Earlier, we discussed the fantasy impact of injuries sustained by position players during spring training. Now, let's take a look at the pitchers.
Kelvim Escobar SP - Tear In Pitching Shoulder, Out Until At Least June - Very Possible He Is Done For The Season
Fantasy Impact - Coming off a strong 18 win campaign, Escobar has a serious tear in his pitching shoulder which might not only end his season but could be career threatening. The Angels insist there is a chance he could be back in June, but we wouldn't put much faith in the 32 year old returning this season.
John Lackey SP - Strained Right Triceps, Out Until Mid-May
Fantasy Impact - The injuries to Lackey and Escobar puts a lot more pressure on Jered Weaver who is now the Angels' opening day starter and newly acquired Jon Garland who will serve as the number two in the rotation. The bump to defacto ace forces Weaver into more difficult matchups and hurts his fantasy value a bit, while Garland is more or less unphased and should be a decent fantasy option. Rounding out the rotation are Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders who will now work out of the 3 and 4 holes with either Dustin Moseley or top prospect Nick Adenhart claiming the 5th starter role. Our money is on the more experienced Moseley who has been effective as a long reliever and pitched well in a few spot starters over the past couple of years.
Scott Kazmir SP - Elbow, Out Up To 3 Weeks
Fantasy Impact - With Kazmir missing 2-3 turns in the rotation, the Rays will shift everyone up a slot with James Shields pitching opening day followed by Matt Garza, Andy Sonnanstine, Edwin Jackson and Jason Hammel. Edwin Jackson pitched well this spring and the former top prospect has shown a good amount of promise since arriving in Tampa. He has been notoriously inconsistent from start to start in the past, however, he has decent sleeper potential entering 2008. Jason Hammel will likely be dropped from the rotation once Kazmir is ready.
BJ Ryan CL - Shoulder Pain, Out 1-2 Weeks - Scheduled to return 4/11
Fantasy Impact - Ryan was shut down after experiencing pain in his throwing shoulder. Coming off Tommy John surgery, the Jays are going to play it safe with their high priced closer. In the meantime, Jeremy Accardo who saved 30 games last season will work the ninth inning and is an excellent option over the first 2 weeks of the season. Although Ryan should get healthy and accumulate a decent amount of saves this season, his owners should definately handcuff the promising Accardo. If Ryan goes down, Accardo immediately becomes a top 10-15 closer.
Yovani Gallardo SP - Knee, Out Until Mid-April - Might Only Miss 1 Start
Fantasy Impact - We discussed the Gallardo's injury in-depth back in February. He is recovering on schedule and may only miss one start. In his absence Carlos Villanueva will pitch in the 4 hole with Manny Parra being the 5th starter. The two will essentially be battling for the final rotation spot behind Ben Sheets, Jeff Suppan and Dave Bush. Our money is on Villanueva holding a roster spot after a sparkling spring and Parra working out of the pen in a middle/long relief role until the inevitable Ben Sheets injury.
Noah Lowry - Left Forearm, Out Until Late April - Early May
Fantasy Impact - Lowry was having an awful spring before requiring surgery on his left forearm that will keep him out for the first 4 weeks of the season. He is a notorious second half pitcher and perhaps this surgery will save owners some early season frustrations with the 27 year old left hander. With Lowry out, promising youngster Jonathan Sanchez will battle with newly converted starter Kevin Correia for the final rotation spot behind Barry Zito, Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum. Sanchez has looked strong this spring and although Correia has reportedly earned his spot in the rotation for the season, don't be surprised if Sanchez squeezes him out at some point.
Fernando Rodney MR - Shoulder, Out Until Mid to Late April
Fantasy Impact - The absences of Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney have left the Tigers bullpen especially thin. Zumaya is out until at least July, leaving Rodney as the Tigers clear cut choice to work the 8th inning or fill in at closer upon his return.
Casey Jannsen MR - Shoulder, Out For The Season
Fantasy Impact - Jannsen was great last season and was slated to begin the season as Toronto's primary setup man with Accardo closing. Those duties will now go to Scott Downs, but keep an eye on Brandon League who looks healthy and has been throwing well this spring.
John Smoltz SP - Will make first start on April 6th. Tim Hudson will be the Braves opening day starter with Smoltz pushed back.
Andy Pettitte SP - Season debut pushed back to April 5th. Pettitte will be the Yankees number 2 starter this season.
DL Stash Candidates
Chris Carpenter SP - Elbow, Out Until Late July - Don't forget about the former CY Young award winner. He could be a difference maker in the second half if healthy.
Curt Schilling SP - Shoulder, Out Until Late July - Schilling's shoulder is in bad shape and will require surgery at some point to correct. Limit your expectations for the former Red Sox ace this season.
Mark Mulder SP - Shoulder, Out Until Early May - On schedule, threw batting practice to minor leaguers and will begin a minor league rehab assignment later in April.
Mark Prior SP - Shoulder, Out Until Early June - Faced live hitter for the first time in a year on Thursday and felt fine after. Now in San Diego, Prior is a nice sleeper candidate pitching in cavernous Petco Park.
Mike Gonzalez - Shoulder, Out Until Early May - Currently throwing live batting practice and is ahead of schedule on his return. Initial reports had him out until June.