insideinjuries.com looks at active players working through health issues
Every week of the MLB season Inside Injuries will take a look at players who are either playing through health issues or coming back from injuries. We break down their stats and how we expect them to perform in the coming weeks.
David Price SP, Red Sox
The 2017 season was difficult for Price’s fantasy owners. He started the season on the disabled list with an elbow injury. At the time, the Red Sox indicated that tests showed no evidence of a torn ulnar nerve, which would have required Tommy John surgery. Price ended up missing more than half the season. He made just 11 starts in which he compiled a record of 5-3 with a 3.82 ERA. He also made five relief appearances and finished with a record of 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA and a 0.55 WHIP. Over the winter it was determined that rest followed by an exercise program to strengthen the muscles around his elbow and protect him from nerve and/or ligament damage was the best course of action.
As a result, Price was pegged as a pitcher to target in Fantasy drafts this spring, with many analysts pointing to his long history of dominant pitching and drinking the Kool-Aid that the Red Sox served up regarding his health. Price came with a reduced price tag and diminished ranking overall ranking in Fantasy, which only made him more appealing to owners looking for a bargain ace. Price got a late start in spring training but it didn’t seem to affect him. He began the season with a pair of strong outings in which he didn’t allow an earned run in 14 total innings pitched.
It was at this point that Price first complained about numbness in the fingers of his left arm. He was briefly shut down while the Red Sox’ training staff devised a way to change his grip and arm slot to protect him from further injury. It appeared to work, but Price was never really the same. Over his next five starts, Price went 1-4 with an 8.22 ERA, 1.83 WHIP and he allowed four home runs over 23 innings pitched with 22 strikeouts and 13 walks. Batters slashed .309/.394/.543 off him during this span. All of this culminated with Price being removed from his start this past Tuesday due to a return of the numbness in his pitching hand.
The Red Sox ultimately announced that Price is battling a “mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome.” Inside Injuries is listing Price’s injury as a Grade 1 or 2 ligament sprain, which carries an Optimal Recovery Time of three weeks. If Price continues to pitch or returns too early with this type of injury (and he may attempt to do so this weekend), he is at High Risk of additional injury as his mechanics and arm slot will change to compensate for the hand/grip discomfort.
If you currently own Price, he should be benched until he recovers fully from this injury. Better yet, if you can convince someone that this injury is minor and you can get decent value in a trade, you should consider making the deal. However, you will most likely need to stash him away until he recovers. This sort of injury can easily reoccur (as we’ve already found out), so it might not be a bad idea to trade him as soon as he returns to action, as there is a very good chance he will get hurt again.
Justin Bour 1B, Marlins
Justin Bour has been dealing with a Grade 1 paraspinal muscle strain since April 27. At that point he had played 25 games and was batting .250/.357/.417 with four homers and 13 RBIs. Inside Injuries calculated a two-week Optimal Recovery Time for the injury, which is relatively minor as far as back issues go. Bour was held out of the lineup for a couple of games but never went on the disabled list, so it’s no surprise that his performance has been below average. At the time of the injury, Inside Injuries designated his Health Performance Factor as below average.
Bour has started just six games since then (he also made two pinch hit appearances) and compiled a triple slash of .182/.308/.591 (4 for 22) with three home runs. His overall numbers for the season have sunk to .236/.347/.453. Since back injuries often reoccur and can be tricky, even under optimal circumstances, it’s difficult to estimate when Bour might return to an optimal Health Performance Factor without any off time to heal.
It is recommended that Bour be benched in Fantasy leagues until his body has a chance to heal. It could be several weeks before we see any real improvement. As he’s already shown, he will continue to hit the occasional home run, albeit with a strikeout rate approaching 30 percent and little other production. There is plenty of home run power available on the waiver wires, making Bour an expendable asset in all but the very deepest of leagues.
Welington Castillo C, White Sox
Castillo has been banged up with several different injuries already this season. Around the two-week mark of the season, Castillo missed several games with an undisclosed knee injury. This was followed by a nine-game stretch in which he batted .281/.361/.406 and hit his first home run of the season. Then Castillo was sidelined by an abdominal strain that has kept him off the field for all but four games since. During that span he’s batted .188/.188/.563 with two home runs, both of which came in his last game.
Granted, we are looking at very small samples here, so no matter what conclusions we draw, Castillo should be watched closely by Fantasy owners to see if he continues to trend positively. Castillo’s Hard Hit rate (Hard%) was a below average 32.1 percent during the month of April. Since the calendar flipped to May, his Hard% has spiked to 74 percent. While there is no way he will continue to hit the ball that hard so often, he may have turned a corner. His career Hard% is 36.4 percent and his recent hot stretch has him up to 37.7 percent for the season. However, he’s had a Hard% of 39 percent over the last two seasons, so there is a very good chance we are seeing Castillo round into form.
Since Omar Narvaez (he of the .176 batting average thus far) is Castillo’s only competition for backstop duties with the White Sox, Fantasy owners need not worry about Castillo losing his job. He should be active in all two-catcher leagues, and once he regains his full hitting stroke, Castillo should also regain his status as a Top 10 Fantasy catcher.
David Price Featured Image: (AP Photo/Richard Rodriguez)