Naturally, MLB pitchers continue to get banged up as the season rolls along, throwing a wrench in fantasy baseball lineups. Some fantasy-viable pitchers have been out for an extended period of time, while others are new additions to the injury headlines. As always, we have the latest updates. Today, we’ll look at the top injured pitchers, including Carlos Rodon, Justin Steele, Pete Fairbanks, Triston McKenzie, A.J. Puk, and more.
This is our weekly edition of fantasy baseball injury updates for pitchers as of June 1st, 2023. We’ll be covering all positions throughout the week, so stay tuned. Some players on this list impact fantasy baseball more than others, but with leagues of all shapes and sizes, you never know which guys will force fantasy managers to search waiver wires in hopes of finding adequate replacements.
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New York Yankees left-hander Carlos Rodon (back) said he’s scheduled to throw his next bullpen session on Friday in Los Angeles before the team starts their series against the Dodgers. Rodon has tossed two bullpens since he resumed throwing on May 14, and Friday’s session will be his third as he attempts to move past a balky back issue. The 30-year-old southpaw began the 2023 season on the injured list with a left-forearm injury, but that’s the least of his concerns right now.
The Yankees are going to take things slowly with their prized free-agent acquisition, so fantasy managers shouldn’t just assume Rodon will be back in June, especially since he has yet to face live hitters. Once he does join New York’s rotation, though, he could return to being a fantasy ace.
Chicago Cubs manager David Ross said that left-hander Justin Steele (forearm) will undergo an MRI exam on his left forearm/elbow during the team’s off day on Thursday. “Not sounding any alarms,” Ross said. Steele threw three hitless and scoreless innings with one strikeout on Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays before leaving with forearm tightness, and fantasy managers shouldn’t be surprised if the 27-year-old southpaw needs to go on the injured list.
Steele has been money for fantasy managers that were savvy enough to pick him up this year, as he entered Wednesday’s start with a strong 2.77 ERA (2.85 FIP), 1.11 WHIP and 57 strikeouts in 65 innings over 11 starts so far in 2023. Hayden Wesneski is a good bet to enter the Cubbies’ rotation if Steele lands on the IL.
The Tampa Bay Rays were encouraged by the results of imaging conducted on relief pitcher Pete Fairbanks‘ hip Tuesday, as no structural damage was revealed. Fairbanks’ hip initially “locked up” as he was warming up during Sunday’s game, forcing him to the 15-day injured list, according to manager Kevin Cash.
The 29-year-old is set to get an injection in an attempt to decrease the inflammation and will not throw for a week. Fairbanks has pitched well this season, serving as co-closer with Jason Adam, who will likely take on a larger role in Fairbanks’ absence.
Cleveland Guardians right-hander Triston McKenzie (shoulder) made a third rehab appearance on May 30, according to MLB.com, and now he’s about to join the club when they begin their next series on Thursday against the Minnesota Twins. He has yet to be activated, and manager Terry Francona will have a discussion with the 25-year-old to see how he’s feeling, but he’ll likely make a return at some point during the weekend.
McKenzie has yet to throw a pitch for Cleveland this season after suffering a strained right shoulder in Spring Training. In 2022, the former top prospect broke out, pitching to an 11-11 record, 2.96 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 25.6% strikeout rate.
Philadelphia Phillies lefty Jose Alvarado (elbow) threw live batting practice on Wednesday. Manager Rob Thompson told reporters that if everything goes well, the 28-year-old will almost be ready to begin a rehab assignment.
Alvarado was enjoying the best numbers of his career before going down with elbow inflammation and hitting the injured list on May 10. Over 14.1 innings, the southpaw posted a 0.63 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, and 46.2% strikeout rate and had yet to walk a batter while adding five saves. Fantasy managers can expect to have Alvardo back in mid-June, and hopefully, he can take back the closer role.
Miami Marlins relief pitcher A.J. Puk (elbow) is set to begin a minor league rehab assignment in Double-A Pensacola on Thursday. The left-hander has been sidelined since May 14 due to left elbow nerve irritation. The good news is, Puk has been progressing nicely over the last few weeks.
The expectation is that Puk will only need a few rehab minor league appearances before he’s ready to rejoin the MLB team. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to the Marlins bullpen once Puk returns. Dylan Floro has been doing a nice job in the ninth inning, so possibly the Marlins go bullpen-by-committee once Puk returns.
Cleveland Guardians starting pitcher Aaron Civale (oblique) will make his return to the mound for Friday’s game against the Minnesota Twins. The right-hander has been sidelined since early April due to a left oblique strain. He posted a 2.84 ERA and 1.03 WHIP with eight strikeouts during his two starts before landing on the injured list.
He looked good during his recent minor league rehab appearances. Civale should give a boost to the Guardians rotation, but his fantasy value isn’t too great due to his lack of strikeouts. He’ll be worth looking at in deeper leagues
New York Mets left-hander Jose Quintana (rib cage) is set to face live batters during a live batting practice session on Monday for the first time since having a bone-graft rib surgery in March. Quintana should embark on a minor-league rehab assignment shortly after. The 34-year-old Colombian southpaw has yet to pitch at all for the Mets in 2023, but he’s nearing his return and should join their starting rotation in late June after signing a two-year, $26 million contract as a free agent over the winter.
In 32 starts for the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals in 2022, Quintana turned back the clock with a career-best 2.93 combined ERA (2.99 FIP), 1.21 WHIP and 20.2% strikeout rate in 165 2/3 innings. Don’t expect similar numbers when he returns this year, and his 7.4 K/9 in 2022 was his lowest since 2013.
Detroit Tigers left-hander Tarik Skubal (elbow) threw his second live batting practice session on Tuesday, and barring a setback, his next step is to start a minor-league rehab assignment. Skubal would likely make four or five rehab starts before the Tigers consider reinstating him from the injured list to rejoin their starting rotation. The 26-year-old southpaw has looked good so far in his recovery from flexor-tendon surgery, but fantasy managers must remain patient.
It might be too optimistic to expect him to be back in June, but it’s a remote possibility. When he’s healthy and pitching again for Detroit, he should be rostered in the majority of fantasy leagues. Skubal has pitched to a 4.15 ERA (4.32 FIP), 1.21 WHIP and 9.6 K/9 in 299 innings in 60 outings (57 starts) over his three big-league seasons to this point.
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Matt Manning (foot) threw another full bullpen session on Tuesday. Manning also threw a bullpen last week as he works his way back from a right-foot fracture that he suffered in the middle of April. The 25-year-old right-hander is getting closer to facing live hitters, and he’ll eventually go on a minor-league rehab assignment before rejoining Detroit’s starting rotation.
He only made two starts for the Tigers this year before fracturing his foot, and he will return to a 4.63 ERA (7.31 FIP), 1.29 WHIP, three walks and seven strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings pitched. Because he’s on the 60-day injured list, Manning won’t be eligible to return for fantasy managers until mid-June.