Major league baseball is littered with injured body parts. It seems like every team in the league has someone as a stopgap before someone else is ready to return. There are a dozen failures (looking your way, Michael Roth. No wait. No one believe that “Michael Roth” is an actual pitcher) for every one guy who reaches success and pitches like he belongs in the big leagues (smiling at you, Tony Cingrani).
Itâ€™s possibly a better strategy to wait on these injured arms than it is to speculate on the guys that come up to replace them. If the replacements were any good, they would have been in the majors sooner.
Letâ€™s get out the giant rubber bands, medical charts and Elmerâ€™s glue because weâ€™re probably going to need all three to keep these guys on the field. This column doesnâ€™t resemble a MASH unit. This column actually is a MASH unit. All of these guys have serious ailments that have kept them away from baseball fields for months, but some are nearing a return. All of these guys could have an impact in a single-year league and they all will have an impact on this edition of Singles Only…
Johnny Cueto is nearing his return from the oblique strain he suffered and the Reds are about to face a tough decision, but not with Cueto. Tony Cingrani has proved that he deserves to stay in the majors. Mike Leake and Bronson Arroyo have both been mediocre. Itâ€™s anyoneâ€™s guess who gets shipped to the bullpen or the minors. It would make baseball sense for the Reds to simply shift Leake or Arroyo into the bullpen, but itâ€™s anyoneâ€™s guess when Dusty Baker is involved. Youâ€™ve gotta have veterans, dude.
Both Brandon Beachy and Colby Lewis are starting rehab assignments and both could be back by early June. If youâ€™re short an arm and donâ€™t want to scrounge the waiver wire for the Jason Vargases and Dylan Axelrods of the world, both should be available in most leagues. Beachy is owned in less than 25% of Yahoo! leagues and Lewis is only 6% owned in Yahoo! leagues. Itâ€™s simply a better strategy to roll with a guy with a track record than it is to roll with a minor league call up. Theyâ€™re lottery tickets that could deliver in four categories for the next three and a half months.
The Rangers should get a boost not only from Lewis, but a two other injured arms should be appearing in Texas at some point in the next few months. Matt Harrison is recuperating after a second back surgery last week. Heâ€™ll be logging mediocre results again sometime in July. Neftali Feliz has started a long toss program and also has a shot at returning around July assuming he doesnâ€™t suffer any setbacks. Feliz is facing much longer odds to return and really isn’t worth a speculative add at this point. Harrison is only owned in 24% of leagues. He’s worth a DL slot, if you have one and need a guy who won’t strike anyone out.
John Danks also started a rehab assignment, but it would take a big set of testicles to add him to a roster in anything but an AL-only league until he actually pitches well in a major league game. He wasnâ€™t just bad in spring training, he was so awful that he was shut down and rebooted.
Jered Weaver is throwing fastballs at about 90% intensity according to reports. That means he’s throwing what? 80 MPH? 81? Weaver was horrific at 100% intensity. Heâ€™ll be back in a few weeks, but do you really want him when he comes back? His velocity was down before he had to go on the shelf. He could be headed for Zito territory after his rehab.
Brett Anderson is expected to start a rehab assignment by the end of the weekend. His walk rate was up to 11.4% before he needed a few weeks off. It could just be a small sample size or it could mean he was still suffering the effects of his tweaked thumb and neck. Itâ€™s getting to the point that Anderson has more parts that have needed treatment than parts that havenâ€™t. This early season rest could wind up being a blessing in disguise if Anderson can stay off the DL for the rest of the year.
Josh Johnson is another guy who could actually be aided by the time off. Johnson was a victim of some horrific statistical variance during his first month in Toronto. Johnsonâ€™s .379 BABIP, 12.5% HR:FB ratio and 65.1% LOB % are well off his career averages and he could be in for a big second half. His 8.69 K/9 indicates that he is not in fact totally washed up. Johnson could still have value for a team that has seen a lot go wrong in the first month.
Remember Scott Baker? He was a popular sleeper in the off-season. Now? Heâ€™s just restarted his throwing program and still doesnâ€™t have a time table. You can go on ignoring him until he actually starts a rehab assignment instead of a long toss program.
Daniel Hudson appears to be on schedule to return to the Diamondbacks in early July. Heâ€™s throwing BP and more importantly, heâ€™s on a five-day throwing program while mixing in bullpen sessions. He could see a rehab assignment in the next few weeks and should step into the Arizona rotation soon after. Heâ€™s absolutely a name that fantasy GMs should keep in mind once his return draws nearer.
The Orioles will have to make a decision on left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada soon. Wada has exactly on career start in the US and it came in Triple-A. He didnâ€™t make it out of the third inning and required Tommy John surgery shortly after. Itâ€™s probably a good idea to actually see Wada at the major league level before rushing out to add him to a roster.
Thereâ€™s been a bit of bad news for those speculating on Padres starter Cory Luebke. Luebke supposedly felt pain after playing catch off a mound about two weeks ago and there hasnâ€™t been an update since. No news is good news, right?
Phillies starter Roy Halladay has a trifecta of bad in his right arm. He has a partially torn rotator cuff (what is this? 1988?), a frayed labrum and a bone spur. Yikes. Roy seems to think heâ€™ll be back at some point in 2013, but itâ€™s hardly a guarantee at this point.
Charlie Morton is expected to throw a bullpen session very soon. Heâ€™ll probably throw BP and then throw BP again once he comes back. Heâ€™s waiver wire fodder even when heâ€™s healthy.
Finally, Danny Duffy is a super-sneaky play that smart GMs will be stashing once he starts a rehab assignment. Duffy appeared to be figuring things out at the major league level and then he got hurt. He was striking out more than a batter per inning and posting not entirely gross results. He could provide some late season help for a fantasy team in need of strikeouts.