I've been working on a theory this season. It says that players these days are, for whatever reason, not returning from long absences with ready-for-baseball bodies. Whether this is due to fewer amphetamines, or worse conditioning, or simply the vagaries of life, something is causing just-got-healthy guys to become just-got-hurt-again guys with alarming regularity.
Derek Jeter. Mark Teixeira. Alex Rodriguez. Curtis Granderson. Matt Kemp. Hanley Ramirez. Johnny Cueto. Daniel Hudson. Carlos Ruiz. Brett Anderson. Angel Pagan. Cameron Maybin. Joel Hanrahan. It's a lengthy list, and each of those guys either got re-injured or suffered a setback either in rehab or shortly after their returns. You could form a heck of a roster just from guys who fit these qualifications.
Now, there is almost certainly a good bit of confirmation bias there, and injuries like Granderson's were fluky as all get-out, but I simply can't remember a year with so many "guy just off the DL pulled a muscle and went back on"-type stories. Feel free to correct me in the comments if I'm wrong, or to offer a hypothesis for the phenomenon if I'm right, because it strikes me as potentially meaningful.
In years past, if someone like Larry Walker came off the DL, you knew you could slot him right back in your lineup and that was that. But if what I've observed is a real thing, then we might need to adjust our expectations going forward, and be prepared for more on-again-off-again DL stints.
Or I'm just imagining things. I dunno. Anyway, here is the injury report:
Albert Pujols, LAA
I guess we had to have seen this coming, sooner or later. Anyone who has seen Pujols try to run this year has cringed and turned away, like he was that one super-drunk guy at open-mic stand-up comedy night. It sucks to see an all-time great dissolve like this, and it looks like Pujols-who hit the DL Sunday-is missing a lot of time. Maybe even a full year.
Brandon Beachy, Paul Maholm, Tim Hudson, ATL
I've had Beachy on the DL on two of my rosters all season. I am not entirely convinced he'll be 2012's "best ERA in the league" Beachy at this point, both because of my concerns above and his high walk rate in AAA (5.40 BB/9). On the other hand, with Maholm and Hudson out (Maholm with a left wrist contusion, isn't officially on the DL yet, but will go soon; Hudson is out for the year with nastiness you undoubtedly saw and therefore I needn't link to it), the concerns about whether Beachy or Kris Medlen or whoever would end up in the bullpen seem negated. Beachy, Medlen, Julio Teheran, Mike Minor, and Alex Wood appear to be the team's five starters going forward, which, if all pitch to potential, should be fine without a by-the-trading-deadline deal. Anyway, I've sat on Beachy this long - I've gotta see this thing through.
Ryan Ludwick, CIN
Analysis based on small samples is a fool's errand; acknowledging quirks based on small samples is delightful. To wit: Ryan Ludwick currently has a 356 wRC+ this season, which would set all sorts of records if he qualified. Of course, since Ludwick set that number by walking in his only two plate appearances of the season before injuring his shoulder, he's...pretty far from qualifying for the batting title. So the 356 is meaningless, but it's fun to pretend those numbers are worth something. Anyway, Ludwick has started a rehab stint. It's likely to be closer to the maximum stay, so...second week of August, give or take, is the earliest you're likely to see him, but if he can hit like he has in the past, that could be a heck of a late-season addition or DL return.
Domonic Brown, PHI
Brown was placed on the seven-day concussion DL Thursday. He is expected to be re-evaluated Monday, so we'll know more about his anticipated return shortly. That said, Brown's slugging percentage has fallen steadily since his ridiculously powerful May; he slugged .688 in that crazy month, followed by .537 in June and .471 in July. He's still having a perfectly fine year, just don't go expecting records broken. (On the flip side, do you remember that crazy note from May, when Brown homered 12 times with zero walks? If you take May out of his stats, he has nearly a 2:1 K:BB ratio on the year, which is totally respectable. No idea what that means, but it's interesting.)
Jason Grilli, PIT
I've spent most of July in the car (slight exaggeration, I suppose, but I have logged more than 7,000 miles), which means I've had to follow along with a lot of baseball news via Twitter. So Monday night, I just assumed Grilli's arm had fallen clean off mid-pitch, Tony Saunders style, based on the reactions of various baseball folks on social media. So the fact that it's been diagnosed as merely a flexor strain, and he's out only four-eight weeks, as opposed to the multiple-forevers it sounded like, is a good thing, assuming that is all it ends up being. In the meantime, Mark Melancon, which everyone should have owned already just on the off chance he got saves eventually, is a must-add, and is (for me) a top-five closer while he has the job.
Brandon Morrow, TOR
Out for the year. Sigh. Maybe this is the year I am finally done with Morrow. Or maybe I need more therapy.
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