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Injury Watch: Late-Season Slowdown Edition

Hey there, RotoAuthority readers! We've reached the point in the season where teams aren't even bothering with the 15-day DL in some cases, as rosters have expanded, and there's less than 15 days left in the regular season.

On a only-kind-of-related sidenote, today's article is dedicated to my wife, Sarah. She's currently missing time after arthroscopic knee surgery. While she's on the 15-day DL, I expect she will need no rehab assignment, and is due to come off before the end of the season. Anyways, on to the injuries!

Chris Carpenter, Cardinals

Surprise, surprise, Chris Carpenter is on his way back. After suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition where excess pressure is placed on the nerves or arteries in the upper chest and shoulder region. While it was initially thought that Carpenter would miss the entire 2012 season, it now appears that he will make a few appearances at the major-league level as the Cardinals attempt to hold on to their position near the top of the wild card race.

Carpenter, a long-time fixture at the top of the Cardinals' rotation (and the disabled list), has a career 3.76 ERA and 3.80 FIP -- but those numbers don't tell the whole story of his success. Carpenter has also won two World Series rings with the Cards, and his pitching stats have improved significantly since playing for the Cardinals starting in 2004. Last season, Carpenter struck out 7.24 batters per nine innings, and racked up 5.0 fWAR.

The Cardinals are desperately trying to hang on to the last wild card spot, and currently sit 1.5 games ahead of the Dodgers for that last postseason berth. If they were out of contention, one might imagine that Carpenter would continue to get rest, but with the season on the line, the veteran ace should see use in at least two -- likely three -- games, plus any possible time in the playoffs.

The question is, if you still have a team that needs starts, wins, or rate stats, should you start Chris Carpenter? My advice is that yes, yes you should. Carpenter may be available on the wire in your league, especially if several league-mates have already checked out. And although we really don't know what kind of pitching shape Carpenter will be in, he pitches for a solid offensive team that's playing hard for a playoff spot. Best of all, if the current schedule holds, he'll draw the terrible Chicago Cubs and the even-worse Houston Astros for his first two starts out. Those are two eminently-beatable teams with weak offenses, so I'd give Carp a shot.

Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

Let's talk briefly about another injury-prone superstar: Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo, a perennial MVP candidate, has been limited to just 47 games and 203 plate appearances so far in an injury-plagued 2012. He was still pretty ok with the bat in that limited time, posting 114 wRC+, as well as 8 HR, a .287 batting average, and solid R and RBI numbers.

Since early in the season, Tulo has been battling a groin injury that's proven tough to overcome. Last week, Troy headed back to Denver to consult with doctors about a next course of action. It's possible he could return for, say, the last week of the season, but chances are that he's done for the year, especially with the Rockies well out of playoff contention.

I don't know if you've been hanging onto Tulo in the hopes that he'll come back this season, but if you have, it's probably time to cut bait. The odds of him not only returning this season, but also mashing the cover off the ball as well, are pretty slim. Tulo was having a down year with the bat in the games he did play, and groin issues can sap power and (especially) speed. Stick with Joshua Rutledge until next year ... and consider drafting Tulo a little later than you would usually in next year's drafts as well. These injury issues are a little disconcerting.

Quick Hits: Braves shortstop Paul Janish dislocated his shoulder on Tuesday. Janish, who's been filling in for Andrelton Simmons (who also has a shoulder issue) and Alex Gonzalez as the backup SS, doesn't have a firm timetable for a return. ... Brandon Inge is now definitely out for the season, after surgery on his shoulder. Looks like the A's will have to mix and match at third base during the post-season, not that it would be any worse than running Inge out there. ... Clayton Kershaw saw a hip specialist on Tuesday, and is re-starting a throwing program to see if his impingement will prevent him from pitching again in 2012. If Kershaw needs surgery, there's a chance he won't be healthy to start 2013. ... Giancarlo Stanton is dealing with a strained left intercostal muscle, and might return to the Marlins' lineup this weekend. Baseballs everywhere are terrified. ... Padres closer Huston Street looks to be returning to action before the end of the season. He's currently dealing with a left calf strain, and has been lights out when healthy this season. ... Finally, with Jason Hammel still dealing with a knee issue, and the Orioles just having come off a big 18-inning game on Tuesday, uber-prospect Dylan Bundy will be coming up to the majors today. Thanks to this particular injury, the surprising Orioles will have a chance to replace their current ace with a potential one.

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