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Around the League - Fantasy Baseball Update 4/4

Kevin Nielsen provides a weekly fantasy update for injuries, lineup news, closer news, rotation news and various other related topics, covering all 30 MLB teams.

MIL RP Jim Henderson
MIL RP Jim Henderson

New York Yankees

Hiroki Kuroda tried to catch Shane Victorino's line drive last night, resulting in him leaving the game with pain in his right middle finger. X-rays were negative and Kuroda shouldn't miss any time. Phil Hughes should make his first start of the season for the Yankees on April 11th at Cleveland. Ty Hensley, the Yankees 2012 1st Round Pick, will miss 2-3 months with a hip injury. There isn't an exact timetable for Derek Jeter's return to the Yankees but I have a feeling he won't be back until at least mid-May. Eduardo Nunez will continue to be a strong SS or MI play at least until Jeter's return and he stole his first base of the season last night.

Baltimore Orioles

It looks as though Nick Markakis will bat leadoff against LHP and third against RHP. Nate McLouth, not Brian Roberts, will move into the leadoff spot vs. righties. Dylan Bundy is on the minor league DL with an elbow issue but it's not considered to be something serious as of right now.

Tampa Bay Rays

Shelley Duncan should get plenty of at-bats at designated hitter with Luke Scott set to miss about a month. Duncan hit a HR last night off of right-handed reliever Luis Ayala and is in the lineup today against a RHP so he isn't in a platoon for the time being. Duncan could make for a useful cheap power source in AL-Only leagues.

Toronto Blue Jays

Brett Lawrie is expected to return from his rib injury in a couple of weeks. J.P. Arencibia won't be catching R.A. Dickey, at least for the time being, after struggling through Dickey's opening day start. Henry Blanco will catch Dickey's next outing.

Boston Red Sox

David Ortiz should return to the Red Sox around April 15th unless he experiences a setback. Stephen Drew should be able to return on April 8th. It's an extremely small sample size but it's worth noting that Jose Iglesias went 5-9 at the plate over the first couple of games as Drew's replacement. If Iglesias consistently shows that he can hit for average he will likely emerge as the superior option to Drew due to Iglesias' amazing defensive ability.

Detroit Tigers

Phil Coke blew a save yesterday against the Twins. RHB hit .396 off of Coke last season. I really doubt Coke is going to end up with more than 10 saves for the entire season. The Tigers just signed Jose Valverde to a minor league deal and he's worth a pickup if you have the space on your bench.

Chicago White Sox

There is still no timetable for John Danks return. He will pitch in minor league games as he continues to strive to regain his form after shoulder surgery. I believe Hector Santiago will emerge as a superior rotation candidate to Dylan Axelrod if Danks can't return in a reasonable amount of time.

Kansas City Royals

Miguel Tejada will be a backup infielder for the Royals. He's not expected to play much and isn't likely to produce much fantasy value if he does play but if Chris Getz gets injured you never know. Jarrod Dyson will get the start over Lorenzo Cain today. If you play in a league with daily transactions and lineups he's someone to constantly keep an eye on. When he's in the lineup he's an extremely strong SB threat.

Cleveland Indians

Trevor Bauer may be called up to start against the Rays this Saturday due to Scott Kazmir's abdomen strain. If Bauer gets the start and he pitches well it's possible the Indians will leave him in the major league rotation for the time being. Kazmir could be placed on the DL.

Minnesota Twins

For now, Joe Mauer will bat second followed by Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau, and Ryan Doumit. Aaron Hicks will occupy the leadoff spot.

Oakland A's

Jed Lowrie is going to be really valuable if he can stay healthy this season. So far, the A's have him batting second against LHP and fifth against RHP. This should help him produce plenty of RBI and Runs while getting plenty of at-bats. Dan Straily will start Friday against the Astros and then will likely be sent down to AAA. Bartolo Colon will get the nod Saturday against the Astros. Each of them make for every strong streaming plays this week. Do not consider Chris Young a strict platoon starter. He hit a HR yesterday against a right-handed reliever and is in the lineup today against a RHP. If Young continues to be productive when he's in the lineup his playing time should increase proportionally.

Los Angeles Angels

Ryan Madson will not return to the Angels until at least sometime in May. If Ernesto Frieri is successful in the closer's role then Madson should return in a set-up capacity, at least at first.

Texas Rangers

Yu Darvish is dealing with a blister but he should be fine to start this Sunday against the Angels.

Seattle Mariners

After leading the league in spring training HR, Michael Morse is now the MLB leader in HR with 3 in his first three games. One of my bold predictions had Morse hitting 30+ HR and he's off to a great start. Erasmo Ramirez, sent down to AAA to begin the season, is now on the DL. The injury probably isn't anything serious but check for updates as new details emerge. If the Mariners need to call up a SP, the first in line will likely now be Danny Hultzen.

Houston Astros

Rick Ankiel will start in right field against RHP. He already has HR and should make for a decent low-average cheap power source.

Washington Nationals

Kurt Suzuki and Wilson Ramos are likely to split time evenly. If one of them starts to get hot at the plate I expect that to change in a hurry. Christian Garcia has begun throwing. He would be another dominant reliever in that Nationals bullpen if he could just stay healthy.

Atlanta Braves

Jonny Venters won't pitch for about the next month. He's dealing with an elbow injury and there's certainly a possibility he could end up requiring surgery at some point. Jordan Walden is now the potential handcuff to Craig Kimbrel.

Philadelphia Phillies

Delmon Young could return to the Phillies in the beginning of May if he continues to make progress.

New York Mets

Shaun Marcum is on the DL and we'll likely know more about his timetable soon. He'll be examined by a doctor today. Aaron Laffey will probably take his spot in the rotation for now. Frank Francisco should be ready for a rehab assignment soon and he could return to a set-up role in the Mets bullpen by the end of the month. For those of you wondering, with Jeremy Hefner now replacing Johan Santana and Laffey replacing Marcum, Collin McHugh would probably be the next in line should the Mets need an addition starter. I don't foresee them calling up a top prospect like Zack Wheeler or Rafael Montero until late May or early June at the earliest. A Chris Young signing could potentially be on the horizon.

Miami Marlins

Greg Dobbs will play some first base while Kotchman recovers from a mild hamstring injury. Kotchman shouldn't miss much more than a few games but keep checking for updates. The Marlins top 3 positional prospects, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, and Jake Marisnick will all begin the season on the minor league DL. Ozuna and Marisnick each are suffering from a broken hand while Yelich has a foot injury that will keep him out for at least a couple of weeks. I found this information on John Sickels' website, You can find the exact story here.

Cincinnati Reds

Sean Marshall is suffering from a tired shoulder but the injury isn't considered to be serious at this point. As you probably already know, Ryan Ludwick will miss at least three months with an elbow injury. Chris Heisey will replace Ludwick for now. Ray Guilfoyle wrote a great piece yesterday on him, you can find it here. Heisey will bat second for the time being while Brandon Phillips will slide into the cleanup spot. I think that if either Heisey struggles or if Choo struggles in center-field and Billy Hamilton is performing well in AAA then he will be called up. Keep a close eye to see how this situation develops. Hamilton is worth a speculative add in deep leagues immediately if you have the bench space.

St. Louis Cardinals

David Freese might be able to return on Monday, April 8th. If not, he should be back with the Cardinals by next weekend. He'll play in some extended spring training games this weekend. There is still no timetable for Jason Motte to start throwing again. Mitchell Boggs remains the closer while Trevor Rosenthal is likely next in line.

Milwaukee Brewers

Kyle Lohse will make his first start tomorrow against Arizona. Jim Henderson will likely be first in line for save chances if John Axford loses his job. Axford has already given up 3 HR with a blown save thus far. I remain optimistic about Axford keeping his job and producing but he's going to have to obviously pitch a lot better than this and it's definitely necessary to handcuff him with Jim Henderson right now. Carlos Gomez has been batting seventh to begin the season. This is disappointing because Alex Gonzalez and Martin Maldonado have been batting in front of him in the lineup. Hopefully he can pick things up at the plate but he won't be hitting any better than seventh when Corey Hart returns anyway.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Francisco Liriano will likely be able to join the starting rotation sometime in early May. Gaby Sanchez started the first three games of the season at 1B but he's going to have to hit to stay in the lineup. If not, Garret Jones will be moved back to 1B and that will create more playing time for Jose Tabata, Travis Snider, and maybe even Alex Presley.

Chicago Cubs

Dave Sappelt may end up in a platoon with Davis Dejesus in center-field. Carlos Marmol has been terrible but he's still the closer, for now. Kyuji Fujikawa is next in line for saves and came into the game on opening day to bail out Marmol and earn the save. This situation is red-hot and if Fujikawa isn't owned in your league then you should change that. Darwin Barney should only miss a couple of weeks with his knee injury. Brent Lillibridge will replace him in the meantime. Matt Garza still could return in mid to late May.

San Francisco Giants

Pablo Sandoval looks all better from his elbow strain and hit a HR off of Josh Beckett last night. Brandon Belt is suffering from an illness and missed the past couple of games but should be fine for Friday but check for updates. Brett Pill is going to begin a rehab assignment and should within a couple of weeks.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Kevin Gregg was granted his release. Chad Billingsley will make a rehab start today while Ted Lilly will make a rehab start on Friday. Each could potentially be ready to return after a couple of starts, likely creating a logjam.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Eric Chavez got hit in the hand by a pitch last night but it's unknown at this point if the injury is serious. Adam Eaton remains likely to return in the middle of May.

San Diego Padres

Chase Headley should return to the Padres lineup in about a month. Andrew Cashner pitched well last night with 2+ innings of scoreless relief. His time in the rotation can't come soon enough for his fantasy owners.

Colorado Rockies

Jhoulys Chacin rewarded his fantasy owners with a solid opening day start against the talented Brewers lineup. If he can return to his 2010-2011 form then he'll be worth owning, at least outside of Coors Field.