To say that the Texas Rangers have been snakebit this season is an understatement. No team in all of baseball has been decimated by injuries more than the Rangers this year, which can only have GM Jon Daniels wondering what it was that he did to deserve the karmic payback that has attacked his roster with a vengeance and has cast serious doubt on any hopes of making it back to the playoffs this year.
The news that Prince Fielder will miss the rest of the year, thanks to a neck injury that will require surgery, sent ripples through the fantasy community and brings an early end to a mostly disappointing first year in Arlington for the team’s biggest off-season acquisition. To compound matters even more, the same day that word of Fielder’s impending surgery broke, it was also revealed that second baseman Jurickson Profar re-injured his shoulder and will now be sidelined until at least August.
The fact that Profar reportedly aggravated his injury by rolling over in bed just added to the ridiculous string of bad luck that started back when starter Derek Holland tripped over his dog Wrigley in January, tearing his meniscus. Since then, the team has sent 17 players to the disabled list, including starting catcher Geovany Soto and promising young starter Martin Perez, who was breaking out in April before breaking down in early-May and undergoing elbow surgery. No one seems safe, as reserve outfielder Dan Robertson can attest after sustaining a fractured cheekbone in a collision with Alex Rios.
Obviously, the Fielder injury is the biggest blow for fantasy owners, since he cost a pretty penny on draft day. He was coming off a lackluster 2013, but the move to a hitter’s park had people expecting a rebound, especially in the power department. While the signs of decline were there, the one thing you could hang your hat on when selecting the bulky slugger early was his durability. He had missed only one game in the last five years, and never played less than 157 games in his eight full seasons in the Majors.
But all those numbers don’t mean much today and won’t help either the Rangers or fantasy owners move on without a major part of their respective roster. The Rangers will stay in-house for now, as Mitch Moreland will be pressed into everyday duty at first until further notice. He also will be moved up in the lineup, which along with regular playing time should help to increase his value. He won’t replace the power that Fielder brought to the lineup, but he can drive in runs if he can stick behind the table-setters, and he still has decent pop. In the wake of all the moves Daniels made this off-season, hanging onto Moreland, even after signing Fielder, could turn out to be one of the better decisions he made.
The other name that has been bandied about over the weekend was Kendrys Morales, who is still waiting for someone to liberate him from free-agency limbo. If you lost Fielder over the weekend, then stashing Morales is a smart play. Even if teams wait until the deadline for draft compensation passes on June 8th, at that point someone will step up with an offer, with the Rangers one of a handful of teams that figure to make a play for his services.
Yordano Ventura left his start on Monday in the third inning with discomfort in his elbow after giving up five runs on seven hits and three walks. His fastball velocity was down in the low 90’s, which was the first sign that something wasn’t right with the diminutive flamethrower, whose fastball regularly touches 100 mph. He will undergo an MRI Tuesday and fantasy owners are holding out hope that he will not become the latest to fall victim to Tommy John surgery this year. The team doctors have suggested the injury isn’t to the UCL, but we won’t know until they take a look inside. The best case scenario would be a short trip to the disabled list while the worst case...well you know.
The Rangers took some of their frustrations out on Justin Verlander on Sunday, pounding him for nine runs (six earned) on eleven hits in five and a third innings. He also walked three and struck out only one batter, something that hadn’t occurred since 2008. That makes two starts in a row that Verlander has given up eleven hits, which has pushed his WHIP to an unsightly 1.51. He’s given up 16 earned runs over his last three starts as well, which has pushed his ERA over 4.00. His struggles have owners scratching their heads and actually pondering benching their “ace” until he rights the ship. His velocity has continued to drop, his walks are up and his mechanics have been sloppy, which has led some to question if he is still suffering some of the effects of his abdominal surgery. If you have him, you can’t drop him and trading him while his stock is this low makes little sense as well. All you can do is hope that he can turn things around even if he can’t return to the dominant heights he has reached previously in his career.
George Springer continued to reward fantasy owners who stuck with the rookie after a dismal start to his career in April by homering for the fourth consecutive game on Monday. The five home runs in four games gives him eight for the month of May and firmly slams shut any window you might have had to acquire the 24-year-old cheaply.
The Red Sox finally decided to shut down the ailing Mike Napoli so he can recover from a host of nagging injuries. Mike Carp will be the primary beneficiary while Napoli is out, but the Red Sox will hope to get Napoli back into their struggling offense as soon as possible.
Staying in Boston, Clay Buchholz could be on the verge of losing his rotation spot after issuing a career-high eight walks against Atlanta on Monday. He gave up six runs, which gives him an ERA of 7.02 on the year. Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster are next in line to replace him should the team decide to go that route.
The Angels got Kole Calhoun back from the disabled list, but he did not reclaim his leadoff spot upon his return. If he remains in the lower part of the lineup, it puts a little bit of a damper on his fantasy prospects going forward, not to mention that he may sit against lefties as well. I still like him, but not as much as I did prior to the season.