Will Carroll's Under The Knife is called the "industry standard" by
Peter Gammons and that's good enough for us. Carroll's groundbreaking
work on injuries have led to it becoming a standard part of the
discussion in baseball. Whether you're a fantasy fan or checking out
how your team will be without a star, there's simply no other place to
get this kind of daily information.
Stephen Strasburg shows that Pitcher's Quality of Opponents is an overlooked metric.
Stephen Strasburg had eight strikeouts in his second start Sunday against the Indians, coming off a dominant 14-strikeout debut. David Wright had four strikeouts over the weekend, adding to his season total of 73 and putting him on pace for around 190 in 2010. Baseball is a game where everything balances—or every batter with a K beside his name on the scorecard, there's a pitcher that gets to add it to his stat line. I'm no stat guy, so I'm not going to go into what it means or the value, but I do want to address the perception of a strikeout. There's no question that Strasburg's dominant starts are in large part due to his ability to blow his pitches past hitters. It's to the Nationals right-hander's credit that he can do so. Read any media story about Strasburg and it's clear that he's being credited for striking players out. It's his skill that leads to the event. Read any story about Wright's strikeouts this season and the reverse is true. The Mets third baseman is being blamed for striking out. Both can't be true, can they? Is it the pitcher who strikes someone out or the hitter that strikes out? Is it more a positive event for a pitcher or a negative event for the hitter? Of course, the answer is both, but we seldom see this looked at from both angles. There were the occasional wags that griped that Strasburg's 14-K debut came against a weak Pirates lineup, but has anyone looked at the pitchers Wright has faced?
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The Dodgers will have to wait and see on Andre Ethier's broken pinkie, plus other MLB injury news.
Andre Ethier (broken pinkie, ERD TBD)
The Dodgers don't need an injury, let alone one to Ethier. Ethier injured the finger during batting practice, but it's unclear exactly where the break is. If it's distal (toward the fingertip) then it's less integral to the grip. If it's closer to the hand, it's tougher. As a lefty hitter, it's his bottom hand, so with each swing, it's going to be either pushed against the knob of the bat or have to edge over it and be even more exposed. It's going to be nearly impossible to splint the finger in a way that won't affect his swing. Then again, while we don't know exactly how the fracture occurred, it's reasonable to think that a padded glove might have prevented this. This week, I had the chance to ask a major-league athletic training coordinator if he thought that wearing a shin guard might help protect pitchers. His immediate answer was, "they wouldn't wear it." I understand that on one level—just look at the ridicule that David Wright and Francisco Cervelli have taken for wearing the best-available batting helmet. On the other hand, why is this about the player? A simple "protective gear" clause in a contract would be a pretty easy thing to do for a smart team. Ethier is going to wait a couple days and try to hit, seeing whether or not he can play with the pain and not make the fracture worse. Pain tolerance is a powerful force, so we'll have to wait for that test before knowing how long he's out. If he does go to the DL, it shouldn't be much over the minimum.
The situation concerning the Mets center fielder is getting confusing.
Carlos Beltran (arthritic knee, ERD 5/20)
The Beltran saga is getting confusing. Earlier today, MetsBlog.com's Matthew Cerrone and I had a conversation regarding the situation. I've been following it medically while Cerrone covers the Mets like white on rice. Instead of summarizing our discussion and the many points, we thought it was better just to bring it to you, so here it is, in slightly edited form:
The Mets will find out this week if the star outfielder can return any time soon.
Carlos Beltran (arthritic knee, ERD 5/20)
Carlos Beltran isn't running yet, but this article from Christian Red gives us a picture of his brace and brings us news that he's had a Synvisc injection. The picture is the most telling. It's an Ossur CTi OA brace. (Oddly, it's not a custom brace, though I'm sure it was professionally fitted.) The brace is designed to stabilize the knee, reducing the effects of the arthritic changes inside his knee. Combined with the Synvisc, the doctors are attacking the grinding and the causes of the grinding at the same time. It's not permanent and not corrective, but it gives him a chance to play. It appears that there's a hyperextension strap, though I can't be sure from that picture. Beltran is scheduled to run this week and his response to this is make or break, no pun intended. If his knee holds up, it's expected that Beltran's bat can remain productive. How they'll work him into the lineup remains to be seen. There's almost no chance that he'll be back in center field, but I'll leave it to the sharper knives on how the Mets could adjust. I'll remind everyone that if things go well, Beltran should be moved very quickly back to the Mets' lineup.
News on Andy Pettitte, Johnny Damon, and other injured major-league players.
Andy Pettitte (elbow stiffness, ERD TBD) When any pitcher is rushed for an MRI, the panic can start. Pettitte went almost directly from the mound to the machine, but there's actually a positive indicator when that happens. MRIs can be thrown off by inflammation, which is why it's often a couple days before an MRI can be taken after a trauma. Getting someone in quick has to be really quick, before the inflammation really gets going, or it tells us that there's really not that much inflammation at all. Since the Yankees usually do their medical work at the Hospital for Special Surgery, which is thirteen minutes away (more or less), it could be either. Pettitte's elbow issue is not near the flexor tendon, where he had previous problems, but instead seems to be in the "back" of the arm, near the triceps and could indicate some UCL issue. Joe Girardi indicated that Pettitte had some forearm issues earlier this season, so this could be some sort of cascade or a mechanical issue that's translating toward whatever the weakest point of the arm is at any moment. There's almost no chance that Pettitte will be ready to go as scheduled next Tuesday, but the Yankees will wait until then to make any decision on the DL. Information right now would lean toward a DL move, precautionary if nothing else, but we'll get more information by the weekend when we see whether Pettitte is able to do any side work.
Hurts strike down two of the Yankees' "Core Four" in Posada and Rivera, along with other medical news from the majors.
Jorge Posada (strained calf, ERD TBD) If you read what I told you about—or actually, passed on from Ben Wolf—on Friday, then the calf strain for Jorge Posada shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Posada's injury to the back of his right knee was in a bad spot and this kind of cascade is very predictable. The bigger cascade worry would be a knee injury, but a calf strain would be a close second. Wolf's insight doesn't help the Yankees, who now have to go with Francisco Cervelli in the meantime while hoping that Posada can heal up. The Yankees are anticipating that Posada will be ready by the end of the week, but a Grade I strain might not heal up enough for catching. They'll wait until the end of the week to make a decision on the DL, since they'll get the off-day on Thursday, but I get the sense that they don't want to go into the Boston series short-handed.
Top teams lose top talents in the AL, B-Rob's bad break in Bal'mer, and a double dip of Hawk citations in today's injury roundup.
Joe Mauer (heel bruise, TBD)
The term "stone bruise" is kind of archaic and not really that helpful, but it's accurate when it comes to describing what has happened to Mauer. He injured his heel on a play at first base: he was 'stretching' on a close play and hit heel-first, hard. With the type of cleats he wears, it seems that he hit something or hit it in just the wrong way, pushing into his heel. It's a simple bruise, but because of the location and nature of it, there's not much besides rest than can cure it. At first, it appeared to be one of those annoying things that a player can play through, missing a couple days, but by Sunday, it was clear that this was not only more serious, but seems to be headed toward a more extended absence. Ron Gardenhire's "week to week" comment brought out the worst-case scenario, but quotes from Mauer don't seem nearly as dire. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if the Twins decided to DL Mauer as a precaution, keeping him out the minimum to make sure that the situation is rectified. There's no reports that Mauer isn't weight-bearing, so the idea that this would extend beyond a week is a bit surprising. We'll have to keep a close eye on this, but there's no sign that this is going to be anything more than a short-term issue.
Closers, middle infielders, and rotation horses with various flavors of bad news, plus a catcher's quick comeback.
Brian Roberts (disc problem in back, ERD 4/15)
Knowing usually helps. With Roberts, the O's know, but they're no better off. Roberts continues to have problems with a disc in his back. Initial treatment offered little relief, pushing the team to send Roberts back to Baltimore. Team doctors decided at that point to give Roberts an epidural injection. While many think about childbirth when hearing the term, this is different. The full term is epidural steroid injection, but you can imagine why many try to avoid that term. This is corticosteroids, so just stop. This is a very involved procedure, as this excellent video shows. Note here that the injection is to give pain relief. It does nothing to correct the underlying problem. By breaking the pain-spasm cycle1; the hope is that the other things the medical staff is doing, like stretching and modalities, will take effect. The effects of the injection last about a week, so look to see what's going on with Roberts early this week for an indication of whether he'll get a chance to start the season on the field rather than the DL. Right now, that looks unlikely. With the depth issues behind Roberts and in their lineup, the Orioles need this one to clear up as quickly as is safe.