Friday, June 14, 2013
Rockies lose Tulo, Beachy set to return
By Eric Karabell
The seemingly brittle NL West teams just can't seem to catch a break when it comes to key injuries. The Los Angeles Dodgers haven't had their optimal lineup all year, and two outfielders are still out. The San Diego Padres got center fielder Cameron Maybin back recently after he missed a few months, and now he's out a few more. The Arizona Diamondbacks thought they'd get right-hander Daniel Hudson back this summer, but they won't. On Wednesday in this space, I discussed the rough day for the San Francisco Giants (Pablo Sandoval, Marco Scutaro). And Thursday, the Colorado Rockies simply had one of those days: Two starting outfielders were hurt in the same game, and the best shortstop in the league broke a rib. Caught up yet?
These injuries have made the division race a bit more interesting -- all five teams remain contenders, really -- but fantasy owners are trying to figure out how they should be reacting. What happened to the Rockies in their 5-4 home loss to the Washington Nationals on Thursday just doesn't seem fair. Carlos Gonzalez, the No. 2 overall option on ESPN's Player Rater, suffered a bruised left foot when a Jordan Pacheco foul ball struck him while he was waiting his turn in the on-deck circle. Center fielder Dexter Fowler, the No. 11 outfielder on the Rater, was hit in the right hand by a Ross Detwiler pitch trying to bunt, and he should miss some time. Fortunately, neither Gonzalez nor Fowler suffered broken bones, but nevertheless Tyler Colvin will certainly be safe in terms of expected playing time this weekend. Poor Eric Young Jr. was designated for assignment recently, or else he'd see more playing time.
[+]Enlarge Jim McIsaac/Getty Images The Rockies lost Troy Tulowitzki (left) and Carlos Gonzalez in the same game last night. Gonzalez (ankle) is day-to-day; Tulo (broken rib) is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.
Alas, the most significant injury was suffered by oft-injured shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who left in the eighth inning with a broken rib on his right side, likely either suffered or exacerbated on a diving defensive play. Like Gonzalez, it's hard to understate Tulowitzki's value to a fantasy team, but only one of these guys (Tulo) missed more than 100 games last year, and has played more than 140 games in only three of his six seasons. He's the 10th-best hitter on the Player Rater, but he and New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano are basically the only reliable veteran middle infielders who can be counted on for big-time power and batting average annually. The length of time missed for this injury is expected to be at least a month, perhaps six weeks.
The potential Scutaro replacements mentioned in Wednesday's blog entry remain reasonable options, though in this case your fantasy lineup will be losing a key power option (.347 batting average, 16 home runs), as opposed to merely batting average. Rickie Weeks, Erick Aybar and Nick Franklin top the short list of potential replacements, though Mike Aviles, Yunel Escobar and Daniel Descalso might be the best you can get. Another option: Josh Rutledge. The Rockies are expected to recall him, and he should get a long run at second base or shortstop. This is a good thing for fantasy owners; as mentioned when the 24-year-old was surprisingly shipped to Triple-A Colorado Springs three weeks ago, Rutledge was a top-10 fantasy second baseman at the time, owned in nearly all ESPN standard leagues and on pace for 18 home runs, 18 stolen bases and 92 runs scored. His issues stem from plate discipline and poor defense, but few can argue with the counting numbers. Even today, after not having played in the majors since May 20, Rutledge is the No. 21 middle infielder on the Player Rater, which is amazing. The Rockies also have Jonathan Herrera and DJ LeMahieu, but Rutledge should get plenty of playing time.
Rutledge was hitting .348 with an OPS of 1.003, and had drawn eight walks against 11 strikeouts in Triple-A. While Rutledge had improved his walk rate this season compared to his successful 2012 rookie season, he still wasn't drawing many free passes. Perhaps he never will. But any middle infielder capable of a 20-homer, 20-steal season, even if he hits only .260 or so, is certainly worth adding in a fantasy league. See if he's available right away, whether you own Tulowitzki or not.
[+]Enlarge Daniel Shirey/USA TODAY SportsBraves starter Brandon Beachy is owned in just 32.5 percent of ESPN standard leagues.
Box score bits (NL):Atlanta Braves right-hander Brandon Beachy, coming off Tommy John surgery, made his final rehab start for Triple-A Gwinnett on Thursday, allowing three hits, four walks and three runs (two earned) in three innings. Beachy is worth stashing even in shallow leagues for his potential start Tuesday against the New York Mets, but set reasonable expectations. Much-maligned Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro was restored to the No. 2 spot in the lineup and had three hits and two stolen bases Thursday. Castro, who is hitting a bit of an unlucky .243, had attempted just one steal over the past seven weeks. Hopefully this is a harbinger of good things. Mets right-hander Matt Harvey finally lost! Of course, he still pitched great (one run over seven innings), which is more important. His future teammate Zack Wheeler -- it should be next week! -- permitted just one hit over 5 2/3 innings for Triple-A Las Vegas on Thursday, fanning seven. Don't presume Wheeler will have the same big league success as Harvey; he could be more like Baltimore Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman, whom everyone loved a month ago but was demoted after Thursday's outing with a 7.66 ERA. Most young pitchers struggle initially.
Box score bits (AL): New York Yankees Mark Teixeira, Travis Hafner, Kevin Youkilis and Vernon Wells, the team's No. 4 through 7 hitters, combined to go hitless in 28 at-bats with 12 strikeouts in Thursday's 18-inning loss to the Oakland Athletics. That's rough. Teixeira is the only one worth a roster spot in 10- or 12-team leagues at this point. Wells, who hit .300 in April, hit .221 in May and is 4-for-42 so far in June. Don't go near him in fantasy anymore. Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau hit a two-run double off lefty Cliff Lee on Thursday and is hitting .294 so far. The problem: He has just two home runs. Don't assume statistical changes are pending either. Same for Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, who hit his second home run Thursday. Two home runs in 10 weeks! Chris Davis achieves this before the singing of the national anthem. I'd still take Hosmer over Morneau, but it's close. Boston Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury certainly seems healthy now. He stole his 30th base of the season Thursday, and now has stolen a base in six consecutive games. Don't look for Red Sox teammate Clay Buchholz (neck) to start this weekend; a DL stint appears more likely. Toronto Blue Jays underachiever Emilio Bonifacio stole his eighth base of the season Thursday, doing so in his 56th game. Last year he swiped 30 bags in 64 games. Still, speed from a middle infielder can be valuable in deep leagues.