MASH Report: Harrison, Richards, & More

Josh Harrison discussed how his July 2015 surgery bothered him into 2016.

Harrison had surgery to repair his thumb in July 2015, and he returned at less than 100 percent. The following offseason, his training was designed to avoid putting too much weight on his thumb joint. Even during the first half of ’16, especially in cold weather, Harrison’s thumb became stiff and often stung.

“To be honest, I didn’t really feel it come back until right before I got hurt,” Harrison said.

Examining Harrison batted ball stats, there is a mixed message with his 2016 exit velocity dropping 1 mph while and increase in his launch angle led to more distance (+11 ft). The more I dug, I found very little to support a 2017 rebound. He was not productive before the 2015 injury. He never improved over the 2016 season. I may give him a small bump in value because he may have played through injuries but I think the 29-year-old may have peaked in 2014 and is just headed downhill. With him approaching 30, his one good trait, steals, may also be in jeopardy.

Jeff Passan at Yahoo! Sports wrote about Garrett Richards recovery process from a torn UCL.

“I truly think this kind of treatment has significant potential,” said Dr. Neal ElAttrache, a longtime orthopedic surgeon at the Kerlan-Jobe clinic in Los Angeles who introduced orthobiologics to Major League Baseball when he injected PRP into the elbow of Dodgers reliever Takashi Saito in 2008. “There’s no question biologics are here to stay and biologic manipulation is the frontier of treatment in what we’re doing. The problem, as I see it, is that the marketing and clinical use has far exceeded the science behind it.”

Translation: Once the use of PRP and stem cells found traction in the media, pro athletes and weekend warriors alike sought their use, even if the success stories skewed anecdotal. Bartolo Colon resurrected his career after a stem cell injection in 2010 and is still pitching today at 43. Others did so without the fanfare or publicity. Richards faced a choice after being diagnosed with a partially torn UCL last May: Undergo Tommy John surgery and, at earliest, return following the 2017 All-Star break or follow the advice of Dr. Steve Yoon, a partner of ElAttrache’s at Kerlan-Jobe, and try to salvage the ligament with stem cells.

Garrett Richards, for good or bad, will become the poster child for using stem cell injections to avoid Tommy John surgery. If it works, everyone will want to use it. If Richards has to go under the knife, I could see the procedure get a bad rap.

The procedure has already taken a hit. Andrew Heaney tried Richards’s recovery method and it failed. He is now rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

• The Dodgers expect to sit Adrian Gonzalez more this season to keep him healthy.

Gonzalez has been shut down with right elbow tendinitis, and he added that if he can play in at least one Dodgers exhibition game, he will join Team Mexico for the World Baseball Classic the second week of March.

Regardless, management is determined to cut back the games the 34-year-old Gonzalez plays. Although he has played in at least 156 games every year since 2006, Zaidi said strategic rest will benefit Gonzalez and the club.

“We looked over the last few years his performance coming out of a day off, and he always seems to have a hot streak coming out of that,” Zaidi said. “It’s tough with him; he’s so good defensively also. Even against a tough lefty, he’s the best option, but we’re going to try to figure a way to give him more days off.”

I think about 140 games seems like a good playing time estimate.

Devin Mesoraco will be limited to every other game to start the season.

The initial plan for the early season is for Mesoraco to catch 50-60 percent of games in tandem with Tucker Barnhart. Mesoraco, a 2014 All-Star, has caught 19 games over the past two seasons because of injuries.

“We’re trying to avoid the too much, too soon issue,” Price said. “We’ll just stay with the plan we have set for him, and that’s to incrementally increase his workload until he’s ready for games. We’ll do the same thing when I meter out the innings for him.”

I will call “early season” meaning two months. For the rest of the season, probably 66% usage.

50%*54 games + 66%*108 games = 98 games

That will be his max on games caught. I might even take another eight off for a DL stint.

• Steven Martano at Beyond the Boxscore examined five pitchers returning from Tommy John surgery.

Because he had his surgery in November of 2015, he should not be on too much of an innings limit. Lynn was in the discussion as one of the breakout pitchers in early 2015. Craig Edwards over at FanGraphs even went so far as to compare him to Max Scherzer. While Lynn does not have the power fastball of Scherzer, he does have a career 8.71 K/9 rate.

Lynn could be a great late game option.

Max Scherzer is still experiencing pain in his knuckle.

Josh Hamilton couldn’t even make it through the first workout before heading off to the doctor.

Steve Pearce’s recovery is moving along nicely and he may be outfield ready to start the season.

Pearce, who signed a two-year, $12.5 million deal with the Blue Jays in December, had surgery in late September with a recovery time of 4-6 months. He was expected to be limited to just first base in April.

“He’s moved along,” Atkins said. “The progression has been a little bit better than we expected based on history and projecting out for that specific injury and where he should be from a throwing standpoint. He’s checking every box.”

Atkins said he expects Pearce could be joining in workouts with the rest of the team as early as Sunday and said he is already swinging the bat and will be getting in-game at-bats “as soon as everyone else.”

Eyeballing some expected playing times around the interwebs, people are only expecting 400 PA from Piece. A full season could push that number to 600. I would monitor the situation and pounce for a potential value pick.

Charlie Tilson has a stress fracture in his foot.

An MRI was done Saturday on Tilson’s right foot, showing the stress reaction. This latest injury could be considered somewhat disappointing for Tilson, who has worked so hard to come back from a torn left hamstring sustained in his lone game with the White Sox last season.

Rick Hahn put a healthy Tilson as the early leader for the starting center field slot in the general manager’s opening comments of Spring Training. The team also has non-roster invite Peter Bourjos, who figures to break camp with the team, along with Leury Garcia and prospects Jacob May and Adam Engel as center-field options during Tilson’s absence.

I loved Tilson as a complete under the radar option in deep leagues for 20 steals and a handful of home runs. His NFBC ADP is 392, so he is readily available for most owners. I still like him but I will monitor this situation closely.

Albert Pujols still may not ready to start the season.

Pujols underwent right foot surgery in December, and his availability for Opening Day remains in question. The 37-year-old slugger has been hitting, taking ground balls and playing catch, and is now working on easing himself back into running.

I am going to limit my projections of him to 500 PA with 100 replacement level PA.



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Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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