Fantasy baseball injury report: third time the charm for Strasburg?

Washington Nationals' Stephen Strasburg throws a pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, July 23, 2017, in Phoenix.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

David Price

Boston’s veteran pitcher is back on the disabled list with an elbow problem. Price, who missed the start of the season with a similar issue, has been diagnosed with left elbow inflammation. The real concern is what exactly is causing the inflammation. In the spring, Price admitted that surgery would be a likely option if he were younger. If that’s the case, an ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injury seems likely. Unfortunately, this scenario was always a possibility for Price, and now fantasy owners likely will be forced to play out the remainder of the season without him. His value in one-year leagues is drastically diminished, while his potential treatment options will determine his keeper league price.

Stephen Strasburg

It’s déjà vu for Strasburg. The Nationals right-hander has hit the DL for the third straight season and the eighth time of his career after being diagnosed with a nerve impingement in his throwing elbow. On the plus side, Strasburg’s surgically repaired UCL appears intact. However, as mentioned with Price, the root of the problem remains a concern. For pitchers, elbow nerve impingement most often occurs when the ulnar nerve becomes pinched or compressed. Scar tissue or fluid, both common occurrences in those who’ve had Tommy John, can cause the entrapment. If the cause of the impingement can be treated easily with modalities or therapy then Strasburg should be in line for a quick return. However, surgery could be necessary if a bone spur or significant scar tissue is the culprit.

The Nationals seem confident that surgical intervention won’t be needed and continue to proceed like the issue is minor. Manager Dusty Baker maintains the injury will only cost his pitcher one start. Strasburg has done his best to back up his manager’s claims, completing a bullpen session over the weekend. He will be monitored over the next few days to see how the joint responds to the increased activity. If symptoms fail to resurface, look for Strasburg to return when first eligible. Regardless of the outcome, Strasburg’s injury risk for the remainder of the season will be further elevated.

Chris Owings

The Diamondbacks will be without Owings for a while due to a broken finger. The 25-year-old infielder fractured the middle finger on his right hand while attempting a bunt. He’s currently without a timeline though several factors will influence his recovery. To begin, the location of the fracture is key. Not including the thumb, the fingers of the hand comprise three individual bones. A fracture to the distal phalanx or tip of the finger would be the most favorable location. Unfortunately, when examining video of the incident, it appears the ball strikes Owings in the intermediate or proximal phalanx. Furthermore, surgery could be necessary if the fracture piece has been displaced. If Owings does need to visit the operating room, he could miss at least four weeks.

Owings has returned to Arizona to visit with a hand specialist, and an update should be provided in the next few days. For now, fantasy owners should expect Owings to miss at least two weeks. Brandon Drury and Daniel Descalso should each see a bump in usage.

Check Swings

Zack Cozart: The All-Star shortstop aggravated a nagging quadriceps injury early last week and was ultimately placed on the DL after the problem failed to improve. Cozart first went on the DL in late June with a strained right quad and has been unable to shake lingering soreness in the area. The quadriceps muscle group, like most of the muscles of the lower extremity, needs ample time to heal and can be easily irritated if the injured individual returns to action prematurely. Often re-injury or aggravations force the athlete back to square one of his individualized rehab protocol. Look for Cozart to miss a few weeks recovering. Jose Peraza will continue to play shortstop for the Red with Cozart sidelined.

Ian Desmond: The Rockies outfielder is managing a problem similar to Cozart’s, though his chronic strain involves his calf. Desmond is now on the DL for the second time this month after aggravating the previous strain. The injury will allow Gerardo Parra to take over in left field and could open the door for David Dahl to return to the active roster.

Clayton Kershaw: The Fantasy top-rated pitcher has played catch for three consecutive days now and is making progress in his rehab for a lower back strain. He remains several weeks away from joining the Dodgers rotation, and the team’s impressive performance simply buys him more time. The fact that the injury is not disc-related is another positive, and fantasy owners should still get multiple starts out of the three-time Cy Young winner. Continue to exhibit patience here.

Robbie Ray: The Arizona pitcher suffered a scary injury Friday when a 108-mph line drive stuck him in the head. The incident left Ray with a concussion and laceration that required three staples to close. Fortunately, CT scans taken on his head showed no signs of a skull fracture or internal bleeding in the cranium. He has been placed on the seven-day concussion DL though his overall condition does appear to be improving. However, Ray must still complete MLB’s concussion protocol before he can return to play, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see this stretch beyond the allotted week. The Diamondbacks have adjusted the rotation accordingly with Zack Greinke now slated to face the Cubs in Wrigley on Thursday.

Troy Tulowitzki: The Blue Jays shortstop has suffered a right ankle sprain and was placed on the 10-day DL. While some reports have referred to the injury as “ligament damage,” the information is a bit redundant since the term sprain indicates a ligamentous injury. However, this could mean the damage is more moderate or severe. He’s slated to meet with a foot and ankle specialist soon to determine the best course of treatment. A timeline hasn’t been released, though the injury and his declining production make him waiver wire material in most fantasy formats.

Jeff Stotts works as a Certified Athletic Trainer (MAT, ATC, PES, CES). He won the 2011 Best Fantasy Football Article in Print from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association. Follow Jeff on Twitter: @InStreetClothes.

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