THE BIG HURT: Hurt file, August 14-19

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 (August 7-12)


August 19, 2019

Sean Doolittle (LHP, WAS) – R knee tendinitis (8/17/19)
The data is limited, as this is not a common injury for pitchers. The recovery time for hitters is 3-8 weeks, while the one pitcher in our database returned in two weeks. For civilians, the recovery is about 6 weeks, though civilians aren’t paid millions to win baseball games. A 2-3 week estimate seems correct, with some risk it could go longer.
2019 Impact: Elevated risk
Est. Return: Early/mid-September

Joey Votto (1B, CIN) – Back strain (8/14/19)
The return time depends on the severity, though even a mild strain can take up to 6 weeks. We’re not quite ready to call his season over, but his August probably is.
2019 Impact: Variable recovery time; elevated risk
Est. Return: Early September

Chris Sale (LHP, BOS) – L elbow inflammation (8/15/19)
He will visit Dr. Andrews, and those visits rarely end well. We don’t assume anything truly bad until it’s confirmed, but that’s a definite possibility. Given his injury and the Red Sox freefall in the standings, it’s unlikely that he pitches again this year.
2019 Impact: Probably out for the year
Est. Return: Mid-September or 2020 (or beyond)

Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. (3B, TOR) – L knee inflammation (8/16/19)
The MRI didn’t show anything specific, making tendinitis a likely suspect. He expects to return soon, but you can never count on a player’s self-assessment. He’ll likely return in a few days, but there’s a minor probability that he needs some IL time.
2019 Impact: Elevated risk; possibility of IL time
Est. Return: August 21-25

Ender Inciarte (OF, ATL) – R hamstring strain (8/16/19)
This is a Grade 2 strain, so Ender’s game could be done for 2019. The recovery time is 4-6 weeks, so there’s a chance he returns in late September. However, if he pushed himself to return early, there’s a strong chance of re-injury.
2019 Impact: Elevated risk; risk of recurrence
Est. Return: Mid-/late September, if at all


August 17, 2019

Jameson Taillon (RHP, PIT) – R elbow/forearm surgery (8/14/19)
He had Tommy John surgery and also had his flexor tendon repaired. This is his second TJS (the first was in 2014), and the odds are not great. About a third of pitchers with a second TJS never make it back, and about half have lasted less than 30 innings after their return. There are some notable exceptions, such as Chris Capuano and Tyler Chatwood, but they are far more exception than rule. Age isn’t a huge factor, either, as fewer than 60% of pitchers under 30 reached the 30+ innings mark. Unless you can keep him at zero cost (including the roster spot itself), move on.
2019, 2020 Impact: Out
2021 Impact: Extreme risk; high chance he does not return for meaningful innings

Fernando Tatis, Jr. (SS, SD) – Lower back strain (8/14/19)
As a Tatis owner, we feel your pain. This initially seemed like a rather mild strain, which usually takes 2-3 weeks to heal, but now he’s expected to miss the rest of the season. The Padres are not in the playoff running, so there’s no reason to rush him back, and with only six weeks left, they may as well just let him get healed.
2019 Impact: Out for the season
Est. Return: 2020

Ian Kinsler (2B, SD) – Neck, herniated disk (8/12/19)
Bet against any meaningful playing time the rest of the way. A herniated disk is likely to take 3-6 weeks to heal, and he already hasn’t started a game in nearly a month. There’s a good chance he ends the season on the IL.
2019 Impact: Effectively done as a fantasy option
Est. Return: Mid-/late September, maybe

Robbie Ray (LHP, ARI) – Back spasms (8/14/19)
Back spasms have an underlying cause, usually a muscle strain. The MRI didn’t show anything more than that, so we’ll treat this as a strain. He’s likely out 2-3 weeks.
2019 Impact: Elevated risk; Risk of recurrence
Est. Return: Early September

Gerrit Cole (RHP, HOU) – R hamstring strain (8/7/19)
He’s not on the IL and will likely pitch in a couple of days. Keep in mind, though, that even a mild tear needs 2-3 weeks to fully heal and he’s at risk for further injury until he gets to that point, even if he is symptom-free.
2019 Impact: Elevated risk in the near term
Est. Return: August 19-21 (best estimate)

Austin Riley (OF, ATL) – R knee, torn LCL (8/6/19) UPDATE
First covered here; word is that he won’t need surgery. That’s good news for both Riley and fantasy GMs. We’re revising our estimates.
2019 Impact: High risk
Est. Return: Early September


August 14, 2019

Michael Chavis (2B, BOS) – L shoulder sprain (8/6/19)
He sprained his AC joint (where the collarbone meets the tip of the shoulder blade) last week, tried to play through it, and realized that he needed some recovery time. The team expects him back right around the minimum 10 days. That's a reasonable time for the pain and swelling to dissipate, though complete healing can take about six weeks. That leaves the joint less stable and more prone to injury when he first returns. It increases his risk, but shouldn't have much of an effect on his hitting.
2019 Impact: Elevated risk
Est. Return: Late August

Tommy Pham (OF, TAM) – R hand sprain (7/28/19)
Even a mild sprain takes 2-3 weeks to heal, and he was only out for four days after the original injury. He played for about a week, then apparently either aggravated or re-injured it on Aug. 9. It's his top (power) hand that's affected, so Pham owners should probably prefer IL time; otherwise, he's likely to scuffle for a few weeks until he's pain free. We're projecting an IL trip, since that seems to be the most likely course.
2019 Impact: Elevated risk; possible reduced output
Est. Return: Late August, if he hits the IL (best estimate)

Aaron Hicks (OF, NYY) – R forearm, flexor strain (8/4/19) UPDATE
He won't throw at all for two more weeks. Our original estimate still holds, but it's looking more like it will be towards the back end of that estimate.
2019 Impact: Elevated risk
Est. Return: Early/mid-September

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