Athlon Sports goes around the diamond to help get your fantasy team ready for this weekend's action
Two more aces went down earlier this week as both the Phillies’ Roy Halladay and the Angels’ Jered Weaver were placed on the disabled list. Six pitchers who started their team’s first game of the season are now either currently on the DL or have already been on it at some point this season. The Opening Day starters currently on the DL are Oakland’s Brandon McCarthy and the White Sox’ John Danks, while Colorado’s Jeremy Guthrie and the Cubs’ Ryan Dempster have already spent time on the DL.
And that list doesn’t include the other starting pitchers who either started the season on the DL (Chris Carpenter, Tim Hudson, etc.) or are currently on it (Doug Fister, Ted Lilly, Cory Luebke, Jeff Niemann, etc.). Needless to say it’s safe to assume that everyone’s starting rotation has already been impacted at some point this season by injury.
Then again it’s one thing to lose a starting pitcher; it’s another to lose a two-time Cy Young Award winner like Halladay or a potential future recipient like Weaver. To be fair, Halladay (4-5, 3.98 ERA) hasn’t pitched up to his lofty standards to this point, but perhaps the strain that was discovered in his right shoulder earlier this week is to blame for that. Regardless, Halladay is expected to be shut down for a minimum of three weeks before he starts making his way back to the Phillies’ rotation.
The Angels hope that Weaver, who was placed on the DL on Tuesday with a lower back strain, spasms and disc inflammation, will not miss near that amount of time. Weaver (6-1, 2.61 ERA) was off to another solid start before lasting just 12 pitches on Monday against the Yankees. The team is optimistic that Weaver will miss at most three starts.
Either way, both aces will be out for a while and owners of either will have to look to the waiver wire for short-term replacements. One possibility to keep in mind, especially should either Halladay or Weaver end up being sidelined for more than a month is veteran Roy Oswalt. Oswalt signed a minor league contract with Texas on Tuesday.
The right-hander, who is 34 and went 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA last season with Philadelphia, plans on making three or four starts in the minors before joining the Rangers’ rotation. The Rangers have an opening because Neftali Feliz, last year’s closer turned starter, went on the DL on May 21 with a sprained elbow ligament. Even if Feliz is able to return at some point this season, he is certainly capable of making the transition back to the bullpen.
If not Oswalt, some other starting pitchers that could fit the bill as a short-term substitute include Arizona’s Wade Miley (6-1, 2.41 ERA), Boston’s Felix Doubront (5-2, 3.86 ERA), Kansas City’s Felipe Paulino (2-1, 2.03 ERA), Miami’s Mark Buehrle (5-4, 3.26 ERA) and Carlos Zambrano (3-3, 3.00 ERA), Oakland’s Tommy Milone (6-4, 3.64 ERA), San Francisco’s Ryan Vogelsong (3-2, 2.36 ERA), and Seattle’s Jason Vargas (6-4, 3.45 ERA). Each of these pitchers is owned in less than 70 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
As we headed into May, fantasy owners were wondering aloud if sluggers like Giancarlo Stanton, Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols would ever get their acts together and start producing more along the lines of where they were drafted or big board rankings. Now as we enter June and the dog days of summer those same owners are wishing that May wouldn’t end.
Stanton finished April with one home run and nine RBIs, while batting just .247 thanks in part to just four walks compared to 20 strikeouts. Not surprisingly, the Marlins were 8-14 and in last place in the NL East as of April 30.
In May, all Stanton did was crush 12 home runs in 108 at-bats to go along with 10 doubles, 30 RBIs and 23 runs scored, while batting .343 with a respectable 25:16 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Consequently, the Marlins went 21-8 in May, setting a franchise record for wins and putting them just a half-game behind Washington for first place in the NL East.
Meanwhile, Holliday got off to a rough start in April, posting a .215-4-13 line in the first month causing many to wonder if the Cardinals’ highest-paid player would be the same after the departure of Pujols. Holliday has turned things around quite nicely, batting .340 in May with six home runs, 21 RBIs and 25 runs scored.
And speaking of The Machine, although he’s not back to the old Albert in terms of his production at the plate, at least he showed signs in May that he’s more than just old Albert. After going homerless with a measly four RBIs in April, Pujols hit eight home runs in May and drove in 24.
His batting average stands at just .243 entering June, but he’s been sizzling as of late, hitting .429 with four home runs over the last seven days. As Pujols has gotten warmer at the plate, so have the Angels. After being seven games under .500 at the end of April, the Angels went 18-11 in May to even up their record.
Here are a few of May’s other outstanding fantasy performers:
OF Josh Hamilton, TEX .344, 19 R, 12 HR, 32 RBI, 2 SB, 1.186 OPS
OF Melky Cabrera, SF .429, 24 R, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 4 SB, 1.104 OPS
OF Carlos Gonzalez, COL .336, 23 R, 9 HR, 23 RBI, 3 SB, 1.093 OPS
OF Adam Jones, BAL .298, 20 R, 10 HR, 22 RBI, 4 SB, .985 OPS
OF Carlos Beltran, STL .326, 15 R, 10 HR, 31 RBI, 1 SB, 1.117 OPS
OF Mike Trout, LAA .324, 21 R, 5 HR, 16 RBI, 8 SB, .941 OPS
OF Andrew McCutchen, PIT .360, 16 R, 8 HR, 18 RBI, 5 SB, 1.133 OPS
OF Dayan Viciedo, CWS .351, 18 R, 8 HR, 24 RBI, .995 OPS
C Carlos Ruiz, PHI .418, 16 R, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 2 SB, 1.180 OPS
RP Santiago Casilla, SF 1 W, 10 SV, 12 K, 1.26 ERA, 0.98 WHIP in 14 1/3 IP
RP Aroldis Chapman, CIN 2 W, 3 SV, 3 HLD, 23 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.44 WHIP in 13 2/3 IP
SP Gio Gonzalez, WAS 5 W, 45 K, 2.25 ERA, 0.94 WHIP in 32 IP
SP Cole Hamels, PHI 5 W, 42 K, 2.25 ERA, 1.00 WHIP in 44 IP
RP Chris Perez, CLE 10 SV, 13 K, 1.59 ERA, 0.79 WHIP in 11 1/3 IP
RP Fernando Rodney, TB 1 W, 9 SV, 15 K, 1.23 ERA, 0.68 WHIP in 14 2/3 IP
Other DL News
*Matt Kemp’s return from the DL didn’t last very long. Kemp reinjured his left hamstring on Wednesday night against the Brewers while scoring from first on a first-inning double by Andre Ethier. Kemp had just been activated from the DL on Tuesday and it’s all but certain he’s headed back there again, and this time it will probably be longer than a 15-day stint.
*Troy Tulowitzki left last night’s game against Houston in the seventh inning with what the team has said is a strained left groin. It seems a foregone conclusion that Tulowitzki will miss at minimum a few games, starting with tonight’s series finale against the Astros, but it probably wouldn’t hurt for Tulo owners to start scanning the waiver wire so they can be ready to pounce if he ends up on the DL.
*The Dodgers were dealt another blow earlier this week when the team had to place veteran left-hander Ted Lilly on the DL with shoulder inflammation. Lilly (5-1, 3.14 ERA) was off to a solid start and the team hopes he will be able to return to the mound on June 8 against Seattle, the first day he is eligible to come off of the 15-day DL.
*Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia has missed the last two games and is probably out for tonight’s series finale against Detroit because of a torn abductor muscle in his right thumb. The team is looking for a way, such as wearing a padded brace, that will allow Pedroia to play through with the injury; otherwise he’s looking at a three- to four-week stay on the DL.
*Baltimore outfielders Adam Jones and Nick Markakis are both dealing with wrist injuries. Jones was struck in the wrist by a pitch on Wednesday night, but X-rays revealed no bones were broken. He may not start in Friday night’s opener in Tampa Bay, but at this point he is not expected to miss an extended amount of time. That may not be the case with Markakis who was held out of the Orioles’ lineup on Wednesday because of soreness in his right wrist. He was scheduled to visit a specialist on Thursday to determine the extent of the damage and his playing condition.