Spring Training Injury Report – Dynasty Implications
Bird is out with the same injury that cost him much of the 2017 season. Last year, Bird underwent surgery on July 17th to remove a bone spur on the same foot (in the same location, near what is called the tarsal tunnel). The good news is that he returned six weeks later on August 26th. A second surgery can take a little longer to heal, but he likely will return to the team in the projected 6-8 weeks. His progression this year will probably follow what he did last year. Three weeks before his return he had live BP and had a 10-14 day tune-up in the minors. Estimated Return: May 9th to May 21st
The bad news is that he may not last with this type of nagging injury. Surgeons removed a “coin-sized calcium deposit,” also known as a loose bone spur. These spurs are much like a callus that forms on the palms of our hands. Any time there is too much friction the body responds by protecting itself with build-up to combat excess friction. Bird’s mid-foot is not happy, and even after he recovers at some point, they will need to identify what the real problem is. The answer to that problem may be a surgery that keeps him out much, much longer.
I have one share of Bird in my dynasty leagues, and here is my plan: hold him until he returns in May, hope he gets off to a hot start and then flip him in July. It’s challenging to have confidence in his health long-term.
Long-term – Sell
We know the injury was a fracture to the fifth metacarpal and required surgery with pins. The use of pins tells us quite a bit about the injury and his timetable. Surgeons use pins when a fracture is displaced and unstable, meaning a cast alone would not heal the fracture. Pins are often left in 4-6 weeks. 4 weeks if the fracture is mildly displaced, 6 is multiple pins were required to reduce the fracture (reduce means line the bones back up correctly).
Before the removal of the pins, rehab is largely limited to ensure proper healing, but Bumgarner may do some light toss and as much as possible to retain flexibility in his hand and other fingers. After the pin removal, he’ll need 2-3 weeks to regain his finger flexibility, ramp up his throwing program, and finally pitch a few innings in a minor league game. It’s not going to be six weeks; it doesn’t work that way. Even after Bumgarner returns it may take him a few weeks to return to form. I don’t anticipate any long-term problem from the injury, as bones heal well in most cases. Estimated Return: June 12th to June 22nd
Short-term, Long-term – Buy (but he may only make 18-20 starts this season)
Lower body injuries have sidelined the young flamethrower for the Braves, but further review shows the Braves are being extremely cautious. If an owner is worried or he suffers another small injury, it may be a nice time to buy in all formats. The sky is the limit for Gohara’s upside.
Short-term, Long-term – Buy
When reviewing medical studies, we often see success rates of surgeries of 80-95%, but not much is said about the poor outcomes. Zach Wheeler is a good example of a Tommy John surgery that did not go well. Kyle Lewis is becoming an example of a failed knee reconstruction. Surgical success is determined by an athlete’s tolerance after returning to activity. Lewis has had the worst kind of problems – no new structural damage, but consistent swelling of the knee.
Lewis is young and a strong 2018 campaign can change my tune, but for now, I would avoid the Mariners’ prospect. The young outfielder may need another surgery if he can’t consistently tolerate the physical demands of baseball. The 11th overall pick in 2016 draft was initially viewed as a nice power-speed combo, but my guess is by the times he reaches the majors he will be a power-only asset.
Short-term, Long-term – Sell
Nothing strikes fear into the heart of a fantasy owner like the dreaded “forearm tightness” or “elbow pain” label. Lamet left a start with elbow pain and the MRI was clean, for now. The real risk is that this turns into a situation that bothers him throughout the season. Dinelson Lamet will resume a throwing program and if he progresses well, he will likely pitch in early May.
Elbow ligaments often fail over a long period of time and surgeons comment on how thin/worn down they are during surgery. It’s possible that Lamet pitches all season and it is also very possible that this minor strain was an indication of more ominous problems on the horizon.