Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez has stormed into early-round consideration in fantasy leagues on the strength of an amazing 87-game sample in which he hit .313/.412/.655 with 27 home runs while winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award. However, that momentum has screeched to a halt in recent days due to some uncertainty regarding his left knee.
The hope was that Alvarez would be able to return to Grapefruit League action on Wednesday, but Astros GM James Click announced Tuesday that they are “backing it up to Friday.” That’s assuming he makes progress in the next couple of days, which is no sure thing. Alvarez’s knee issue actually dates back to last season, so that it’s still giving him issues should be a legitimate concern.
Just to put things in perspective, Alvarez fell all the way to No. 84 in Tuesday’s Rotoword Live Fantasy Baseball Draft. You can watch it in full here. I was happy to take the risk at that point, but clearly folks are feeling uneasy right now.
If you’re looking from any guidance from Click or Astros manager Dusty Baker in terms of Alvarez’s readiness for Opening Day, you’re out of luck. They were both vague about the timeline on Tuesday, perhaps understandably. If Alvarez isn’t ready, at least Kyle Tucker’s at-bats should be safe out of the gate. Always look on the bright side on life.
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Oh no, Conforto
You know an easy way to make a baseball fan cringe? Just say oblique strain. That’s what Mets fans are dealing with right now, as outfielder Michael Conforto has a right oblique strain which has thrown his status for the start of the regular season in serious doubt.
Conforto suffered the injury while making a catch in right field during Saturday’s Grapefruit League game. He was sent for an MRI when symptoms lingered and the Mets confirmed the diagnosis following an examination with Dr. David Altchek in New York.
Conforto is set to be reevaluated in a week, but Opening Day is only two weeks away and these sorts of injuries are notoriously tricky, sometimes sidelining players for a month or two. The severity of this specific injury isn’t yet clear, but Opening Day might be an unrealistic expectation.
Assuming Conforto misses time, the Mets figure to roll with some combination of Brandon Nimmo, J.D. Davis, Dominic Smith, and Jake Marisnick across their outfield. Yoenis Cespedes still has a ways to go in his rehab from ankle and heel injuries, so he’s a complete wild card. The Mets also have the option of moving Jeff McNeil back to the outfield while playing Davis at third base, but it’s unlikely they’ll go that way if Conforto will have a relatively short absence.
Well Hello, Mr. Kopech
Young talent with the White Sox isn’t exclusive to the hitting side. We saw overwhelming evidence of that on Tuesday afternoon as Michael Kopech blew away the Rangers in his first appearance since undergoing Tommy John surgery following his first four major league starts in September of 2018.
Kopech only threw one inning, but it was a perfect one in which he notched one strikeout and lit up the radar gun. In fact, he topped 100 mph in six out of his 11 pitches. That’s not a typo. Some of that was likely adrenaline given the circumstances, but velocity has always been his calling card. If anything, it was a fun sneak preview of what we’ll likely see in the majors in the very near future.
The expectation is that Kopech will begin the season in the minors as he continues to get stretched out, but he’ll surely find his way to the White Sox early on during the first half if all goes well. For what it’s worth, Kopech has an ADP of 287.68 in NFBC drafts completed since February 1. He makes sense as a late-round stash depending on the format.
Quick Hits: Max Scherzer was limited to long-tossing on Tuesday due to what he referred to as an “ailment” on his right side, though he still expects to make his next start on Sunday … Bryce Harper was diagnosed with a bruised left toe after being hit by a pitch on Tuesday, but he expects to be back in the lineup Friday … Already sidelined with a minor back injury, Gary Sanchez has tested positive for the flu and will be reevaluated when he returns to Yankees’ camp on Friday … Rockies manager Bud Black said Tuesday that he’s “strongly” considering using David Dahl out of the leadoff spot … Gerrit Cole fanned six batters while allowing one run over 3 1/3 innings against the Blue Jays on Tuesday … Freddie Freeman was a late scratch from Tuesday’s Grapefruit League lineup due to a family matter … Jack Flaherty spun three scoreless frames against the Red Sox on Tuesday in his latest spring training tuneup … Javier Baez continued his red-hot spring against the Giants on Tuesday by going 3-for-4 with a homer, a double, and three RBI … Willson Contreras went 3-for-3 with a solo homer in a blowout win over the Giants in Cactus League action on Tuesday … Mike Soroka blanked the split-squad Astros over four innings in Grapefruit League action on Tuesday … Giancarlo Stanton (calf) expects to run on the field Wednesday or Thursday … Brandon Woodruff fanned five batters while allowing one run over innings of work Tuesday against the Royals … Zack Wheeler struck out six batters while allowing one run in four innings Tuesday against the Twins … Matthew Boyd continued his strong spring by tossing 4 1/3 innings of one-run ball with five strikeouts against the Pirates on Tuesday … James Paxton (back) is set to resume playing catch on Wednesday … Mike Minor delivered 4 2/3 scoreless innings in Tuesday’s Cactus League victory over the White Sox … Nationals prospect infielder Carter Kieboom fanned three times Tuesday against the Marlins and is now just 6-for-27 (.222) on the spring … Alex Verdugo (back) took 20 swings in the batting cage on Monday … Dylan Bundy struck out five batters while allowing two runs over four innings Tuesday against the Mariners … Johnny Cueto, the Giants’ expected Opening Day starter, was knocked around for five runs on nine hits over 1 2/3 innings on Tuesday … Now likely assured of a rotation spot with the Astros, Josh James allowed three runs and walked three batters over 3 2/3 innings against the Braves on Tuesday … Jordan Montgomery enjoyed a bounceback showing Tuesday against the Blue Jays, striking out five batters over four perfect frames … Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire confirmed Tuesday that Joe Jimenez will be his closer this season … Gabe Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that Johan Camargo is “probably” going to be the regular third baseman for the Braves, beating out Austin Riley … Anthony Santander (shoulder) went 1-for-2 with a homer against the Braves on Tuesday while playing in the outfield for the first time this spring … Ryan O’Hearn slugged his fifth homer of the spring Tuesday against the Brewers … Tyler Chatwood spun 3 2/3 scoreless frames against the Giants on Tuesday as he continues to state his case for a rotation spot with the Cubs … Braves prospect outfielder Cristian Pache slammed a three-run homer against the Orioles on Tuesday … Eric Lauer has been ruled out for the start of the season with a left shoulder impingement, leaving Freddy Peralta, Corbin Burnes, and Shelby Miller as the candidates for the fifth spot in the Brewers’ rotation … Mariners prospect right-hander Logan Gilbert continued his strong spring on Tuesday with three strikeouts over two scoreless innings against the Angels … Braves prospect right-hander Ian Anderson notched two strikeouts over three scoreless innings Tuesday against the Orioles … Trayce Thompson went 2-for-3 with his fourth homer of the spring Tuesday against the Reds.