Injury Storylines To Follow: NL Central (2019 Fantasy Baseball)
Spring training is heating up, and we continue to inch towards Opening Day. Drafts are coming up soon and with that, it’s important to monitor any injury storylines that may carry over from last year. While most players spend the offseason rehabbing to get healthier and stronger for the start of the season, drafters should keep in mind those who have had trouble staying on the field recently. This series of posts will take a look at a few key players in each division whom you might want to weigh the risks of drafting.
Yu Darvish (SP – CHC)
After only starting eight games last year in his first season with the Cubs, the pressure is on Darvish in 2019 to perform well and earn the large contract the Chicago gave him. Last May he began what would become essentially a season-long trip to the DL with the diagnosis of triceps tendinitis in his throwing arm. Later in the season it would be discovered that the injury was not a tendonitis, but a stress reaction, and he was shut down for the season. A stress reaction is the early stage of what can eventually become a stress fracture. If you’ve ever had shin splints, then you’ve experienced a stress reaction and know how annoying and painful it can be. This is a more serious injury, and one that is harder to diagnose and treat than your basic tendonitis, which explains why his recovery last season never went as planned. Thus far in spring training, Darvish has played well and seems confident which hopefully points to a return to his prior form.
Kris Bryant (3B – CHC)
Bryant was another Cub who struggled to stay healthy last season and didn’t quite look like himself when he did return to play. After an awkward headfirst slide, Bryant ended up on the DL in June and July last year with ongoing left shoulder inflammation. When he did return to the lineup, fans noticed changes in his swing and he struggled down the stretch with the rest of the team. So far it seems like rest and rehab went well over the offseason because Bryant seems to be playing well and swinging with no issues.
Marcell Ozuna (OF – STL)
In his first season with the Cardinals, Ozuna was playing through a nagging shoulder injury that has been a major focus over the offseason. His fielding and hitting were both affected last season, and his performance took a dip from his All-Star caliber play in 2017. After having arthroscopic surgery last October, he has been rehabbing and has recently began throwing full strength and made his first spring training start in the outfield. He may slip in drafts after a down 2018, but the latest news about him seems encouraging.
Carlos Martinez (P – STL)
After starting last season as an Opening Day starter for the Cardinals, Martinez is in a different position entering 2019. Martinez missed time intermittently last year with a right lat strain and right oblique strain and is currently wearing a sling and will resume throwing any day now. The latest reports are that he may not be ready until May or June. It is thought he may possibly end up working out of the bullpen when he returns, but it will depend on his progress. If he falls in the draft he could be a good player to stash until he is ready.