more realistic. You could be without Story for three weeks or so. To plug the hole in the interim, you could consider Freddy Galvis, who is 18 percent owned in Yahoo leagues. J.P, Crawford is hitting .333 with 11 RBI in June and is only five percent owned. 

 

Ian Desmond (1B/OF, COL)

Desmond has missed the last two games with a “lower half issue,” but manager Bud Black won’t reveal any more information about a specific injury. He doesn’t have any recent injury concerns that provide an indication of what this could be, but in 2017 he did miss time with multiple strains to his right calf. It’s possible this is a recurring injury that he is battling again. 

Desmond played in at least 154 games in five of the last six seasons, including 160 games in 2018. He has played 70 games so far this season with no real injuries to speak of. If this is a lower body muscular strain Desmond needs to miss two weeks, but until we know more it’s tough to speculate.

Engel’s Fantasy Analysis

Desmond was back in the Colorado lineup on Tuesday night, so that was a relieving piece of Fantasy news for his owners. He is hitting .359 with four home runs and 18 RBI this month. If his level of play starts to take a downturn, it could be a sign of a persistent issue. Keep a watch on Desmond’s condition and be prepared with some replacement lineup insurance if needed. 

 

Mike Clevinger (SP, CLE)

The Indians are placing Clevinger back on the IL, this time with an ankle sprain. Clevinger suffered an upper back strain in early April that forced him to miss over two months. He returned to make one start on June 17 but injured his ankle when he tumbled off of the mound. Clevinger remained in the game and lasted until the fifth inning but was left swollen and discolored due to a sprain. Now he is set to miss at least 10 days, but the Indians are optimistic that he can return after missing just one turn in the rotation.

Inside Injuries is showing a Healthy to Return Date around July 5, two weeks from the initial injury. That means he should be able to get in one start before the All-Star break. Unfortunately, his Injury Risk is back in the Elevated category at 15%. It’s not horrible, but he needs to get his body right so he can pitch effectively. 

Engel’s Fantasy Analysis

Terry Francona told reporters that he is expecting Clevinger to make his next start on Friday against the Orioles in Baltimore. Based on the scouting report above, Clevinger appears to be returning early, possibly before he is ideally ready. The Indians staff may keep a close watch on Clevinger against the Orioles and he will be a risky starting option despite a perceived weaker opponent. 

Mike Soroka (SP, ATL)

After getting hit by a pitch on his right forearm, Mike Soroka left his start early on Sunday. The Braves said it was a precautionary move as Soroka has been one of their best young pitchers, and X-rays confirmed that there’s no fracture or structural damage. Soroka was admittedly sore in the days after getting hit.

Inside Injuries algorithm has classified this as a soft tissue injury, which is as mild as it gets. It comes with a 7 day Optimal Recovery Time. Soroka will need to keep his arm loose and make sure the forearm muscles don’t tighten up on him at any point during his next outing as there will still be some swelling going on, which can lead to stiffness and soreness. 

Engel’s Fantasy Analysis

According to published reports, Soroka had some lingering tightness while playing catch on Tuesday and will now miss his next scheduled start on the weekend. He is expected to throw off a mound on Wednesday before the Braves make a further determination on his status. Keep monitoring the RotoBaller MLB Player News feed for information on Soroka. Start perusing your free agent list in the meantime, just in case you may need a fill-in starter. 

 

Jose Berrios (SP, MIN)

Berrios left his start over the weekend due to a blister on his right ring finger. He was scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday. He is on track tol make his next scheduled start on time. 

Now here’s the thing with blisters. They sound pretty minor and most people assume they will heal quickly, but some players are more susceptible to blisters than others. That could be due to how they hold the ball to deliver certain pitches or how sensitive their skin is in various temperatures or conditions. Sure, Berrios can try to pitch five days after developing a blister, but that area on his finger will continue to be sensitive and he will certainly be at a higher risk of suffering another blister going forward. 

The Twins shouldn’t send him out there if there is still any sign of a blister on his finger. The tricky part of recovery for a pitcher is that they can’t wear anything on their hand to protect the blister in an official game. He can cover it during training to make sure his arm stays ready, but in a game, there’s no good option. 

Engel’s Fantasy Analysis

For now, it seems Berrios should be able to start Friday against the White Sox. In any other format other than DFS, you have to keep him active if he takes the mound. But you obviously be concerned that he could leave the game at any time if issues persist. All you can do is start him and hope for the best. At worst, you may get a shortened outing, but not one where he gets hit hard. 

 

John Means (SP/RP, BAL)

The Orioles were forced to place Means on the IL last week due to a left shoulder strain. Means has no history of arm problems throughout his professional career, and this one doesn’t appear to be too serious. He wasn’t even sent for an MRI and described it as tightness.

Even if that’s all this is, Inside Injuries is showing a three week Optimal Recovery Time. Means is already making progress as he threw on Sunday and was scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Monday, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to throw at 100% in a game. It’s important for the Orioles to slowly bring him back so they don’t risk a more serious injury to one of the few bright spots on their struggling team. Tightness can quickly turn into a more serious strain if it isn’t treated properly.

Engel’s Fantasy Analysis

Published reports indicate that Means could be ready to return as soon as this weekend. That may not turn out to be the case, as Baltimore has no reason to rush him back before he is truly ready. If he does actually make a start this upcoming weekend, he could be a risk according to the above scouting report. 

 

Tyler Glasnow (SP, TB)

Glasnow has been sidelined for over a month with a forearm strain, but he experienced a setback and will now be shut down from throwing for three more weeks. Glasnow was progressing and reached a point where he was close to facing live hitters, but as he was throwing over the weekend he experienced pain in his forearm. Glasnow was sent for an MRI, which showed right flexor inflammation. It’s a similar problem to his initial arm injury. Once a pitcher starts to have arm issues they tend to compound and lead to other injuries. 

Now Glasnow is facing a new six-week Optimal Recovery Time, according to our algorithm. So even if everything goes well this time and he avoids another setback, we shouldn’t see him until early to mid-August. This could be turning into a lost season for Glasnow, whose Injury Risk remains very High.

Engel’s Fantasy Analysis

If your league does not have an IL spot, you may be trying to decide if you should keep Glasnow or not. In a 10-team league, you will just have to let him go, as bench space is limited and there is a better free agent list to lift from than in other leagues. In a league of 12 teams or more, you may want to consider keeping him for the stretch run if you can afford to let him occupy the bench spot. 

 

Caleb Smith (SP, MIA)

It’s been almost three weeks since Smith landed on the IL with left hip inflammation. He didn’t look good in his three previous starts, and this could explain why. Smith spent the first 10 days resting to allow the inflammation to calm down and has since been cleared for a rehab assignment. He looked sharp on Monday, throwing 71 pitches over 4 ⅓ innings. The Marlins could have him back in the rotation by the weekend. Smith also says he didn’t feel the hip injury at all during his start, which makes sense. Inside Injuries initially gave him a two week Optimal Recovery Time, so he is right on track. While his Injury Risk remains HIgh (27%), his numbers are improving quickly and his Health Performance Factor is back in the Above Average category (68%). Smith may be a little rusty in his first start back but he should return to form very quickly.

Engel’s Fantasy Analysis

Smith had 11 strikeouts in his Monday rehab start, indicating he is ready to return to his pre-injury form. If he does not return to the Majors this weekend, he should after one more minor league start as Miami may be looking to carefully monitor him for workload purposes. Ultimately, though, you can look forward to Smith rejoining your Fantasy pitching staff very soon. 

More 2019 Fantasy Baseball Advice