Fantasy baseball News & Notes: It's a risky time to own Ryan Braun
In our daily fantasy baseball news and notes column, we'll be discussing hot topics in the fantasy baseball world, as well as offering up tidbits of information to help you set your lineup. Any and all comments are welcome below.
Ryan Braun is a five-tool talent who averaged 34 homers and 107 RBI over his first six seasons. He's resilient, unflappable and dependable -- at least when he's healthy. But that's the problem. Braun has a nerve issue in his right thumb that makes it difficult for him to grip a bat and throw a baseball. The injury has been festering since last season and he sat out Saturday's game against the Red Sox to let it rest. Up until that point, Braun had just one hit this season.
A nerve injury that can prevent a player from swinging the bat the way he wants? His owners had every reason to be terrified. But here's where his owners are catching a little bit of a break: as meddlesome as this nerve issue is, there doesn't appear to be an easy way to fix it (False positive, right?). In a recent interview, Braun said that for a while, one of the avenues suggested by doctors was to remove the nerve entirely, a route that would leave him unable to feel anything in his right thumb ever again. And while there are apparently new options to repair the nerve, none of them are sure things.
So for now, Braun is going to try to play through the pain. He was back on the field Sunday and went 2-4 with a stolen base -- an important outing given that this was the first time all year that he looked like his old self. (It also raised his average to .150.)
If I had any advice to Braun owners, it's to stay the course... for now. Most players would be severely hampered by an injury like this, and yes, Braun hasn't looked all that good so far. But I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he can manage the pain for now. This isn't to say that I'm giddy about his long-term prospects; I think if his owners can somehow find a way to swing him for a similar elite outfielder (McCutchen, CarGo, etc.), they should make that move in a heartbeat. Even though Braun should be fine for now, he's a liability, and if the Brewers aren't in postseason contention by the end of the year, he probably isn't going to help you much in the fantasy playoffs.
And now, here's the totally-generic part of The Daily where I analyze some performances that caught my attention. I call it...
For Your Consideration
• Jose Veras is technically the Cubs closer, but he was awful when the Cubs threw him out there in the ninth inning Sunday. He allowed four walks in two-thirds of an inning, and had to be bailed out by Pedro Strop, who, it's worth noting, picked up a save only a few days ago while Veras was resting. Veras is widely pegged as someone who's likely to be traded down the line, so his odds of finishing out the year as the Cubs' closer are already slim. Now, he has a 16.20 ERA, while Strop, Chicago's incumbent closer from a year ago, is scoreless through 3.1 innings. You can see where this going... Neither man is all that enticing, as the Cubs aren't exactly a goldmine for save situations. But if you're in dire need of a closer and are looking to the waiver wire, Strop looks like the guy to own.
• Are you ready to live in a world where Chris Colabello leads the majors in RBI? The Twins outfielder picked up 4 more of them on Sunday and now has 11 on the year (10 more than Albert Pujols). He's batting cleanup for the Twins and is getting everyday action, so I won't completely poo-poo him, if only because he could be useful to those in deeper leagues. But, it's hard to get too excited over a 30-year-old sophomore hitting in the middle of the one of the weakest lineups in baseball.
• Melky Cabrera took CC Sabathia deep and has now hit homers in three straight games. Before he was derailed by injuries and steroids, Cabrera had a two-year stretch in Kansas City and San Francisco where he was a top-30 roto player. Right now, he's batting leadoff in a great Blue Jays lineup (that doesn't have a lot of left-handers, which means Melky's poised to stay near the top of it), and he's hitting .323. He's an awesome add right now.
• Mike Moustakas has yet to get a hit this season, but I'll give him this: Moustakas only has two strikeouts so far this year, and in general, he has pretty good plate discipline, which is pretty weird for a guy who's a lifetime .241 hitter. It's even weirder that Moustakas' numbers last year were way off from what he did in 2012, even though he really reduced his strikeouts. He's a major talent and is only 25 years old, but he's simply impossible to recommend right now.
• A more interesting middle infielder is shortstop Yangerveris Solarte, who will soon have third-base eligibility. Solarte is getting regular playing time with the Yankees and should be in their lineup everyday, now that Mark Teixeira is on the DL. Solarte's minor league stats don't leap off the page at all; he showed no power and no speed, and was only an average hitter, and sure enough, he has neither a steal nor a homer six games into the year. But, hey, he's hitting .471. If you're pining for a short-term utility man, he might be for you.
• Nathan Eovaldi was terrific against the Padres and now holds a glitzy 14/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He'll have his ups and downs, but you could definitely do worse.
You can follow David Pincus on Twitter @Reetae_, if you're a masochist.