Every year, I get asked the same question about this time. "Are there more injuries?" This year, in one specific area, the answer is yes and it's significant. Closers are falling, quickly.
It's no particular type, but it highlights the fact that we don't have any tools to monitor relievers' fatigue. Even the oversimplified pitch count doesn't help. There's no PAP, no innings limit, no real data on usage and recovery. Teams are left asking, "Can you go?" and most do nothing more technical than that.
As the game has evolved and the closer has become more and more specialized, pitchers have adjusted. There's no discernible reason that they should all be getting hurt right now and no pattern to follow here. There's no real difference in the usage patterns early in the season between closers and the designated eighth inning guy, so why are those guys not breaking down?
It's a problem in the short term, but over the course of the year, we may see a hit to the modern closer myth. If we lose this many "top level" closers and teams end up with as many saves and one-run wins, there's going to be more fuel for those pushing for a more logical bullpen management algorithm.
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Wilson isn't just heading to see Jim Andrews to have Tommy John surgery. Wilson is heading to Andrews and at least one other doctor (probably David Altchek, who does a slightly different technique) as well as consulting with the Giants ortho, Ken Akizuki.
Sources tell me that Wilson has an incomplete sprain of the UCL, a tearing that is at or near the threshold for repair. Wilson had Tommy John surgery in college, so like several others, this will be a repeat.
Tim Kremchek, who has done a number of repeats on athletes like Scott Williamson, Chad Fox and Jose Rijo, doesn't believe that a repeat is significantly different or has a lower chance of success. In fact, one top therapist that I spoke with in regards to Joakim Soria believes there may be an advantage, in that the athlete knows the rehab process and succeeded at least once before.
Wilson had problems with his elbow at the end of last season and even
Knowing that Ellsbury had a shoulder subluxation is something, but it doesn't tell us much. A subluxation is like a "dislocation lite" -- the head of the humerus comes out of its normal position, then pops back in. That's the mechanism, but the real problem is what happened during the trip.
Think about Martin Riggs in
The mechanism -- having a large SS land on an outstretched arm -- makes it difficult to get a good comparable. Function will be the key, so when we see Ellsbury running, throwing and swinging, it shouldn't be long after that we'll see him back on the field.
The Sox won't rush Crawford because of the injury to Ellsbury. They can't given that when he started gearing up from his wrist surgery, he immediately strained his elbow. A flexor strain isn't as serious for Crawford as it is for someone like Scott Baker, but it's not good. That a cascade injury happened so quickly is a big worry, but the Sox will understand this. The elbow won't be a huge problem for Crawford at home since LF is so short, but watch for teams to test him early. Crawford should play in games shortly. They'll wait to see him hit since confidence will be an issue. The Sox know Crawford doesn't need to go through another slow start.
Wright came back on Saturday and immediately hit a home run. That's good. It means he can grip a bat and that he and the team made a good decision keeping him off the DL. Wright's finger looked good in X-rays, and while not healed, it is healing. As good as the homer was, the 3-for-5 was better since grip-strength issues can show up in fine bat control more than in power. The road ahead looks good for Wright, or as good as it can be with a broken finger. The Mets need to be careful, but the medical staff seems to have handled this one perfectly.
Burnett is scheduled to make a rehab start for Indianapolis (AAA) on Monday evening, though rain is in the forecast. Burnett is coming back from a fractured orbital and is well ahead of the conservative schedule. His first outing at Bradenton (A) was solid, but Triple A will be more of a test.
Assuming Burnett can get through six innings and his reported 85-pitch limit, it's likely that he'd be activated for his next start. It's unclear when that would be, more for reasons of the rotation than anything. Monday is scheduled to be Erik Bedard, but there's an off-day Thursday. That could make Charlie Morton's slot the likely place for Burnett, though the Pirates would need to juggle and may just slot Burnett in, giving everyone else an extra day's rest.
Hudson will make the short trip over to Gwinnett (AAA) next Wednesday. He's not starting off easily, wanting to go 90 pitches. He's been working in extra spring training and has had no issues with his back post-surgery, but it's still an aggressive plan.
Hudson won't make more than two rehab starts if it goes to plan, meaning he'd be back right at the end of the month. The Braves have the depth, even after dealing Derek Lowe, to be more conservative with Hudson, but in what might be the last year of his career, it'll hard to hold him back.
The Twins took one big hit this week, losing Scott Baker for the season. Losing a second pitcher might break their already
We have to assume that Blackburn doesn't have significant swelling or weakness in the shoulder a couple of days after the problem. The Twins don't seem to be looking for a backup plan here, which is either confident or stupid. We'll find out soon which it is.