From the opening pitch of Closing Time back in April 2008, we've tried to stay away from making this an injury blog. Sure, we have to talk about hurt players coming and going and the DL chase will always get some play in this series, somewhere, but we really hate to turn this into a medical journal.
Alas, we had no choice on Thursday. Yikes, what a horrendous day to be a fantasy owner.
The Braves got bad news on the young right-handed starter Kris Medlen(notes); he's got a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. The team will let things settle here for a few weeks but it's almost certain that Medlen will need Tommy John surgery. Maybe Medlen will make a comeback at some point late in 2011 – the rehab time off this procedure isn't as lengthy as it once was – but in most redraft leagues, you won't have to bother ranking Medlen next spring.
There is one silver lining to the Medlen news – it speeds up the arrival time on highly touted prospect Mike Minor(notes). Doc Behrens introduced the rookie earlier in the day; click here and have a look.
What exactly did the Red Sox do to deserve their star-crossed 2010 season – steal the Hawaiian idol from Bobby Brady? Kevin Youkilis(notes) is the latest Red Sox player to feel the sting; he needs season-ending surgery on his right thumb. Mike Lowell(notes) probably gains in value with Youkilis out; Lowell went 1-for-4 in Thursday's win, batting in the No. 7 slot.
We expected the worst with Carlos Santana(notes) earlier in the week and the fears were confirmed on Thursday; he's headed for surgery and is done for the season too. Rehab time is expected to be 4-6 months, so Santana could be a tricky call at the beginning of next year. Lou Marson(notes) is around to replace Santana but he's not going to help your fantasy club; he's got a career .620 OPS over 213 at-bats, and he'll bat last in the Cleveland lineup.
Russell Martin's(notes) star has faded significantly in the last couple of years, so his hip injury probably doesn't hurt mixed-league players all that much. The club fears that he might be done for the year, which means we'll have to watch A.J. Ellis(notes) and Brad Ausmus(notes) catch the rest of the summer in Los Angeles. There's nothing good about that from a fantasy perspective.
Enough on the sick bay, let's shift our attention to people who were actually on a sandlot during Thursday's 10-game slate:
• Is the glass half full or half empty with Arizona rookie right-hander Barry Enright(notes)? He's given the Snakes seven solid starts in a row (the latest coming in Thursday's victory over Washington) and obviously a 2.81 ERA and 1.27 WHIP is going to play in any format.
That said, Enright's overall stat profile doesn't blow you away – he's only got 28 strikeouts against 15 walks, he's allowing a slew of fly balls (two of them left the park against the Nats) and we're not talking about someone with lights-out stuff (his average fastball is a tick under 90 mph). This looks like the type of pitcher who could get exposed during his second time around the league; I'm not endorsing him for Tuesday's start at Milwaukee, at least in a standard mixed format with 12 teams.
• The consensus is that the Pirates did very well for themselves in the Octavio Dotel(notes) trade, and James McDonald(notes) pushed that theme along nicely with an impressive victory over the Rockies (6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K). McDonald always seemed to be on the cusp of making it with the Dodgers over the last few seasons, and next year is a critical one as he enters his Age 26 campaign.
His strikeout potential makes him a good name for next year's sleeper log, and I won't be afraid to spot start him now and then for the balance of 2010 if the matchup looks right. He's at San Diego next week, probably a good spot if you need a streamable arm.
• Are we ready to forgive Daisuke Matsuzaka(notes) for past roto violations? He's been useful in eight of his last 10 starts – really, the numbers are there – and he had his way against the Indians on Thursday (8 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K). This doesn't mean I'd use him at Toronto next week, but Matsuzaka has to be considered over the final third of the year. The Tribe had a modest rally in the ninth against Hideki Okajima(notes), which allowed Jonathan Papelbon(notes) to come in and get a cheap save.
• The White Sox did the sensible thing against Miguel Cabrera(notes) on Thursday, walking him three times in five trips. Brennan Boesch(notes) and Jhonny Peralta(notes), the batters after Cabrera in the Detroit order, combined to go 2-for-10 with nine men left on base. Both of the closers were knocked around in this matinee; Bobby Jenks(notes) picked up a blown save courtesy of Ryan Raburn's(notes) ninth-inning homer, while Jose Valverde's(notes) second inning of work turned into a mess, giving the White Sox two runs and the victory in 11 innings.
• A lot of those Washington outfielders start to look the same after a while, but let's give Roger Bernadina(notes) a second look, he's earned it. The toolsy outfielder quietly has a .277 average over 238 at-bats this year, with some pop (seven homers, one Thursday) and some speed (eight steals in 10 attempts). He's in line to get playing time now that Nyjer Morgan(notes) (hip) is headed for the disabled list, and he's available in 99 percent of Yahoo! leagues. This is the Year of the Pitcher, remember; we have to take offense anywhere we can get it. Bernadina has also batted leadoff in the past two games, for what it's worth.
• Ichiro Suzuki isn't having his best year by any means, but he's still been a steady player at the top of the Mariners lineup in 2010. There's nothing wrong with a .313 average or a .363 OBP. He remains a plus base stealer, copping 28 bags in 35 attempts.
Runs scored, you ask? Hah. You've come to the wrong place. Ichiro(notes) only has 44 runs through 109 games (a ridiculously-low number given his other stats); the 2010 Seattle Mariners couldn't score in a women's prison with a fistful of pardons.
Tommy Hunter(notes) and three Texas relievers shut out the M's on Thursday, the fifth time in 16 games Seattle hasn't posted any runs (sorry about that, King Felix). The Mariners are the lowest-scoring team in the majors with just 353 tallies; they're 22 runs behind the Pirates and 46 runs behind the Orioles. The Mariners rank last in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, doubles and home runs. At this point just about any non-scrub pitcher in the American League is a viable stream candidate against the Mariners. Bruce Chen(notes) on Saturday? Sure, why not. Vin Mazzaro(notes) on Monday? Count me in. Let's exploit this weak offense as much as we can down the stretch.
Speed Round: The Rays know the deal by now – sometimes you win by the catwalk, sometimes you lose by the catwalk. Minnesota got the bounce in its favor Thursday afternoon en route to a quirky 8-6 victory. Matt Capps(notes) struck out three of the five men he faced and picked up the victory. … A 3-for-28 slump and some roster gridlock pushed Chris Denorfia(notes) to the bench at Chavez Ravine on Thursday, but he came through as a pinch-hitter, knocking a 2-run homer to help the Padres put the Dodgers away. … The Giants had Jair Jurrjens(notes) on the ropes in the early innings, but the Atlanta righty escaped with only two runs scoring, then settled down en route to a quality start (6 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 3 K). Tim Lincecum(notes) took the loss on the other side, in part because of the homers he allowed to Eric Hinske(notes) and Alex Gonzalez(notes). … Torii Hunter(notes) was permanently moved to right field during the Baltimore series and he handled the move with class all the way. Coincidentally or not, he also started to hit, going 7-for-13 with a homer in the three-game set. Alas, the Angels still were swept by the resurgent Boys of Buck Showalter.