Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pitcher Injury Updates & Fantasy Impact - Week 3

Each week, FSE takes a look at the key injuries affecting fantasy baseball owners and offers updates, projected return times and the impending fantasy implications. Here, we focus on the pitchers.

Next Stop - DL…

Joe Borowski (Strained Triceps) – Borowski hit the 15 day DL immediately following a disastrous blown save compliments of Manny and the Red Sox. He is now expected out for at least a month.

Fantasy Impact: All-world setup man Rafael Betancourt will get his shot to close in Borowski’s absence. If Betancourt proves reliable, Borowski’s days of working the ninth in Cleveland may be over.

Projected Return: Mid-Late May

Erik Bedard (Hip) – Bedard hit the 15-day DL due to inflammation in his right hip. The DL date is retroactive to April 9th making the 24th the first day he can return but the team has said it does not intend to rush their ace back. Bedard is definitely out for week 3 and is a risky proposition for week 4. The earliest he could return would be for a weekend series against Oakland the 25th-27th but we wouldn’t count on it. Bedard owners should plan on him being out of action until week 5.

Fantasy Impact: Tough blow for Bedard owners but injuries should you knew he was injury prone when you drafted him. Hopefully this is just a minor early season setback and he returns on schedule and effective.

Projected Return: Late April – Early May

Al Reyes (Shoulder) – Reyes is headed to the DL with an impinged right shoulder. The team said Reyes will be out until at least late April but given his advanced age, we would suspect his DL stint will last longer.

Fantasy Impact: The Tampa pen has been ineffective and is now injury riddled with Reyes and Kurt Birkins both out. Dan Wheeler will slide into the role of primary 8th inning setup man with Reyes out and could be a decent source of holds.

Projected Return: May

On The Shelf…

Pedro Martinez (Hamstring) – Some conflicting reports on the severity of Pedro’s hamstring injury coming from Omar Minaya and Pedro himself. The GM says the team will be cautious with Pedro and likely hold him out beyond the original 6 week timetable that was set for his return. Meanwhile, Pedro told Dominican sources he is working hard, feels ahead of schedule and could return before the end of May.

Fantasy Impact: Pedro’s injury coupled with the extended absence of El Duque who is still fighting back from a foot injury means Mike Pelfrey and Nelson Figueroa are guaranteed around another month’s worth of starts. In the case of Pelfrey, he has pitched great thus far in April and is beginning to realize his potential. If the big righty continues to prosper, Hernandez may not be guaranteed a regular spot in the rotation upon his return and may land in the bullpen.

Projected Return: I like Pedro’s optimism but there is no way the Mets agree to rush the veteran pitcher back - Mid-May.

Back Later This Week…

Shawn Hill (Forearm) – The promising yet injury-riddled Nats’ youngster went 6 innings in a AAA rehab start and is scheduled to make his season debut Saturday against Florida.

Fantasy Impact: Hill is a guy we have always liked around FSE and has the potential to be an effective NL starter if he can stay healthy. He won’t win all that many games playing for a bad Nationals’ team but can be a good source of quality starts and ERA support.

Projected Return: Saturday at Florida

Yovani Gallardo (Knee Surgery) – Gallardo threw 90 pitched in a recent AAA rehab assignment and looked strong. He is scheduled to make his season debut Sunday at Cincinnati.

Fantasy Impact: Ned Yost has a decision to make regarding his starting rotation. Youngsters Carlos Villanueva and Manny Parra got off to hot starts filling in for Gallardo but have struggled of late while veteran Dave Bush has more or less struggled all season. One guy will be removed from the rotation upon Gallardo’s return and our money remains on Bush being moved to the pen… although we are not as confident about that call as we were a week ago. Stay tuned.

Projected Return: Making Season Debut Sunday at Cincinnati

On The Road Back…

Scott Kazmir (Elbow) – Kazmir threw two innings in extend spring training and will now make a rehab a class A rehab on Friday.

Fantasy Impact: Kazmir’s return will push James Shields and Matt Garza (upon his return) back a slot in the rotation adding to their value. Andy Sonnanstine and Edwin Jackson, who has pitched well in the early going, should round out the Rays’ rotation.

Projected Return: Early May

Mark Mulder (Shoulder) – Threw 63 pitches in his first Class A rehab start, allowing 1 earned run and 6 hits over 5 innings of work. Mulder also registered a strikeout but more importantly did not walk any batters.

Fantasy Impact: Mulder’s return is rapidly approaching. Given the way the Cardinals staff has performed, he has to be considered a solid sleeper going into May and a prime DL-stash candidate.

Projected Return: Early May

JJ Putz (Ribcage) – Putz threw off the mound Wednesday for the second time this week; however, the team still refuses to provide a definitive timetable for his return. He threw 41 pitches in a 10-minute bullpen session and reportedly felt fine afterwards; an encouraging sign.

Fantasy Impact: Mark Lowe appears to be the top closing option in the Mariners bullpen right now and could be a source of a few cheap saves while Putz is out.

Projected Return: With the way Seattle is handling their prized closer, he looks 1 ½ - 2 weeks away from returning. Think week 5 Putz owners.

Rafael Soriano (elbow) – Soriano is recovering well from elbow tendonitis. His DL date is retroactive to April 9th meaning he is eligible to return April 23-24 against Florida.

Fantasy Impact: With Peter Moylan down and possibly done (see below) Soriano will be asked to carry the load in the Braves’ pen. He will immediately return to his role as closer upon returning.

Projected Return: April 23-24 vs. Florida

Dontrelle Willis (Knee) – Hasn’t experienced any setbacks in recovering from a hyperextended knee outside of a 761 dollar fine, 50 hours community service and 6 months probation as a result of a DUI arrest.

Fantasy Impact: Willis was off to a rocky start before the injury. D-train owners are hoping he can regain his old form upon his return and that he has learned to know when to say when. With the Tigers beginning to roll, the Willis is a more attractive pitching option going forward and could be a nice buy low candidate right now.

Projected Return: Late April

John Lackey (Triceps) – Lackey threw a 40 pitch bullpen session and 20 pitches to live batters before Wednesday’s game. Lackey has now thrown 3 bullpen sessions in the past 2 weeks and his next moves will be a two inning simulated game Saturday followed by a Class A rehab assignment.
Fantasy Impact: Lackey owners and Angels fans eagerly await the return of the bonafide fantasy and real-life ace.

Projected Return: Early-Mid May

Rich Harden (Arm) – Harden has been shutdown and has not thrown in a week. However, the A’s say the righty is on schedule for a return in late April.

Fantasy Impact: Harden had strung together a series of great starts before going down with an arm injury. It is believed the injury is mild and the extended rest is more precautionary given his extensive injury history.

Projected Return: Best Case Scenario - April 25th-27th series at Seattle. More likely - Week 5.

Matt Garza (Elbow) – Garza felt no pain after a 30 pitch bullpen session Tuesday. Garza has said he feel great and will be ready to return as early as next Thursday, April 24.

Fantasy Impact: Garza is a talented young pitcher and will slot into the 3 slot once Kazmir returns from injury in early May.

Projected Return: April 25th-27th series vs. Boston

Mike Gonzalez (Elbow) – Gonzalez has been throwing live batting practice and is starting a rehab assignment in Florida as he closes on a return to the majors after missing nearly a year following Tommy John surgery.

Fantasy Impact: Given the state of the Atlanta bullpen with Peter Moylan down and Rafael Soriano being injury prone, Gonzalez could be in line to close at some point this season. He makes for a very under the radar DL stash candidate as he nears his return.

Projected Return: Early May

Fantasy Graveyard - Headed to Dr. James Andrews…

Fernando Rodney (Shoulder) – Rodney has struggled in his bullpen session and will now get his ailing shoulder checked out by Dr. Andrews.

Fantasy Impact: Rodney has been a good source of holds and a candidate to vulture saves in the past but I wouldn’t expect much from him in 2008.

Peter Moylan (Right Elbow Soreness) – Moylan felt the dreaded “twinge” in his elbow and is now extremely sore and headed for a visit with Dr. James Andrews.

Fantasy Impact: The Braves don’t sound to optimistic about their workhorse reliever and whatever the case, you can expect Moylan to miss a decent amount of time with the chance he is shutdown for the season. With oft-injured closer Soriano also out until at least Tuesday, Manny Acosta will likely be the best source of saves in the Braves bullpen for now. Reminder, keep an eye out for Mike Gonzalez!

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