In Monday's Daily Dose, we heard an ominous warning that Bryce Harper's thumb injury could require an extended absence. Now it appears that the worst-case scenario has come to fruition.
ESPN's Keith Law broke the bad news Monday evening that Harper suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb on his head-first slide into third base last Friday night against the Padres. The 21-year-old outfielder will undergo surgery and could be sidelined until the early part of July. We should have more clarity on a potential timeline after the procedure is completed.
The news is another gut punch for the Nationals, who have already had their fair share of high-profile injuries in this young season with Doug Fister, Wilson Ramos, and Ryan Zimmerman all missing time. The fantasy impact is immense, as many drafted Harper this spring in hopes that an MVP-like campaign was on the way. However, much like last season, health is preventing him from finding that next level. Harper is obviously capable of elite fantasy production upon his return, but those who paid a big price this spring will have to piece things together for at least the next two months.
With Harper sidelined, Nate McLouth should see pretty regular playing time in Washington's outfield. The 32-year-old hit. 258/.329/.399 with 12 home runs and 30 stolen bases in 146 games with the Orioles last season. While he has struggled so far this season, he should be worth using in deeper mixed leagues for now.
Going by Yahoo's ownership data, here are some other outfielders who are widely available at the moment: B.J. Upton (31 percent owned) Marcell Ozuna (30 percent owned), Matt Joyce (27 percent owned), Dayan Viciedo (23 percent owned), Denard Span (6 percent owned), Corey Dickerson (5 percent owned) Jarrod Dyson (2 percent owned), Cameron Maybin (2 percent owned). Heck, it might pay to stash top prospect Gregory Polanco (25 percent owned) if you have the roster flexibility. Good luck out there.
Oblique Outlook for Braun
Another update on an injured star outfielder? Sure, why not?
Ryan Braun left Saturday's game with what was initially called a slight strain of his intercostal, but an MRI on Sunday showed that he's actually dealing with a strained oblique. While Brewers manager Ron Roenicke estimated Sunday that Braun would likely miss around 3-5 days, oblique injuries are notoriously tricky and unpredictable. With that in mind, a trip to the disabled list could be in his future if he doesn't make progress in the next few days. Be sure to have a backup plan in place in fantasy leagues.
Of course, Braun has already been playing through a nagging right thumb injury this season. While his power has been concentrated in just a couple of games, he's hitting .318/.361/.591 with six home runs, 18 RBI, and three stolen bases through 97 plate appearances so far.
Johnson Ready For Another Shot?
Jim Johnson was yanked from the closer role with the Athletics two weeks ago after he allowed seven runs on nine hits and six walks over his first 3 1/3 innings of work this season, but it looks like he could get another chance soon.
While Luke Gregerson and Sean Doolittle have been sharing the closer job, Johnson has reeled off six straight scoreless appearances over 7 2/3 innings. The 30-year-old right-hander has allowed just five hits and two walks during that time while striking out eight batters. He's also inducing grounders in bunches.
"It has certainly elevated the potential for him to close," Athletics manager Bob Melvin told Jane Lee of MLB.com on Monday. "He's pitching really well."
It would be one thing if Gregerson or Doolittle were running away with the opportunity, but that really hasn't happened here. In fact, Doolittle has had a few rough appearances of late. Given Johnson's previous success in the role, it always seemed likely that he would get another chance if he showed signs of progress. Well, he has. Be sure to pick him up in any leagues where he was dropped. He's still available in 27 percent of Yahoo leagues and 33.2 percent of ESPN.com leagues.
AL Quick Hits: Sonny Gray allowed three hits and struck out six in his first career shutout Monday against the Rangers … Shin-Soo Choo (ankle) flew out as a pinch-hitter Monday and expects to return to the Rangers' lineup Tuesday … Chris Sale (elbow) played catch for a second straight day Tuesday, but there's still no timetable for his return … Yu Darvish had the shortest start of his MLB career Monday against the Athletics, allowing four runs over 3 2/3 innings … Jose Abreu singled for his MLB-leading 32nd RBI in Monday's win over the Rays … Yoenis Cespedes (hamstring) missed his fourth straight game Monday and is considered 50-50 to play Tuesday … Josh Reddick went 3-for-4 with an RBI triple on Monday against the Rangers and has five multi-hit games in his last 11 … Joe Smith notched a save Monday against the Indians, his first since replacing Ernesto Frieri as the Angels' closer … Alejandro De Aza clubbed a two-run homer in Monday's win over the Rays … Nate Jones (back) has yet to resume baseball activities … The Blue Jays optioned Ryan Goins to Triple-A Buffalo and will call up Chris Getz to replace him on the active roster … Scott Baker can opt out of his minor league contract with the Rangers on Thursday … Lorenzo Cain (groin) could be activated from the disabled list when he's first eligible this weekend …Hector Noesi could start for the White Sox on Wednesday against the Tigers …
NL Quick Hits: Clayton Kershaw (back) will make another minor league rehab start on Wednesday and could be activated May 5-7 against the Diamondbacks … Troy Tulowitzki went 3-for-3 with a home run, three RBI, and two walks Monday in a win over the Diamondbacks … Mat Latos (elbow) hopes to resume throwing off a mound in the next week … Wilin Rosario underwent an MRI on his left hand on Monday which ruled out a fracture … Francisco Rodriguez tossed a scoreless 12th inning to lock down Monday's win over the Cardinals and is now a perfect 12-for-12 in save opportunities … Jedd Gyorko was placed on the paternity leave list Monday and might not return to action until Friday … Aramis Ramirez left Monday's game against the Cardinals after he was hit on the left elbow by a pitch, but X-rays came back negative and he's considered day-to-day … Juan Lagares (hamstring) moved his minor league rehab assignment up to Triple-A Las Vegas on Monday and is on track to be activated this weekend … Khris Davis struck out four times Monday against the Cardinals, but also had a go-ahead RBI triple in an extra-inning victory … Jake Arrieta (shoulder) will be activated from the disabled list to start this weekend against the Cardinals, bumping Carlos Villanueva to the bullpen … With Doug Fister (lat) nearing his return, Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that the Nationals will option Taylor Jordan to Triple-A Syracuse … Third-string catcher Rene Rivera went 2-for-5 with a three-run homer and five total RBI to help the Padres beat the Giants Monday night ...