Fantasy report: Hamels setback complicates decisions

Likely out a month, Phillies left-hander not alone in catching injury bug

Fantasy report: Hamels setback complicates decisions

Spring Training games are underway, and fantasy owners need to keep a daily eye on news from around the Majors. With that in mind, here is a recap of the top fantasy-related notes from the past seven days.

Hamels sustains setback

Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels experienced a setback in his recovery from left shoulder inflammation, as he said his arm felt "fatigued out." The expectation is that the southpaw will not make a Major League start during April, which will cause Hamels to plummet down fantasy draft boards. Those in shallow mixed leagues should still be open-minded to spending a mid-round pick on the 30-year-old. When healthy, he is ace material, and in shallow formats it is easy to find a rotation replacement for the first month of the season. Those in deep leagues will have a much tougher decision, as waiver-wire options are weaker and another setback from Hamels could leave fantasy owners without the California native until the summer months.

Maybin skips surgery

It was a turbulent week for Padres outfielder Cameron Maybin, who sustained a ruptured left biceps tendon and seemed destined for surgery before deciding against the procedure later in the week. The speedster's recovery time is hard to predict, but he could be back in action by the late April. The 26-year-old was already a weak mixed-league option, and now he can start the season on waivers in almost all leagues. Maybin is still worth a couple of dollars in NL-only formats, but he will have a hard time finding a regular role in the Padres' lineup when he returns to full health, as the team boasts a deep group of outfield options. Because of Maybin's injury, Will Venable has a clear path to an everyday role, and he is one of the most intriguing late-round mixed-league options. Venable rung up 22 homers and the same number of steals last season, and he cured his biggest weakness when he hit .276 vs. southpaws. Without noticeable platoon splits, the 31-year-old has the potential to exceed 525 at-bats in 2014 and post another 20-20 campaign.

Detroit has Davis decision due to Dirks' dings

On Tuesday the Tigers announced that outfielder Andy Dirks would undergo back surgery, which should keep him on the sidelines for 12 weeks. The team expected Dirks to platoon with Rajai Davis in left field, but it will have to alter those plans for at least the first two months of the season. Davis succeeds vs. southpaws, but his .228 batting average vs. right-handers last season makes him a poor option in those matchups. Manager Brad Ausmus could choose to use Davis every day until Dirks returns, which would make Davis a terrific fantasy option, as he would almost certainly be among the Major League leaders in steals on June 1. Or, the team could keep the fleet-footed Davis in a platoon role and use a veteran like Don Kelly or Trevor Crowe to fill the spot until Dirks is ready to return. Because of his 40-steal potential, Davis is a wise late-round pick in all mixed leagues.

Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Hamels, Maybin and Dirks were not the only players to deal with injuries in the past seven days. Here are other ailments that fantasy owners should be watching:

Braves right-hander Kris Medlen departed from Sunday's game with a right forearm strain. The 28-year-old will have further tests on Monday, and a long-term absence by Medlen would give young southpaw Alex Wood a much better chance to start the season in the team's rotation. Wood is locked in a battle with Freddy Garcia for the final rotation spot, but now the Braves will most likely need both pitchers in their starting five. In a starting role, Wood would be a useful asset in shallow leagues.

Nationals starter Doug Fister was scratched on Friday because of elbow inflammation. For now, the team seems confident that the lanky right-hander will be available at the start of the season, but any March elbow injury is enough of a reason to bump the 30-year-old down a few spots on draft sheets.

Because of an ailing back, Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro has yet to appear in a 2014 Spring Training game. While the team hopes the 38-year-old will get into game action in the coming week, another setback could necessitate the choosing of a new Opening Day second baseman. Scutaro's ability to hit for average makes him worth a few dollars in NL-only formats, but his lack of power and speed should cause him to start the season on waivers in mixed leagues.

Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen dealt with shoulder soreness all last season, and he is already having shoulder problems this spring. The 32-year-old has the skills to keep his job all season if he can stay healthy, but the team has quality closer options in Sergio Santos and Steve Delabar if Janssen requires a stint on the DL. Since missing the 2008 campaign, Janssen has failed to reach the 60-inning mark in three of five seasons, and his inability to handle a heavy workload limits his fantasy value. Wise drafters will handcuff Santos to Janssen in the final round of 2014 drafts.

Box Score Bytes

On Monday, Nationals lefty Ross Detwiler gave up three earned runs (four total) in 1 1/3 innings, which will most likely hurt his chances of winning the last rotation spot. Detwiler is battling youngsters Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan, both of whom are off to better starts this spring. Both Roark and Jordan are better $1 options than Detwiler in NL-only leagues.

Mariners lefty James Paxton was mentioned last week in this space as a high-upside player who could slide into a rotation spot because of early-season injuries to other hurlers. Paxton has tossed five scoreless innings this spring, which should further bolster the rationale that he is worth a late-round mixed-league selection.

Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas has burned many fantasy owners in the past two seasons, but the former top prospect may be ready to get his career into the fast lane. The 25-year-old is tied for the Cactus League lead in homers (three) and RBIs (10). Moustakas is worth a shot as a mixed-league corner infielder.

Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista scares some fantasy owners because he finished both of the past two seasons on the DL. While questions about his long-term health will plague the patient slugger all season, Bautista's three Spring Training homers and .400 batting average show that his recent injuries have not affected his strong skill set. His rare power merits a selection in the first 40 picks of all 2014 drafts.

Dodgers infielder Dee Gordon should be shooting up fantasy draft boards. The speedster's eight steals this spring lead all players. Based on Spring Training workload, Gordon is the preferred candidate to start the season as the starting second baseman over offseason addition Alex Guerrero. Gordon is unlikely to hit for average, but he can swipe enough bases to help owners in deep leagues.

In six Spring Training innings, Cardinals prospect Carlos Martinez has held opposing batters to a .150 batting average. With Jaime Garcia most likely headed to the DL, Martinez and Joe Kelly seem to be locked in a battle for the final rotation spot. Kelly owns a 15.75 ERA this spring, and hitters are raking at a .429 clip when facing the right-hander. The Cardinals could go with the more experienced option in Kelly, but if Martinez grabs the job, he has the talent to hold it all season.

After two spring appearances, Phillies right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez owns an unsightly 16.87 ERA. Even with injuries to Hamels, Jonathan Pettibone and Ethan Martin, the popular opinion is that Gonzalez will need to start the season in the Minor Leagues. He should fall to waivers in virtually all fantasy formats.

Fred Zinkie is a fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.