Fantasy Training Room: Concerns For Strasburg, Outlook For Gomez’ Latest Injury & More

by Jeremy Tiermini

“Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.” Yogi Berra

I have to give this week’s quote to one of my favorite players in baseball. I had the great fortune of meeting Mr. Berra at a sports memorabilia convention many years ago and he was a wonderful gentleman. His malapropisms have livened up many an interview. Unfortunately, the “half physical” part of this quote is difficult to believe, as the significant injuries continue to plaque fantasy owners this season.

Carlos Gomez (MIL OF)
In a previous piece I suggested that Anthony Rendon of the Nationals could be the leader for the 2015 Bust of the Year…  Gomez could be a close second. The Brewers outfielder has only played in 13 games this year, missing a significant chunk of time because of a strained right hamstring muscle. Once he returned from that injury he did play in 5 games, but went just 5-for-21, and has now missed the last two games because of a strained right hip flexor. I am concerned because both of these injuries are on the same side; Gomez is a right-handed batter so this is the leg that provides the power during the swing. With only one home run on the season it is easy to see how he could be limited because of this injury.

While he did indicate, in a report on MLB.com, that he could have played on Friday the team is being cautious. “I could play today,” said Gomez, “but we want to make sure everything is 100 percent.” He continued, “I don’t know if it is because I didn’t play for 17 days and then I played five in a row. That’s probably why it started getting inflamed. It is something that I can play through. But in this situation it is better to lose a coupe of days than weeks or months.”

While that is certainly true from a performance standpoint, it is also true from a business perspective. With the team struggling Milwaukee could shift into rebuilding mode and Gomez certainly would be an attractive bargaining chip. His contract only calls for him to make $17 million over the next two seasons and he is 29 years old. He is a tremendous value for a player with 25+ HR / 35+ steals potential. From the business standpoint the Brewers should deal him as soon as he proves healthy, if they are indeed rebuilding. His current injury status has limited his fantasy value but he could be an intriguing target in fantasy baseball if he is dealt to a contending team.

Devin Mesoraco (CIN C)
Mesoraco entered this season as a solid fantasy option behind the dish because of his power potential. However, because of an impingement in his left hip the Reds backstop is still not able to squat which means that he is limited to serving as Cincinnati’s designated hitter during interleague action or pinch hitting. He has indicated that he is trying to avoid surgery. In an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, Mesoraco stated, “We’re doing everything we can to stop that (surgery) from happening. We’ve done PRP (platelet-rich plasma injections). We did cortisone. We did lubricating injections. We’re trying to do the best we can to go out and finish the season. It’s frustrating. This isn’t what I expected going into the year.”

I think it is safe to say that Mesoraco’s owners were not expecting this in 2015, either, hoping he could repeat his 25 HR performance from last season. The problem that he faces is the 4-month rehabilitation time for this surgery, so having the surgery now could result in him being out for the remainder of the season. Until Cincinnati falls out of playoff contention it sounds like the team will keep him active to use his bat in a limited capacity.

To me, the biggest fantasy implication of Mesoraco’s injury is not for this season, but for 2016.  If he only serves as a DH / PH for the rest of 2015 he could lose catcher-eligibility for some portion of next season (he has been a catcher for 6 games thus far in 2015), depending on your league’s rules.

Stephen Strasburg (WAS SP)
He experienced discomfort behind his right shoulder blade during his last start, leaving Tuesday’s game after just three innings. The Nationals reported he had a cramp because of an “alignment issue”, per a report in the Washington Post. He had a chiropractic adjustment on Wednesday and he was able to do some light throwing. “It was instant,” Strasburg stated in the same report, in regards to the alleviation of the pain. “After he felt around for a little bit, saw what was different from the other side, just got it all out of there. So night and day.”

Those words are encouraging, as is the fact that he did not have an MRI. He is scheduled for a bullpen session today and, if he completes it, should be able to make his scheduled start on Monday. My ultimate concern in this situation is why he was having alignment issues and my concerns were addressed in the article, with Strasburg saying the following: “The biggest thing is just to keep working hard and working with the trainers and (physical therapists) to kinda get the mechanics back to where it needs to be so stuff like this doesn’t become an issue again.”

Mechanics…the word I love so much. Any deterioration in Strasburg’s mechanics could certainly result in a cramp of the subscapularis (the muscle between the shoulder blade and the rib cage). Altered mechanics could also explain why his average fastball velocity is down so far in 2015, per Fangraphs. Those mechanics could also indicate that his body is trying to accommodate for some other injury. The Nationals have not reported anything thus far so now is not the time to overreact but, if you own him this is certainly a situation that deserves very close attention.

David Wright (NYM 3B)

The Mets third baseman has missed the last three weeks because of a strained right hamstring. Currently on a rehab assignment, he was shut down yesterday from all baseball activities today because of lower back pain. An MRI did not reveal any structural damage, which is a positive sign. The negative is that he does have a previous medical history of back issues (he missed 58 games in 2011 because of a stress fracture), along with injuries to his shoulder and to his hamstrings.

The current plan calls for him to resume baseball activities on Monday and, if there are no setbacks, completing his rehab assignment next week, though Mets GM Sandy Alderson has indicated that Wright’s stay on the disabled list could be extended. When he does return, manager Terry Collins has indicated that he will give Wright more rest time. The injury history and the possibility of decreased playing time certainly limit his fantasy value.

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