THE BIG HURT: Hurt file, July 24-29

NOTE: The focus of this column is analysis, so we don't cover the progress of every injured player. We try to highlight the key fantasy contributors, unusual injuries, or situations where the official projected return is variable or not given. Players whose progress is proceeding as expected are very well covered by fantasy news sources; we'll tend to leave those players alone unless we have something we want to add to the news coverage. This column is updated on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Mondays.

Last week's column (July 17-22)


July 29, 2019

Max Scherzer (RHP, WAS) – Back, strain (7/25/19)
So there’s some technical details here. The shoulder is very complex, and the scapula is part of that complexity. The scapula sits atop the posterior ribcage, and is almost entirely suspended there by various muscles. Underneath the scapula are bursa sacs that help lubricate as the scapula moves about. One of the aforementioned muscles is the rhomboid, the location of his current strain.

His issues started about three weeks ago, first described as back stiffness, then a back strain, then bursitis, and now a strain. It is quite possible that when his symptoms first appeared, there was both some bursitis and some muscle damage. The muscle strain could have healed faster, making the bursitis more obvious. Thus, the current strain could be a re-injury. It’s also possible that the lingering effects of the bursitis caused some changes to his throwing motion, which led to a muscle strain. His velocity was down a small bit in his July 25 start, so it’s possible he was symptomatic during that start.

The question, then, is where to go from here as a Scherzer owner. First, He’s going to be risky for a while. Second, he probably needs 2-3 weeks on the IL, but the Nationals are locked in a six-way battle for two wild card slots and can’t easily afford to have him miss 3-4 starts. So expect him to be day-to-day for a while, unless it becomes clear that he can’t perform at a reasonably high level.

2019 Impact: High risk; potential for reduced effectiveness
Est. Return: Early August (best estimate)

Dominic Smith (1B, NYM) – L foot, stress reaction (7/26/19)
A stress reaction is an area of bone that has been weakened by repeat use, and is the precursor to a stress fracture. This may sound like a minor thing, but recall David Dahl (OF, COL) missed more than three months in 2017 with a stress reaction in his rib, and the foot takes considerably more abuse than a rib. He’ll have an MRI to determine the extent of the damage; expect 3-6 weeks at a minimum.
2019 Impact: Unknown extent
Est. Return: Mid-August to early September (best estimate)

Ryan Pressly (RHP, HOU) – R knee bruise (7/23/19)
He was hit in the knee about a week ago and didn’t look comfortable the last time he pitched. A trip to the IL is not assured, but whether he needs time or not, his absence should be short.
2019 Impact: Elevated risk; Variable recovery time
Est. Return: July 30 to early August

Dansby Swanson (SS, ATL) – L foot bruise (7/23/19)
He shouldn’t have to miss much time, though if it turns out he has a bone bruise, that could extend his absence by a week or two.
2019 Impact: Elevated risk
Est. Return: Early August

Enrique Hernandez (2B, LA) – L hand bruise (7/24/19)
His X-rays came up negative, but an MRI was not encouraging. There aren’t many details—this could be just a deep bruise or hematoma, or there could be some damaged bone as well. The latter could cost him the rest of the season, but we’re not there yet. It’s not his top hand, which gives us hope that his hitting won’t be as affected when he does return.
2019 Impact: High risk; unknown extent
Est. Return: Early/mid-August (best estimate)


July 27, 2019

Joey Gallo (OF, TEX) – R wrist, broken hamate (7/23/19)
A broken hamate is the classic wrist injury. It normally means reduced power when the player returns, making the rest of his season a possible washout. The good news, if there is any, is that it’s his bottom hand, which is less involved with generating bat speed. There may be some decrease in power, but given his starting point and the injured hand, he may still be productive when he returns.
2019 Impact: Elevated risk; Possible reduced power
Est. Return: Late August/Early September

Brett Gardner (OF, NYY) – L knee inflammation (7/21/19)
So far, all we’ve gotten in terms of details are “inflammation,” “barking,” and “a little something on the MRI.” These are obviously not very useful. The most likely culprit is tendinitis, and that’s normally 2-3 weeks until the pain subsides. There could be something more serious, like meniscus  damage, but that likely wouldn’t be described as “a little something.”
2019 Impact: Elevated risk
Est. Return: Early August (best estimate)

Edwin Diaz (RHP, NYM) – L toe bruise (7/25/19)
There’s nothing broken, according to x-rays, so it’s a matter of letting the bruise heal. He could be back within a week and if he hits the IL, it will likely be for the minimum.
2019 Impact: Elevated risk
Est Return: August 1-ish (best estimate)

Gary Sanchez (C, NYY) – Groin strain (7/23/19)
It’s been diagnosed as a Grade 1 strain, which is good news. However, being a catcher, he may need more than the standard recovery time. He also has a history here. That all adds up to extra recovery time.
2019 Impact: Elevated risk; Risk of recurrence, Potential for a longer IL stay than projected
Est. Return: Late August/Early September

Blake Snell (LHP, TAM) – L elbow surgery (7/25/19)
This is obvious bad news for those who were hoping for a Snell turnaround. The surgery could effectively end his fantasy season, aside from a couple of playoff tuneups. There’s a chance he returns sooner than that, but it’s not something you want to count on.
2019 Impact: Elevated risk
Est. Return: Late August to mid-September


July 24, 2019

Michael Chavis (2B, BOS) – Back tightness (7/20/19)
Keston Hiura (2B, MIL) – Quad tightness (7/21/19)
Alex Dickerson (OF, SF) – Oblique tightness (7/21/19)

Muscle tightness is most often the result of a strain. It's usually a minor strain, especially if the player does not hit the IL right away—it may even be minor enough that the player returns to play within a few days. However, in most cases there's still some damage to be healed, putting the player at higher risk for the next couple of weeks. (The pain from a muscle strain typically subsides before the injury is fully healed.) In these three cases, each may escape an IL trip, but the risks are higher.
2019 Impact: Elevated risk; potential for an IL trip
Est. Return: July 24-26 (best estimate)

Tyler Mahle (RHP, CIN) – L hamstring strain (7/20/19)
This appears to be a simple strain, so he should return quickly.
2019 Impact: Elevated risk; potential for recurrence
Est. Return: Early August

Ryan Zimmerman (1B, WAS) – R foot, plantar fasciitis (7/21/19)
This cost him two months earlier in the season, though that's an unusual length of time for fasciitis to subside. However, it has a high recurrence rate. We can hope that his current stay is shorter.
2019 Impact: High risk; potential for longer IL stay than projected
Est. Return:
Mid-August (best estimate)

C.J. Cron (1B, MIN) – R thumb inflammation (7/20/19)
The team hasn't exactly been forthcoming with details about his injury, but the most likely cause is a sprain (likely occurring on July 5). He only missed the minimum, which isn't usually enough time for a recovery. We can hopefully expect that he's partway to being healed at this point, but he will likely be out for a couple of weeks at a minimum.
2019 Impact: Likely minimal
Est. Return: Early August

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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.