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The Fantasy Injury Exam Room - Noah Syndergaard, J.T. Realmuto 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!

Noah Syndergaard (SP, NYM)

Syndergaard left his start on Saturday in the seventh inning after injuring his hamstring. He was placed on the injured list with a strain, so this is more than just some mild tightness. The good news here is that our algorithm is considering this a grade 1 injury, indicating a mild strain. The Optimal Recovery Time is two weeks, so he shouldn’t miss more than 2-3 turns in the rotation. Syndergaard was walking without a limp on Monday and was scheduled to go through some agility drills and play catch. While it’s a little early to be doing those things, if he can make it through without any pain he should be ready to return some time next week.

Engel’s Fantasy Analysis

This is another marker of frustration in what has been an overall season of disappointment for Syndergaard’s Fantasy owners so far, There were some signs of hope with ERAs below four in May and June, but his last start against St. Louis was shaky. Injuries continually seem to haunt him as well. But he still has a wealth of talent to turn it around when he returns, so consider buying on Syndergaard now if you need starting pitching help.

 

Justin Upton (OF, LAA)

Upton looked great in his season debut on Monday night, going 2-4 with a home run. Upton has been sidelined all season due to a serious case of turf toe that came on the heels of knee tendinitis that kept him out most of spring training. Now finally healthy, he should be a big contributor for the Angels.

Our algorithm is still showing that Upton is a High Injury Risk (48%) as turf toe is an easily aggravated injury and he has a concerning list of injuries in recent years. But the good news is that his HPF (Health Performance Factor) is back in the Above Average category (67%). So, we expect him to play well as long as he can stay on the field. There’s still room to improve, but Upton will hopefully avoid the slow start that many players experience when they miss so much time.

Engel’s Fantasy Analysis

Upton’s price is friendly in DFS right now, so lock him in while he has some good matchups. If you have waited patiently for his return, keep an insurance plan in place as Inside Injuries has frequently noted he does have a history of health concerns. Enjoy the production while he is available, as we all know the power production we can get in bunches from Upton. When he is hot, he can really boost your team for significant stretches. That;s why you deal with the injuries and cold spells.  

 

Aaron Judge (OF, NYY)

Just 20 games into the season Judge suffered one of the worst (and most common) injuries for a power hitter - an oblique strain. Now almost two months removed from the injury he has been cleared for a rehab assignment and could return to the Yankees later this week. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Judge was a High Injury Risk to start the season, and he could stay in that category for the remainder of the year. Judge’s injury numbers are improving, but his Injury Risk still sits at 49%, which is incredibly high. His HPF is now at 65%, so he just barely sneaks into the Above Average category.

Judge has a concerning injury history that includes another oblique strain, a PCL sprain in his left knee, surgery on his left shoulder and a chip fracture in his wrist. In addition to all of those injury concerns, Judge also produces a lot of torque with his upper body when he swings the bat, putting him at risk of suffering injuries to things such as the back and oblique. Even though he has hit the Optimal Recovery Time for this oblique strain and should be ready to return, he will continue to be someone to watch throughout the season. Expect him to play well and get his power back within a few weeks, but he is likely to suffer another injury or aggravate the oblique at some point later in the season.

Engel’s Fantasy Analysis

You may have waited awhile for Judge to return and are close to getting your reward, but this scouting report on his health should make you concerned going forward as well. You should consider trading Judge either while he approaches his return or while he remains available. There is legitimate concern you could lose him again this season and you should try to replace another potential hole in your lineup while you can.

Kyle Hendricks (SP, CHC)

Hendricks struggled in his last outing on Friday, and on Saturday the Cubs placed him on the injured list with shoulder inflammation. This can mean a lot of things. The best case scenario is just some soreness and inflammation with no underlying cause. If that’s what’s going on then this comes with a three week Optimal Recovery Time. He needs to rest but this shouldn't be a lingering issue if he addresses it now.

The concern here is that the initial “inflammation” diagnosis is often an indication that something more serious is going on. If the Cubs have any concerns about structural damage in Hendricks’ shoulder they will send him for an MRI, but so far there haven’t been any reports that he went for a scan. Inside Injuries is currently considering this a grade 1 injury. His Injury Risk went from 2% (Low) to 16% (Elevated), and his HPF is now Below Average (49%). Both of these numbers will improve as he approaches that three-week mark, but the HPF should see a significant increase over the next few weeks as long as a more serious shoulder problem isn’t reported. As long as the Cubs are patient with Hendricks this shouldn’t turn into a long-term problem.

UPDATE: Hendricks has been diagnosed with a shoulder impingement and the Cubs say there is no timetable for his return.

Engel’s Fantasy Analysis

Published reports indicate that Hendricks is unlikely to return before the All-Star break as the team plans to take it slowly with him. You might see Hendricks again in a few weeks as originally indicated by Inside Injuries above, but the Cubs will take their time and you will need to either stream starters or make a mid-level trade to replace Hendricks in the interim.

 

Scooter Gennett (2B, CIN)

Gennett has been sidelined all season due to a serious groin injury suffered in spring training. He has been playing in simulated games and was cleared to begin a rehab assignment this week. According to our algorithm he is right on track as he just reached his Optimal Recovery Time. His HPF also improved to Above Average (68%), so we expect him to perform fairly well when he does rejoin the Reds lineup.

The bad news here is that his Injury Risk is still 52%, which is incredibly High. It’s so easy to aggravate a groin strain, so even though he should be healthy enough to return following a rehab assignment, it wouldn’t take much to suffer a setback. That could mean re-injuring his groin or suffering a new compensatory injury.

Engel’s Fantasy Analysis

The Reds are being cautious with Gennett, as they held him out of a scheduled rehab game on Tuesday due to the field being wet. So the scouting report above indicates he indeed will remain a risk when he returns. Derek Dietrich has performed very well as a power hitter while Gennett was out and could see his playing time reduced when Gennett returns, but if another injury arises, Dietrich has to remain in the second base picture. Cincinnati should still find ways to get Dietrich in the lineup, but it may be just two to three times per week.

 

Byron Buxton (OF, MIN)

Buxton was just placed on the I.L. with a wrist contusion. He had not played since getting hit by a pitch on Friday night. While this injury comes with a short one week Optimal Recovery Time, his Injury Risk right now is very high (49%). Playing through wrist pain can lead to a more severe injury like a sprain because swinging the bat is uncomfortable. By shutting things down for 10 days he should avoid something more serious, and his Injury Risk will see a huge drop when he is eligible to return. Buxton was already taking some swings in the cage on Monday, so this should be a short absence.

Engel’s Fantasy Analysis

There appears to be no major cause for concern here. In weekly leagues, you will just have to plug the OF hole in your lineup for a week. You can easily go to the waiver wire for a one-week type reinforcement. Eric Thames and Jason Kipnis are both four percent owned in Yahoo leagues and may fit the bill for you.

 

J.T. Realmuto (C, PHI)

Realmuto missed a third straight game on Tuesday to rest a groin issue that has been bothering him recently. Groin injuries are tough for any player to recover from, but they are especially tough on catchers. A mild strain comes with a three week Optimal Recovery Time, so they really should place him on I.L. and give him a few extra days to recover if this is anything more than a little tightness or soreness. By returning at any point in the next week he is putting himself at a very high risk of aggravating the injury, leading to a lengthy absence. Right now his Injury Risk is HIgh (29%).

Engel’s Fantasy Analysis

The Phillies seem to be positioning this one as a day-to-day concern, but a smart Fantasy owner will prepare to replace Realmuto, which certainly will not be easy. You may have to swing a lower level deal for a catcher to get insurance in a two-catcher format. Do check the waiver wire for Jorge Alfaro in one-catcher leagues, as he is just 36 percent owned. Travis d’Arnaud is just two percent owned and has shown some signs of life since landing with Tampa Bay. Tom Murphy of Seattle is under-owned at two percent as he has displayed pretty good pop.

 

Hunter Pence (OF, TEX)

Pence suffered a groin strain on Sunday while chasing down a ball in the outfield, and the Rangers quickly placed him on I.L. It’s unclear how severe the strain is, but our algorithm is showing that he needs a minimum of two weeks to recover. We have talked a few times about how tough it is to recover from groin strains, and for a 36 year-old it’s an especially slow recovery. His Injury Risk jumped to 58%, and his HPF is just 42% (right on the edge of Below Average and Poor). Don’t be surprised if Pence is out through the All Star break, and possibly even longer if this is more serious than a grade 1 strain.

Engel’s Fantasy Analysis

Pence has been an inspiring comeback candidate this year, and the Rangers are publicly indicating his surprising season could continue as soon as he is eligible to come off the I.L. The Inside Injuries scouting report is obviously not reflecting the same outlook and should be taken more seriously. You will have to replace Pence from the waiver wire and prepare to possibly be without him for a few weeks.

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