The 2011 season has had several significant injuries to notable major league players, and a couple more stars are hitting the disabled list, now that Boston third baseman/first baseman Kevin Youkilis
, Giants closer Brian Wilson
, and Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins
are out of action.
Youkilis was the first of that trio to land on the DL when the club placed him there after several days of missed play due to a lower back strain. The burly infielder's batting average had sunk from .285 on July 22nd down to .266 in his most recent game on August 17th, so it's likely that the pain and stiffness in his back had some negative effects on his hitting. The Red Sox are clearly hoping that Youkilis will only miss a minimal amount of time, and the move appears to be simply a precaution so that they are running at close to 100 percent during the late September playoff push.
Infielders Jed Lowrie
and Mike Aviles
will see most of the time at Boston's hot corner, and both have been fantasy contributors in the past. Lowrie started the 2011 season by hitting .368 with 3 home runs and 12 RBI in April before sinking back and suffering injuries of his own. His season average currently sits at .265, but he can catch fire when things are going well for him.
Aviles, who was acquired from the Kansas City Royals for a pair of minor league players on July 30th, mostly struggled with the Royals this season but hit well in the minor leagues and has had some very strong seasons as a big leaguer. He's hit 13 for 44 (.295) with a pair of stolen bases since joining Boston, so it's possible that increased playing time may turn him into someone worthy of some fantasy baseball attention.
To replace Youkilis, the Red Sox recalled catching prospect Ryan Lavarnway
, who Baseball America
ranked as the club's 16th best prospect entering 2011. Lavarnway has had very good minor league numbers this season and hit a combined .293 with a .372 on-base average and 30 home runs between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket. He isn't a very capable defensive catcher, but his bat has earned him a lot of praise and the team has been using him as their designated hitter while starter David Ortiz
deals with some nagging injuries.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants bullpen suffered a shakeup over the weekend when closer Brian Wilson was placed on the disabled list with elbow soreness. Wilson had been absent from games since blowing a save by allowing 3 runs against Atlanta on August 15th, and his move to the disabled list is retroactive to the 16th. The club was hoping that Wilson would not need a trip the the disabled list, but after several days the move was finally made.
To replace Wilson, the Giants recalled 26 year-old righthanded reliever Steve Edlefsen
, who was not ranked among their top 30 prospects of 2011 by Baseball America
and had some very lackluster numbers for Triple-A Fresno this season.
The Giants closing duties will probably be somewhat by committee, though most of the opportunities should fall to setup man Jeremy Affeldt
, who has a 2.54 ERA in 56 2/3 innings this year and was recently featured in our Under the Radar - Mixed Leagues article
. Some save duties could also fall to pitchers Ramon Ramirez
, Javier Lopez
, and Santiago Casilla
, depending on specific hitter matchups and game situations.
Finally, National League East leader Philadelphia will be without table-setting shortstop Jimmy Rollins for approximately three weeks after an MRI revealed a strained right groin following a start against Washington on Sunday night (source: MLB.com).
With Rollins out of action, the Phillies activated third baseman Placido Polanco
from the DL. Polanco had been out of action with a sports hernia since August 7th and will return to the lineup as the everyday third baseman, with utility infielder Wilson Valdez
sliding over to shortstop to fill in for Rollins. Polanco is a .301 career hitter who possesses some home run power, though he's not much of a fantasy baseball factor at this point in his career. Valdez is hitting .236 this year and is known more for his glove than anything he does at the plate.