Fantasy baseball injury report: Cubs without Arrieta

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta (49) is accompanied off the field by a trainer in the third inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, Monday, Sept. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Jake Arrieta

The Cubs really could use their veteran right-hander, but a lingering hamstring injury is making that difficult. Arrieta initially was injured during his September 4 start and had hoped to miss only one start. However, it looks like he will sit for at least one more trip through the rotation. While the injury is a low-grade strain, even a slight deficiency in the hamstring muscle group can cause major issues with a pitcher’s delivery. The three muscles that make up the hamstring sit on the posterior aspect of the upper leg and are responsible for bending the knee (knee flexion) and pulling the hip backward (hip extension). Pitchers rely on their hamstrings to stabilize their lower bodies, and generate and transfer forward force and momentum. If limited, the injured individual can have issues during the late cocking, acceleration and follow-through phases of throwing. As a result, pitchers with hamstring strains may see a drop in velocity and have difficulty completing a pitch with their normal mechanics. An alteration in delivery opens the door to a secondary injury, including shoulder and elbow concerns.

Chicago knows the associated risk as evident by their progressive yet fluid approach to Arrieta’s recovery. He played catch and completed limited agility work over the weekend but remains without a definitive timetable. There is a chance he could be activated prior to their weekend series with the Cardinals but this is far from a guarantee. Keep him on the bench in weekly leagues for now.

Jimmy Nelson

The Brewers young ace will miss the rest of the season after injuring his shoulder while diving back to first base. The jarring motion left Nelson with a strained right rotator cuff and a partial tear in the front of his labrum.

The labrum is a fibrocartilaginous ring that stabilizes the glenohumeral joint, the ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder. The labrum can be torn in a variety of ways, usually after the shoulder is hit with a sizeable force that shifts the head of the upper arm bone, the humerus. Labral tears can be very painful and lead to chronic instability in the shoulder. Treatment for a labrum injury depends on the pattern of tearing and the degree of instability. It’s possible to make a full recovery with conservative treatment, but surgery remains an option.

The Brewers will spend the next few weeks consulting specialists and monitoring the injury before deciding on a final treatment plan. Fortunately, the success rate for a partial tear of the anterior labrum is high, and Nelson should be fine if a trip to the operating room is required. If surgery is necessary, Nelson’s recovery could carry over into the 2018 season effecting his value in keeper leagues.

Check Swings

Dexter Fowler: An MRI on the St. Louis outfielder’s knee showed no structural damage to the joint. The team is calling the injury a left knee contusion and plan to hold him out for the immediate future. A DL stint seems unlikely with expanded rosters supplying the Cardinals with a few more available options.

Billy Hamilton: The Reds speedster has been placed on the 10-day DL after breaking his left thumb. It appears he will avoid surgery, but it seems more than likely he will miss the remainder of the season. He will finish the year with 58 stolen bases, tying his career high set last season. Patrick Kivlehan and Phillip Ervin are expected to split the centerfield responsibilities.

Felix Hernandez and James Paxton: The Mariners will welcome back two key members of their rotation this week. Hernandez is slated to take the mound on Thursday against the Rangers after missing time with shoulder bursitis. Paxton, out since early August with a strained pectoral muscle, will then pitch Friday against the Astros. Both pitchers will be on a pitch count of 50 pitches. Considering the inherent level of risk and the strict limitation on their availability, fantasy owners should avoid Hernandez and Paxton for the immediate future.

Eduardo Nunez: The infielder has been a nice second half fantasy find since being acquired by Boston in late July. Nunez is hitting .319 with eight home runs, 27 RBIs, and six stolen bases in 37 games in a Red Sox uniform. However, a pair of injuries limited the 30-year old veteran last week as he missed time with mid-back spasms and a right knee contusion. The back injury only cost him one game but he injured the knee in his first game back. He didn’t play Sunday and instead received treatment on the area. The team is hopeful he will return after a rest day Monday though the injury could negatively impact his productivity on the basepath. Hold onto him for now, but scale back your expectations a bit for the next few days.

Rougned Odor and Carlos Gomez: The Rangers second baseman suffered an ankle injury on Sunday in a collision with teammate Nomar Mazara. The injury is reportedly a mild left ankle sprain though the team will perform further testing on the joint Monday. At this point it seems likely the 23-year old will miss at least a game or two, making him a precarious play in weekly formats. Consider him day-to-day for now.

Gomez wasn’t quite as lucky as his ankle injury has been ruled a high ankle sprain. High ankle sprains vary from your “garden variety” ankle sprains and involve a completely different joint, the distal tib-fib joint. High ankle sprains often result in a higher degree of instability and take longer to heal. The injury solidifies Delino DeShields Jr.’s spot in the lineup with Ryan Rua headed to left field. Gomez is waiver wire material in most standard formats.

Steven Souza Jr.: The Rays outfielder hasn’t played since colliding with the right field wall on Friday. No structural damage was uncovered following initial testing, though specifics on the injury remain vague. Look for the team to provide an update some time before the team takes the field Monday against the Yankees.

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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