Fantasy Baseball 2011: NL Central Injury Rebounds

The Brewers are going all in this year so it should be interesting in the Central. Adam Wainwright's injury hurts the Cardinals chances and the Reds will be relying on a few injury prone starters to help them repeat as division champs. The Cubs made some upgrades over the winter but probably not enough to compete while the Astros  and Pirates could stay 100% healthy and would probably remain in the basement. Ouch. A look at some key players returning from injury filled 2010s after the jump.

Edinson Volquez - Volquez was inconsistent in his return from Tommy John and 2011 will be the real test of his health. If he can remain healthy all year he's a great pick-up with more than a K per inning and a strong lineup that will provide plenty of wins. He could be in line for a season that will have him back among the game's top fantasy starting pitchers.

Tyler Colvin - A freak injury where a bat shard pierced his lung put an end to his breakout rookie season. The injury shouldn't have any lasting effects so he should return to his power hitting ways in 2011. Colvin could give owners 25 HR with an AVG in the .250 range.

David Freese - Freese was a nice looking prospect heading into 2010 but he failed to put up the kind of production fantasy hoped for before hitting the DL with an ankle injury. The Cardinals are taking things slow with him so far in spring training so owners hoping to have him at the start of the year should look elsewhere. He showed power in the minors but it has yet to show up in the majors and he has quite a few things to work on before he can be a productive major leaguer.

Homer Bailey - Right shoulder inflammation caused Bailey's breakout season to be cut short but he should be ready to pick up where he left off at the start of the 2011 season. The shoulder inflammation is worth monitoring as it could be a sign of a bigger problem but until more evidence comes forward you can bid confidently on one of the game's top pitching break out candidates.

Bud Norris - Arm issues caused Norris to miss a month in 2010 and hopefully he can prove to be healthy in 2011 because the kid has some fantasy upside. He strikes out over a batter per inning but will need to get his control in order if he wants to be an effective major leaguer. Any more arm issues could further delay his progress keeping him from his true potential and may result in a move to the bullpen which would seriously hurt any fantasy value.

JA Happ - Happ appeared fully recovered from a forearm strain that sidelined him at the start of 2010 and continued to prove his nay-sayers wrong by being a legitimate fantasy option even while pitching for Houston. His underlying  stats suggest he may have been lucky so proceed with caution but he has a good track record in the minors to back up his major league success.

Geovany Soto - He has the power and the AVG to join the top 5 catchers in the game but unfortunately he doesn't have the health. We will have to see how the offseason shoulder surgery affects his swing and whether he can keep it healthy. He's a risky pick but could reward owners especially if there is a solid back up option to rack up points when Soto hits the DL.

Lance Berkman - An ageing slugger with recent leg issues including knee surgery doesn't seem like the best candidate for a starting position in the outfield but that's just what the Cardinals signed Berkman to do. With the added toll on his body don't expect Berkman to play a full season.

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