Even though there were two games played in Australia over a week ago and then there was a Sunday night game to kick off the North American portion of the MLB schedule, none of them truly felt like Opening Day. That is reserved for a Monday afternoon when hope springs eternal for all Major League Baseball teams and fantasy GM’s who think they are going to win it all this season.
Over the past few years, there has been an increased premium put on pitching in leagues of all formats. This is part and parcel to the decrease in offensive production as a result of drug testing, as well other environmental factors. But along with this increased emphasis in pitching comes more inherent risk thanks to the propensity of injuries.
This is the first edition of the Injury Report during the regular season, so we are going to start with a bunch of pitchers who have recently sustained injuries or have just been placed on the DL wrecking your fantasy strategy faster than you can say Saltalamacchia. So without further adieu, here is the Opening Day edition of the fantasy baseball pitching Injury Report
Clayton Kershaw (SP-LAD)
As if seeing Yu Darvish land on the disabled list wasn’t traumatic enough, now fantasy baseball GM’s are lamenting the fact that reigning National League Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw is sidelined as well. After pitching extremely well in Australia, Kershaw complained about discomfort in his back and did not improve when he tried throwing again this weekend. The good news is that the move is backdated to March 23 meaning he is eligible to return on April 7 which would make him a two-start pitcher in Week 2. However, the Dodgers will not rush their $300 million investment back so it would not be surprising if he wasn’t activated right away. Just because it is not an injury to his shoulder, elbow or forearm doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be concerned. There is no truth to the rumor that Kershaw injured himself participating in a kangaroo race down under.
Cole Hamels (SP-PHI)
You don’t ever want to hear that an ace pitcher is dealing with shoulder inflammation, but that is exactly the case for Cole Hamels. He has already been placed on the disabled list and is not expected to make his season debut with the Phillies until late April. There were initial reports stating that it might be May before he returns. However, we need to closely monitor Hamels’ progress before we can conclude whether he is a temporary stash or a long-term albatross.
Doug Fister (SP-WAS)
After being acquired from Detroit during the off-season, Doug Fister was supposed to give the Nationals one of the deepest and most talented starting rotations in the whole league. However, he missed several weeks in spring training with elbow inflammation. After overcoming that, Fister then sustained a lat strain which landed him on the disabled list. The initial timetable for his return is around one month, but chances are it will be longer than that since he hasn’t thrown much during spring training and needs to build his endurance and arm strength back.
Tim Lincecum (SP-SF)
This past week, Tim Lincecum was hit in his left leg by a line drive and was removed from the game and taken for x-rays. Fortunately they came back negative. But it is unclear at this point when or if Lincecum will make his regular season debut this week. A stint on the disabled list is a distinct possibility, but it hasn’t happened as of yet. Lincecum is a sleeper this year coming off of two consecutive poor seasons. The Giants showed enough faith in him by re-signing him to a two-year/$35M contract. That faith has been and will continue to be tested by fantasy GM’s especially in light of this injury.
Hisashi Iwakuma (SP-SEA)
The Mariners placed Hisashi Iwakuma on the disabled list over a week ago with a finger injury. Iwakuma will reportedly throw a bullpen session within ten days, so it looks like he is on track for his recovery and rehab. He likely won’t be activated until May assuming he has no setbacks. Iwakuma emerged as a solid fantasy pitcher in 2013 so he is worth stashing if your league has sufficient DL slots.
Casey Janssen (RP-TOR)
The Blue Jays placed closer Casey Janssen on the disabled list with a mild back strain which he suffered this past week against the Mets. Toronto doesn’t expect him to miss any time beyond the requisite 15 days. In the interim, former closer Sergio Santos will take over and is worth adding in all fantasy leagues.
If you are wondering the best way to evaluate arms such as these so that you can find these “gems” on the mound, I've got just the thing for you. It's the 2014 Fantasy Alarm Draft Guide powered by BaseballGuys. There are a couple of articles detailing exactly how you can go about finding bargains on players in 2014.
Michael A. Stein, Esq. is the Chief Justice of Fantasy Judgment, the industry's premier dispute resolution service. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook and Twitter (@FantasyJudgment),
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@StevenHenry15 Stay put. Forte is elite and Jennings may not be back until Week 10 at the earliest.