So, in a lot of head-to-head fantasy leagues, the playoffs are starting this week, including my primary league. I've got a first-round matchup against the league commissioner, a guy whose roster includes Joe Mauer, David Wright, Starling Marte, Derek Jeter, Miguel Cabrera, and Hyun-Jin Ryu, who have combined to injure every body part twice in that time.
Sounds great, right? But here's the thing: This guy is 23-4-1 in the last two weeks - we're a 7x7 league - and has gone from on the cusp of missing the playoffs to a high seed in those two weeks.
What's the moral of this story? Heck, I don't know. It seems like it would be "fantasy sports are impossible," but that's a really bad moral for a fantasy writer to espouse. And anyway, that guy is still missing those players, so I really should win, shouldn't I? Sigh. The moral is to eat your vegetables or something, I don't know.
Oh! I know! If you have lost players to injury, don't give up hope! You can still get there!
What a good moral.
Anyway, the week's injuries:
Derek Jeter, NYY
Okay, I feel like I've said this several times this season, so for the last time - STOP OWNING DEREK JETER. Look, I get it. He's an all-timer. If you keep him, and he rolls through your playoffs with a bunch of hits and runs, you get to show off about the Jeterness of it all. But...he's hurt again. His left ankle is acting up, and he'll miss at least Monday's game, and maybe (probably?) more after that. The chance of an active, healthy, and productive Jeter existing soon enough to matter is very, very low. There's got to be someone with shortstop eligibility out there for you.
Jason Heyward, ATL
After suffering a broken jaw Aug. 21 when a Jonathan Niese fastball hit him in the face, we all thought Heyward would miss the rest of the regular season, or close to it. In the last day or so, though, the news has been better - he's been cleared to resume baseball activities, and if all goes well over the next few days, it's at least possible Heyward could return to the club by next week. You have to keep expectations low, of course - he'll have missed at least two-three weeks of live action, and it's possibly he'll be delayed between now and then - but this is great news, and a healthy and thriving Heyward could be a big fantasy playoff producer.
Allen Craig, SLC
Allen Craig left Wednesday's 16-inning game with a sprained left foot. At first, it was feared he had fractured the foot and would be lost for the year, but an MRI and X-rays confirmed it was just a sprain. He's already out of his walking boot, and will be re-evaluated Monday, so there's still some news to find out. The Cardinals will likely try to get Craig back as quickly as possible, with Pittsburgh and Cincinnati breathing down their necks, but in the meantime, I really hope you grabbed Matt Adams to replace Craig. Adams is the closest thing baseball has to a handcuff on the offensive side - a heck of a hitter who just had nowhere to play. As long as Craig's out, Adams is nearly a must-start.
Justin Masterson, CLE
It's a bad sign that the most promising headline you can find about the No. 1 pitcher on a team in the playoff hunt is "(Player) may return before end of season." But that is literally the best update I could find about Masterson, after leaving Monday's game with an oblique strain. The Indians are going to give Masterson some time and, if the symptoms clear up, he could return to the rotation, but symptom recurrence will only push his return back. Masterson - who I still haven't totally bought in on, despite a really good year so far - is droppable for those who are streaming pitchers; he's no longer a must-hold-on-to.
Clay Buchholz, BOS
If you've held on to Buchholz all...bleeding...season, you're finally about to be rewarded with an appearance, as Buchholz is scheduled to start Tuesday's game for his first appearance since June 8. He will be limited to 75-80 pitches against Tampa Bay, but if he can come even close to the skills that produced a 9-0 record with a 1.71 ERA earlier this year, it'll be nice to see. I'm skeptical he can do that, but who knows.
Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS
Ellsbury, the major-league stolen-base leader, has been out since Sept. 5 with a compression fracture in his foot. Being a non-displaced fracture should accelerate Ellsbury's healing process, but this is still a foot injury on a guy whose greatest fantasy contribution is his speed. You can't cut him, even with the injury, even with the news he might not be back until near the end of the season, but you shouldn't count on much from him going forward, either. The Red Sox have just about locked up a playoff spot, so their only incentive to rush him back is to get him in playoff shape.
Giancarlo Stanton, MIA
Stanton left Saturday's game with a sore right ankle, and missed Sunday's game. Marlins manager Mike Redmond indicated Stanton would be available as a pinch-hitter, so it sounds like this injury isn't a deal-breaker or anything, but we're at the point in the season where there's little incentive for the going-nowhere Miami team to hurry him back.
Jose Bautista, TOR
If you, like me, lost Bautista to injury and were hoping for his return...stop that. The Blue Jays shut their slugger down until 2014 with a bone bruise in his left hip. Bautista ends the year with a slash line of .259/.358/.498 and 28 home runs, which is respectable, maybe even respectable enough to warrant where he was drafted, but I'm sure we all wanted more.
Joe Mauer, MIN
Mauer, out since Aug. 19 with a concussion, took batting practice Friday and Saturday, indicating he might be drawing nearer to a return. If and when he does, it sounds like it'll be primarily as a first baseman, where it is sounding more like Mauer might be long-term. For next season, that won't pose any sort of position-eligibility issue, as Mauer has done more than enough to qualify at catcher for 2014, but his owners in long-term leagues should be aware that there's at least a chance Mauer's days of being fantasy-eligible at catcher are numbered.
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