MASH Report (5/15/14)

• I hate to see Jose Fernandez needing Tommy John surgery (TJS). His owners really should not have been totally surprised the injury happened. While it is impossible to predict exactly which pitchers will get injured when, Fernandez had some injury risk signs coming into the season.

1. He threw hard. When Matt Harvey had TJS last season, I looked at extreme hard throwers to see if they have more injury risk. Among only 15 starters, there was a heightened risk. I would hate to draw too many conclusions from a sample of 15, but the trend continues.

2. He threw a ton of curve balls. Over 30% in 2013 and in 2014. Previously, I found pitchers who throw their curve more than 25% of the time have a 50% chance of going on the DL.

3. He hadn’t yet established himself in the majors. Pitchers who have been able to make in the majors for three complete season are about 10% points less likely to be DL bound.

All three factors put Fernandez at a higher than normal injury risk.

Matt Harrison‘s career may be done.

Harrison is suffering from a back condition known as spondylolisthesis, which is causing severe nerve irritation in his back and could require spinal-fusion surgery. Such a procedure could end his career because the odds of full recovery are not good. The other option is for Harrison to try to live with it, but there is no telling how painful it would be to continue to pitch with the condition.

“The fact is there are not a lot of guys that have had that surgery and come back successfully,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “I feel for Matt and his family. It is a blow to the club, but he has worked extremely hard to come back. Although the odds aren’t great, we hope he’s the exception.”

Personally, I think he is droppable for this season. His fastball velocity is down 2.7 mph from 2012 which was the last time he was 100% healthy. His Zone% is down from 51.3% to 40.9%. Sounds like he won’t pitch decently with the pain or he will be out with surgery.

• Jamine Garcia plans on starting for the Cardinals on Sunday. Reports make it sound like he is ready to go.

The Cardinals were comfortable turning to Garcia so soon, too, based on how well he pitched Monday.

“Velocity looks normal,” Matheny said. “Movement is very good. And secondary stuff looks right. All things are pointed in a good direction.”

Because he is not fully stretched out, Garcia will have a pitch count limit of about 90-95 in this weekend’s start.

I would be a bit skeptical of starting him though. See how he does in the first start and then evaluate from there.

• In the last MASH Report, I noted Martin Perez had the top PAIN score and now he is probably needing Tommy John surgery. Something is just not right when a pitcher is throwing strikes 8% points less and has a 2.5 mph fastball drop.

Ryan Zimmerman‘s thumb is not healing as quick as expected.

Nationals third basemanRyan Zimmerman recently had X-rays done on his fractured right thumb, and they revealed that he is not close to doing any thumb exercises. The problem is that the thumb hasn’t healed. There is no timetable as to when it will be 100 percent.

“The doctor is not comfortable with him doing any strengthening stuff — yet,” manager Matt Williams said. “I imagine we go back to that within a week and see where he is at. .. It’s been four weeks and he is not quite there yet.”

Just some more DL for Mr. Zimmerman. What else is new?

Jason Motte threw between 91 and 95 mph in his first rehab appearance. He averaged 97 mph in 2012. He looks like he has a ways to go to get to previous performance levels.

Neftali Feliz was clocked at 96 mph in AAA.

Reliever Neftali Feliz was activated off the disabled list at Triple-A Round Rock and threw one scoreless inning in the Express’ 14-3 loss to Memphis. He allowed a single, struck out one and threw 14 pitches. His fastball topped out at 96 mph.

His owners may eventually get some value from him this season.

• Miquel Alfredo Gonzalez (Cuban defector signed by the Phillies) will begin his minor league rehab assignment soon. He struggled in spring training and this assignment will go a long way in determining his talent level after not pitching for two years.

Fastball Velocities for Pitchers Returning from the DL

Casey Janssen‘s velocity is fine compared to 2013.

Players on the DL over the course of this season.

PAIN (Pitcher Abuse INdex) Rankings (min 100 pitches in April and in May)

Any player with a PAIN value over 100 (red) has the traits of a pitcher likely to be hurt.

Name Pain Velocity May Velocity April Diff Zone% May Zone % April Diff
Huston Street 234 88.9 89.4 -0.4 32.4% 43.6% -11.2%
Brandon League 200 91.2 91.7 -0.4 33.6% 42.5% -8.9%
Drew Pomeranz 157 91.2 92.4 -1.2 45.2% 52.1% -7.0%
Zack Wheeler 156 94.4 94.0 0.4 40.2% 51.5% -11.3%
Brandon Maurer 152 91.7 93.1 -1.3 46.8% 53.6% -6.7%
Chris Perez 152 94.3 93.8 0.4 44.4% 57.2% -12.8%
Brandon Gomes 142 86.7 87.6 -0.9 38.9% 43.5% -4.5%
Jarred Cosart 133 93.4 94.3 -0.9 42.4% 47.6% -5.2%
Roenis Elias 132 91.8 91.2 0.6 38.2% 47.5% -9.4%
Jeanmar Gomez 132 89.2 89.0 0.2 41.3% 50.4% -9.2%
Scott Kazmir 131 88.8 90.7 -1.9 48.1% 51.3% -3.2%
Josh Beckett 127 91.1 91.6 -0.5 45.2% 52.7% -7.5%
Tanner Roark 125 89.3 91.0 -1.7 47.8% 51.3% -3.6%
Collin McHugh 124 91.1 91.3 -0.2 44.6% 52.7% -8.1%
Felix Doubront 123 88.3 89.5 -1.2 46.9% 51.9% -5.0%
Santiago Casilla 114 94.4 93.9 0.5 38.1% 45.7% -7.6%
John Axford 113 93.8 93.9 -0.1 43.8% 51.0% -7.2%
Josh Lueke 111 88.2 88.9 -0.7 47.8% 54.3% -6.5%
Ryan Vogelsong 104 90.2 90.2 0.0 42.7% 49.4% -6.8%
Michael Wacha 104 91.9 92.4 -0.4 47.9% 54.9% -6.9%
Scott Carroll 102 89.0 89.1 -0.1 46.6% 54.0% -7.4%
Kyle Kendrick 101 88.5 88.7 -0.2 41.4% 46.3% -5.0%

• A bunch of relievers, but Scott Kazmir‘s name sticks out for a starter. It looks like his tricep is still bothering him.

Players on the DL

(*) 15 Day Disabled List

(**) 60 Day Disabled List

(***) 7 Day Concussion List

(****) Free Agent

Red colored entries are updates since last report.

Major League Report


Minor League Report

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Jeff 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 season in Tout Wars, he won the H2H league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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On the charts — is “June” supposed to be “April”?