With Eric Hosmer in the bigs, who will be the next of the Royals' stash of young prospects to make a fantasy impact?
Eric Hosmer is in the major leagues, and earlier than expected. He is just the first of many prospects who may become Royals in 2011; what kind of fantasy impact is the rest of the bunch likely to have this year?
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Justin Verlander's no-no may mean hard times ahead, Nelson Cruz has more leg problems, Marco Scutaro tries not to get Pipped, and a pair of pitchers get disabled.
Justin Verlander, DET (No injury)
Average fastball speed by inning: 98, 99, 99, 96, 95, 94, 93, and 95 mph. Those velocities are completely normal for a power pitcher as the game goes along. In the first few innings, the pitcher starts off throwing gas, and then he loses a little in each successive frame (with maybe a small blip later on as he fights to stay in the game). But those values are not from a normal pitcher. Those are from Justin Verlander's no-hitter on May 7, and they are listed in reverse order.
It has been documented before that there is a velocity jump toward the end of no-hitters. History is at stake, and the crowd is hanging on every pitch. The pitcher is alone on the end of the bench in between innings, and endorphins are flowing and keeping the pitcher amped up. These same endorphins play a part in the fight-or-flight response in humans, leading to benefits–such as tunnel vision and releasing of energy stores to combat fatigue and allow stronger-than-normal muscular contractions–while also making pain less noticeable.
Eric Chavez and Nyjer Morgan can't bear to be off the DL, Brandon Lyon gets cuffed around, and a trio of pitchers face elbow injuries.
Brandon Lyon, HOU (Partially torn right rotator cuff)
As an overpaid closer signed by reliever fetishist Ed Wade, Lyon has been the butt of many jokes, but this year's 7.15 ERA and five strikeouts in 11-plus innings are legitimately bad. He has been almost unbearable to watch throughout the early season, but at least now there is some sort of excuse for his ineffectiveness. After being evaluated by Dr. David Litner, Lyon's balky right shoulder turned out to be due to a partially torn rotator cuff. Unsurprisingly, he was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Initial impressions are hard to shake, and the same goes with Lyon and his recent shoulder problems. Even though Lyon's difficulties appear to have come out of the blue, there were signs back in spring training of 2010 that something was going on. Last spring a cyst was drained from his shoulder. Cysts around the labrum, rotator cuff, or acromioclavicular joint usually arise from chronic friction in the form of instability or rotator cuff insufficiency. Even though an issue was already present a year ago, he ended up making it through 2010 without any further injuries, but the underlying problem (or problems) waited in the weeds until rearing its ugly head, forcing Lyon to the disabled list this week.
Welcome Eric Hosmer to the bigs, say no to a certain National, and multiple ways to replace your gimpy third baseman
The top five players added this week are all ones we haven't seen in this space before, and they combine for a diverse set of skills. The most-dropped players are once again an obvious set: Matt Harrison, who (predictably) stinks again, tops the list, and he is followed by players such as David Freese (surgery), Travis Wood (bumped from a job), and Chris Narveson (gravity). You can make the case for keeping Narveson in NL-only leagues due to his strikeouts, but otherwise, let him walk.
Mike Aviles, Kansas City Royals (75 percent owned, +32 percent)
Aviles has third base eligibility and has hit well as of late—with the bottom falling out of the third base market due to injuries in the past week-plus, it's no wonder he has seen a significant uptick in ownership.
Ben Zobrist, Justin Smoak, and Curtis Granderson all look to have retained their luster in 2011. Can you trust that this AL threesome isn't fool's gold?
Even knowing what we do about small samples, it's often all too tempting to hope that a player who has seen ups and downs in his career is back for real based on a good April. With that caveat, today we will look at a few cases of players who struggled in 2010—either due to injuries, bad luck, or just general ineffectiveness—who have started out hitting well in 2011, in order to see if what they are doing is realistically sustainable.
Ryan Zimmerman starts healing, Phil Hughes goes back to the drawing board, Zach Braddock can't get to sleep, and David Freese becomes a metal man.
Athletes don't offer information about injuries to anyone, even their teams' medical staffs, unless they believe that their aches and pains are affecting their performance. Responsible medical staffs warn their young charges to inform them about any problems and not try to play through injuries, as they could easily damage themselves further and be forced to endure significantly longer recovery times.
Some athletes listen and start offering more information in hopes of avoiding significant downtime, but there are always others who try to push through the pain and end up in the clinic discussing surgical procedures with the doctors. Often the athletes who end up talking with the surgeons (reluctantly) do so not because their bodies are hurting, but because they have lost a few ticks on their fastball or slowed to 4.4 to first instead of 4.3. Unfortunately, this habit isn't automatically broken once a player turns 18.
Three Triple-A first basemen with struggling major-league counterparts may be worth a look sooner than later.
The first month of the season is over, bringing us one month closer to prospects starting to earn summer promotions to the majors. Where the players these prospects would replace are already struggling, it's even more likely that fresh blood will soon be available for your fantasy team. Here are three first basemen who may end up reaching the majors during 2011—though some may be more successful than others.
Pablo Sandoval and David Freese suffer fractures, Ryan Zimmerman's return isn't close, and Carlos Lee hopes his bruised baby back ribs ribs aren't broken.
It was a bad weekend to be a third baseman in the National League. It was also a bad time to be Carlos Lee, but then again, that has been the case for much of the last two seasons.
Pablo Sandoval, SFN (Right wrist surgery—hamate)
A hitter's wrist is his lifeline, so whenever it requires surgery, there is a lot of understandable concern. Hamate fractures account for somewhere between two and five percent of all wrist fractures, and are more common in baseball and racquet sports. (Are you picturing Sandoval wearing Wimbledon whites? Mission accomplished, then.)
Madson has struck out 9.9 batters per nine with a 4.1 K/BB ratio since 2009 (140 1/3 innings pitched), has a 2.95 Run Average in that stretch, and has even finished 52 games without the world ending, so instead of asking yourself if you should acquire him until Lidge comes back, you should be asking why Charlie Manuel waited this long to give him the gig in the first place. Based on the way he uses relievers—did I mention Danys Baez is involved?—it's probably not because he prefers Madson in a relief ace role.
Phil Hughes faces the prospect of season-ending surgery, Marc DeRosa's wrist acts up again, Casey Blake's elbow is infected, and Darren O'Day finds that it's hip to have tears.
Phil Hughes, NYA (Thoracic Outlet Syndrome) As briefly discussed here, the Yankees finally put a name to the weakness and dead arm feeling that has limited Hughes so far this year. After almost eight hours of testing over two days, the medical staff believes that Hughes may be suffering from a condition called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) rather than simple fatigue or weakness.
TOS is a clinical diagnosis drawing upon the entire spectrum of symptoms, rather than radiographs alone. It offers no “Oh, he has [condition] as evidenced by the X-ray, therefore he will have TOS” moment—if only it were that simple.
Erick Almonte becomes a 7-day DL pioneer, Albert Pujols hamstrings it up, and Phil Hughes' arm still hasn't come back to life.
Erick Almonte, MIL (Concussion) Almonte may never end up in the Hall of Fame, but he will go into the record books as the first major leaguer placed on the 7-day disabled list for a concussion. Normally we see concussions occurring during game conditions, but Almonte suffered his after a ball thrown in batting practice hit him in the forehead.
During our special on concussions, we discussed how the 7-day disabled list functions more as a roster insurance tool for teams than a way to ensure that players return safely, although it does make it easier for clubs to do the right thing. Return-to-play guidelines have been in effect for some time now, so the creation of a shorter DL stint merely gives team a littles extra flexibility in dealing with those pesky injuries that fall between "day-to-day" and "15-day."
The Curse of the Phillies Closer strikes again, Neftali has reason not to be Feliz, and Franklin Gutierrez is diagnosed as irritable.
Jared Burton, CIN (Right shoulder debridement surgery)
Debridement is a term that we hear at times when the word surgery pops up–usually in the upper extremities–but what does it entail? We have a general idea that it involves going in arthroscopically and cleaning up an area, but anyone with children–or in our case, past sloppy roommates–can attest, there are differing interpretations of what "cleaning up" actually means.
By definition, debridement is the act of removing dead, contaminated, adherent tissue or foreign material. This can include anything from battlefield shrapnel to the tiny pebbles in road rash. In baseball, debridement happens with everyday cuts and scrapes, but the ones that make the news involve surgeries that most often occur at the same time as other procedures (such as rotator cuff repair or labrum repairs in the hip).