As you prepare for fantasy baseball drafts you, of course, have to study the injury report to see which certain stars are ready to roll for the regular season and which ones who could be sidelined a little longer.
There are obviously some risks and pitfalls when relying on players coming off injuries. But like each snowflake, each injury is unique, as some injuries can debilitate one person while the next person can shake it off in no time. The severity of each injury and the prognosis for recovery is vital to know before drafting.
That all said, let’s examine some players who will have injuries to overcome prior to the start of the 2014 season. In each column, we will study some new players each week. So be sure to check back every week.
In this first installment, we’ll take a closer look at injuries effecting some starting pitching that could in turn affect your draft strategy.
Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
After a so-so season (at least by his standards) last season, Justin Verlander enters the 2014 season with some risk since he is dealing a core muscle injury in his abdomen.
Ex-Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland has gone on record as saying Verlander should not rush his comeback. This setback will definitely limit Verlander in Spring Training and his status for Opening Day will be in doubt even though some in the organization are hopeful he can make it back in time.
Abdomen injuries are no joke and time is truly the best medicine. Too often, players try to rush back and wind up hurting themselves even more. Verlander, even if misses a start or two, should be primed for at least a mid-April return.
Actually, this injury could be a blessing in disguise. When you combine the injury with the season he is coming off of, Verlander could offer great value in rounds three or four.
Derek Holland, Texas Rangers
You can have a field day with the headlines surrounding the nature of how Derek Holland got injured:
“Bow Wow Ow!”
That’s because the Rangers’ lefty hurt his knee playing with his dog, or at least that’s the story he is giving.
Because of the, ahem, rough(ruff?) play, Holland had to have microfracture surgery last week to repair torn cartilage behind his left kneecap. As a result, the Rangers said that Holland will be on crutches for at least six weeks.
Looking at it optimistically when you factor in rehab, Holland is likely on target for a June return.
Drop Holland down a peg prior to Draft Day, as you might have to go without him for almost half a season.
Chad Billingsley, Los Angeles Dodgers
Although not in the same class with Verlander and Holland, some people still have hope that Chad Billingsley can resurrect his career and become a top-notch pitcher once again.
Well, Billingsley is another in a long line of hurlers recovering from Tommy John surgery and since he had it last April, it thus makes his recovery time of 12-15 months well within reach of him returning in say late-June.
Fantasy GMs should temper their expectations when it comes to Billingsley. Sure, he could feel re-energized after the surgery and lengthy rehab like many others have before him, but between the layoff and other questions surrounding his ability, he is probably nothing more than a late-round flier in most drafts. In fact, in some leagues he can go undrafted, as there are simply too many question marks attached to his name.