Chapman, Cueto given time to step back as Reds prepare for playoffs

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With the Reds in first place, they have a couple weeks to get Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman right. My colleague Dan Wade took a look at the data -- PitchFX and the Injury Database -- to look for clues as to the potential payoff to the Reds' moves:

"This time of year, the old cliché goes, everyone is hurting. The grind of a long season has set in and even the players who aren't missing time clearly aren't the same players they were three or four months ago. The Reds are dealing with a pair of pitchers who aren't injured -- or at least who have not admitted a specific injury publicly -- but who clearly aren't pitching like the Cy Young candidates many expect them to be. There are signs of pitcher fatigue, the most commonly cited being a loss of velocity. It seems a little off to use Aroldis Chapman as an example of worryingly low velocity, considering he's still averaging better than 95 MPH on his fastball, but as this velocity graph shows, he's nowhere near where he was earlier in the summer. The Reds have shut Chapman down for the next few days in the hope that he'll recover some of that lost velocity before the playoffs, but their other Cy Young candidate remains in the rotation. (We could see Chapman out for as much as 10 days. -- Will)

"It's tempting to write off Johnny Cueto's slumping form to fatigue as well, but unlike his teammate, his velocity hasn't been appreciably different during his struggles than it was when he was dominating. He's at his best when his arm stays high and his release point doesn't drop, and while that could be due to a tired arm, it's something he battled early in the season as well. The lesson here is that not everything that looks like end-of-season fatigue can be blamed on a dead arm. Cueto's issues look less like an injury or dead arm and more like the bad outings he had late May. While the Reds are likely right to shut Chapman down, especially given their ample lead over a lagging division, Cueto may benefit more from working through his issues and finding his release point again than he would from joining Chapman on the bench."

Fantasy players can use Dan's insights to value Chapman and Cueto better than everyone else. It's hard to take a Cy Young candidate (or two) and bench them, but it's the right play. Powered by The XX's brilliant new album, on to the injuries:

The Yankees have some experience with calf strains. You don't have to think back too far to note how the Yankees managed Derek Jeter's injury in the middle of the 2011 season. The Yankees were cruising along. Jeter was chasing history, but looking his age. Things were different then. While it's easier for the Yankees to replace Teixeira in the lineup than it is their SS, the situation made this a tougher one to manage. Teixeira will be out at least two weeks as the calf strain heals up, but it could be longer ... or shorter. Calf strains are tough, especially if they're lower, down by where the muscle becomes the Achilles tendon. Jeter's injury took three weeks to come back from, and sources tell me these are very comparable injuries. So why shorter time frame? Watch the standings. The Yankees (and Teixeira) will risk a setback if they're against it in the last week or so of the season.

Reports are positive on McCarthy so far. He's walking, talking and doing those activities of daily life that so many of us take for granted, until they're in question. I've received a lot of questions regarding McCarthy, with most of them regarding protective equipment. I won't get back on that soap box today, but I do want to address some other points.

First, yes, McCarthy was concussed, but the concussion was secondary to his other injuries. The concussion protocols are superseded by the more serious, life-threatening injuries. It's basic triage; I can still remember an HC course where one of my instructors said "stop the bleeding before you worry about the break."

The other recurring question has been about the skull fracture itself. The skull is very thick and strong for obvious evolutionary reasons, but there are weaker points. Those usually come at joints between the various bones -- the skull is not one structure -- but with McCarthy, the forces were so high that it didn't matter where it hit. Skull fractures tend to "cup" and "spider." Think of a rock hitting a windshield and you have a pretty accurate picture.

Kemp was back in the lineup on Tuesday, the painkillers, anti-inflammatories, and the therapies working their magic. Of course, the problem is still there. Kemp and the Dodgers medical staff are trying to hold things together with the tools they have available. It's a balance between getting what they can out of him and making sure the damage doesn't get worse. Kemp is going to need a repair, but the more that they can minimize what Dr. Neal ElAttrache has to do in the shoulder, the better for everyone. One-for-three with two strikeouts isn't a good start, and if the performance isn't coming soon, the risk/reward equation is going to have to be re-visited. Fantasy players will have to watch this closely, especially in daily leagues.

Berkman has been fighting degenerating knees all season. He's finally giving up and heading for surgery. There's a lot of speculation about whether this is the last we'll see of Berkman, but the surgery itself will tell us a lot. If Berkman elects to have a cleanup, it could be a signal he's leaving the door open to a 2013 return. If it's a more advanced procedure designed to make sure he can have a normal life, it's less likely. Look for who does the surgery and what he does, though whether he comes back or not, it's been one amazing career for the kid from Canyon.

There are still some confusing elements to what's actually going on with Weaver. The team is saying tendinitis, but that doesn't occur from getting hit. Is there internal swelling that was only discovered after he was hit? Maybe, but the Angels aren't going to give us that kind of detail. Weaver will be back on the mound Thursday in a key game against the Athletics. Getting Weaver back should be a boost, but the uncertainty can't help settle Mike Scioscia's stomach. Weaver's side sessions have gone well enough and he's only missed one start, so stamina shouldn't be too much of an issue. Watch to see if he's got command early.

Kinsler would like to pass on September. He's 6-for-29 so far and missed a game with a sore back. Are those two connected? Maybe. He's also been less sure-handed, which shouldn't have much to do with his back. Kinsler made it through all of '11, but previously he had muscle issues at the end of the season that suggest he wears down a bit. That's understandable given the Texas heat and his hustling, diving style, but the Rangers should be able to handle this with a close eye and some off-days. Ron Washington is in the best position to understand how to keep Kinsler in position to succeed, so we'll see how the manager handles Kinsler over the next week or so. Jurickson Profar gives the Rangers options, short and long-term.

Carpenter might not be done for the season. You might recognize this theme from last year, when the Cards made some late-season whispers that Adam Wainwright could return for the playoffs. He didn't, though things turned out well all around for Wainwright and the Cardinals. Carpenter is coming back from surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome and it's going well. He threw a 70-pitch sim game on Monday with no real issues after. He'll have one more later this week and could start as soon as mid-week of the following week. With the Cards needing spot starts and trying to protect young pitchers like Lance Lynn from overuse, Carpenter's presence is really going to help.

David Price had a good side session Tuesday. He's expected to pitch Friday against the Yankees ... Andy Pettitte will throw a sim game on Wednesday and if things go well, he will slot into the Yankees rotation early next week ... Joe Mauer was scratched from Tuesday's game due to a sore back. I'm watching this one, but the Twins should be very conservative with Mauer (and everyone) without much to play for ... Huston Street is pitching well in side sessions, but the Pads still have some question about his ability to field his position. They don't seem in any rush to activate him ... There's a possibility Mike Napoli could be activated early. The real question is how that change might affect how he's used, or rather, how the Rangers plan to use him the rest of the season. Hint: Much less catching ... Adam Dunn will rest until the Sox's medical staff is confident there won't be a recurrence. If this was June, he'd likely be on the DL ... Mike Morse had his wrist checked out. The Nats will use their lead to buy Morse and others some rest ... Jason Hammel left his Tuesday start early with a knee problem. The O's will have to adjust if he's going to miss a start and could get creative soon ... Anthony Rizzo had a nasty collision with Brett Wallace. He's sore, but not too injured. We'll see how quickly he comes back, but the Cubs likely will be very conservative with him ... Dee Gordon was activated by the Dodgers. He won't get his SS slot back, but he could pick up some steals as a pinch-runner ... Ramon Hernandez strained his hamstring and will miss at least a few days. That will get Wilin Rosario off the bench, but not out of the doghouse ... Ryan Roberts left Tuesday's game with a forearm strain ... Carlos Quentin is having more trouble with his right knee. He'll miss a couple games, but the knee hasn't been right all season ... I can't make a good argument against Ryan Braun for MVP right now.