Derek Rhoads of Baseball Prospectus noted this week that he thinks Major League Baseball has hit peak Injured List status. And know what? Maybe the health and safety of players on the field would do more to help audience involvement than cryptocurrency or media deals with misogynistic sports books. While Mike Trout and Jacob deGrom and Mookie Betts and Ronald Acuña and Shane Bieber are all dwelling on the IL, and while Fernando Tatís Jr. is playing right field while delaying surgery on his chronically injured shoulder, and while Trevor Bauer is in court…maybe there’s something about the quality of players on the field right now that needs to be addressed for the expansion of the game? Or maybe we really just need MLB cryptocurrency. Let’s jump into the news and see what we can find out for the week.
Two Aces Down
Because Derek Rhoads likes visualizations, we’ve got a very detailed graphic we can use to understand just how many injured players there are right now:
I think there is at least a chance that we have seen the peak number of concurrently injured players in 2021.
2018 peak – 5/30, 178 players
2019 peak – 8/23, 233 players
2020 peak – 8/24, 240 players
2021 peak – 7/22, 295 players (so far)
(~288 players on IL as of yesterday) pic.twitter.com/2Dukk8qlSM
— Derek Rhoads (@drhoa3) August 16, 2021
OK, maybe peak injury status was a month ago, but we’re 99% of the way there at the time of writing. Shortly after Derek tweeted this, another two injuries among star pitchers appeared. The starker injury occurred with the Oakland Athletics’ star pitcher Chris Bassitt, who took a line drive off his face this week. The video of the injury is easy enough to find online if you want to watch it, although many strong-stomached viewers in my timeline referred to it as “sickening.” Bassitt took the line drive off his face, and luckily the ball missed his eye and his vision was undamaged. However, Bassitt suffered multiple facial fractures and lacerations. At the time of this writing, there is no timetable for Bassitt’s return and he may miss the rest of the season. One comparison could be Robbie Ray, who took a line drive to the head in 2017 and missed about 2 months of time. Although Ray recovered nicely for the 2017 season, the post-concussion effects lingered for years. Fingers crossed that Bassitt will make a full recovery.
Meanwhile, Freddy Peralta of the Milwaukee Brewers suffered shoulder inflammation in his pitching arm, possibly caused by batting. This year, pitchers like Jack Flaherty and Elieser Hernandez lost months of playing time due to injuries incurred while batting, and now Freddy Peralta may join the pack. The Brewers were already limiting Peralta’s pitching after the all-star break in order to preserve him for the playoffs, and now their young breakout star will spend at least ten days recovering from his most recent injury. Although Peralta and the Brewers are optimistic about the prognosis, fans are keeping their fingers crossed that Peralta doesn’t follow a similar path to Jacob deGrom, the latter of whom pitched through forearm tendonitis and shoulder inflammation and has missed most of the second half of the season.
Sale-vation is at Hand
MLB celebrated the return of seven-time all-star Chris Sale this week. The Red Sox’ prized pitcher had been recovering from Tommy John surgery all year, and with the Red Sox in a heated race for the AL East title, Sale’s return comes just in time to chase the Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays. Sale’s thrown 10 IP across two starts so far while striking out 13 and walking only one batter. Should the Red Sox make the playoffs, fans might see Sale throwing later into games than his current 5 IP limit. For now, MLB fans just hope that Sale remains healthy as he makes his triumphant return.
Trevor Bauer Proceedings
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge denied a permanent restraining order against suspended Dodgers’ pitcher Trevor Bauer this week. Criminal and civil investigations against Bauer are pending, and MLB will be spending months on their investigation, so we may see more court news in the near future. The details of the case revealed in this week’s case are brutal and shocking, and the judge herself called the injuries inflicted upon the victim “terrible.” Additionally, the Washington Post revealed this week that Trevor Bauer had been previously the subject of a protection order while he pitched in Cleveland. If you would like to read more in-depth about this week’s court case, you can follow ESPN’s coverage at this link: https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/32051068/woman-denied-restraining-order-trevor-bauer.
Little League World Series
With MLB teams already tanking and the AL East in a 4-way race for first, it’s time for the August tradition of the Little League World Series. Because of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, this year’s LLWS features only domestic teams and no crowds. In total, there will be a maximum of 30 games played on the way to the championship, and readers will have plenty of time to get their DVRs ready for the title game on August 29th. If you want to follow the action more closely or download the bracket in PDF form, check out the Sporting News website, where they have recent game scores and brackets for use: https://www.sportingnews.com/us/mlb/news/little-league-world-series-schedule-bracket/io350bs5cl3l1ax5qcif5t9f6
All right, friends! Let me know what you’re reading down in the comments. Be a beacon of loving-kindness for yourself and the world right now, and we’ll check in next week. Enjoy the second half of the season!
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)