Rangers ace Yu Darvish was diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow over the weekend and the worst-case scenario is inevitable at this point. The Rangers announced Wednesday that Dr. David Altchek recommended Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery for Darvish. The tentative plan calls for him to have the surgery next week, but he'll get a third opinion from Dr. James Andrews before it's official. The final decision is expected to be made later this week.
The emphasis is on Darvish to get the surgery out of the way as soon as possible, so he can turn his focus toward getting ready for the early part of the 2016 season. If he went the rest and rehab route and eventually needed Tommy John surgery anyway, he wouldn't just miss all of this season, but next season would be at risk too. And nobody wants that. It just makes sense to get it done now and move forward.
The Darvish situation is a gut-punch for the Rangers, who are hoping to rebound after injuries to key contributors ravaged their roster in 2014 and resulted in a 67-95 record and a last-place finish. However, with Jurickson Profar already ruled out for the season after shoulder surgery and Darvish likely to follow, the string of bad luck has continued.
According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Wednesday that he's not currently talking trades with other teams and will look to internal options to fill Darvish's spot. That's no easy task. Yovani Gallardo, Derek Holland, and Colby Lewis are clear locks in the starting rotation while Ross Detwiler, Nick Tepesch, Anthony Ranaudo, Lisalverto Bonilla, and Alex "Chi Chi" Gonzalez are all in the mix for the final two spots. According to our constantly-updated 2015 Online Rotoworld Draft Guide, Holland is now the top pitcher to own in this rotation.
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Harvey Day, Take Two
While Darvish is likely facing a year-long rehab process from Tommy John surgery, Mets right-hander Matt Harvey continues to gear up for his return. After tossing two perfect and dominant innings in his Grapefruit League debut last Friday against the Nationals, Harvey wasn't nearly as sharp on Wednesday afternoon against the Marlins, allowing two runs on six hits and a walk over 2 2/3 innings.
Harvey topped out at 98 mph with his fastball and mostly sat in the mid-90s. According to Marc Carig of New York Newsday, he admitted to feeling "sluggish," but the most important part was that he came out of it healthy and got stretched out to 49 pitches. He's expected to throw 60 pitches in his next scheduled start next Monday against the Red Sox. As of now, he's fully expected to be ready to go for the first week of the regular season.
It's important to remember that Harvey is still in the process of getting back on a regular routine of pitching every fifth day, so ups and downs are to be expected. Command is often the last thing to come back after surgery, so it's something to watch with him. Then again, Harvey is now 16 months removed from Tommy John surgery, so the longer recovery and rehab time could work in his favor. He's expected to be on an innings limit -- likely somewhere in the 180 IP-range during the regular season -- but the ace upside is still there.
Saunders Ahead of Schedule
The Blue Jays were preparing to be without Michael Saunders until around the All-Star break after he tore the meniscus in his left knee when he stepped on a sprinkler head while shagging fly balls on February 26, but things have taken a turn for the better of late.
Fortunately the injury wasn't as serious as originally believed, as the timetable was changed to 4-6 weeks after Saunders had surgery to remove 60 percent of the meniscus in the knee. He quickly began hitting off a tee and running on a treadmill, but he took his biggest step yet on Wednesday by taking batting practice on the field. Barring any setbacks, he now has a good chance to be ready for Opening Day.
While you have to hope that Saunders isn't pushing himself too soon, the move to Safeco Field to Rogers Centre makes him an intriguing name in deeper mixed fantasy leagues. The 28-year-old British Columbia native hit .273 with eight homers and a .791 OPS over 78 games last season and reached 19 homers and 21 stolen as recently as 2012. He owns a .720 OPS on the road during his career compared to a .646 OPS at Safeco Field, which underscores my optimistic for him as he moves into a hitter-friendly ballpark.
So Far, So Good For A-Rod
Alex Rodriguez has his share of doubters going into 2015. And it's understandable. Not only is he coming back from a 162-game PED suspension, but he'll turn 40 later this year. The Yankees no longer see him as an every day third baseman, which is why they re-signed Chase Headley over the winter. However, through his first week of spring training action, Rodriguez is showing that he can still swing the bat a little bit.
Rodriguez hit his first home run of the spring on Wednesday afternoon, depositing a fastball from Red Sox right-hander Brandon Workman over the left field fence. it was his first home run in 537 days. You can watch the video here.
Rodriguez is now 5-for-11 (.455) with a homer, a double, and a 2/2 K/BB ratio across his first five Grapefruit League games. He made his second start of the spring at third base on Wednesday -- and made a couple of nice plays along the way -- but he's being looked at as New York's primary DH at this point. Who knows how this situation is going to play out, but as most things go with A-Rod, it will be fascinating to follow.
On a related note, I recently sat down with Jenna Corrado (@jennacorrado) to offer some "Bold Predictions" for the 2015 season. Check them out below: