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On a night when Roy Halladay apologized to Phillies fans for his lackluster performance and informed them that he would be out for the next three months due to shoulder surgery, Cardinals fans were treated to the joys of watching a young ace in the making build off of his already impressive start to his rookie season. The changing of the guard is always a bittersweet moment as the excitement of seeing a new up-and-comer is always tempered by witnessing the end of a legendary career. But it’s just the cycle of things in the world of baseball and, obviously nothing new, as there was a time when Halladay himself was a rookie and we were all watching Dwight Gooden wrap up his time spent in the major leagues. But while the nostalgia of a great career is always nice to pore over, we fantasy folk need to focus on the present and the future and that future is found in Shelby Miller.
As bad as some of the pitching performances have been this past week, and believe me, there have been some bad ones, none have stood out as much as Roy Halladay’s pair of debacles against the Cleveland Indians and Miami Marlins. The 2013 road had been a rocky one for Doc, but after three consecutive quality starts that saw him post a 1.71 ERA with a 16:5 K:BB over 21 innings, it looked as if things were getting back to normal. With a two-start week coming to wrap up the month of April and open May and match-ups against what appeared to be soft opponents, fantasy owners thought they were getting ready to cruise into the second month of the season. What they got was a whole lot of disgustingness shoved right up their fantasy team’s WHIP-hole.
One of the keys to a successful fantasy season is not just identifying which players are about to catch fire and embark on an impressive hot streak, but your ability as an owner to ride that streak and cut bait when it’s all said and done. All too often, we fall in love with our players, particularly the ones who are massively exceeding our expectations, and we tend to put false hope in numbers that, deep down, we know won’t last. We may hope they last, but we need to be realistic and understand that the law of averages is in play here and what goes up, usually comes back down. Sure, there are always exceptions to the rule, but for every one legitimate breakout, you’re looking at dozens of guys playing over their heads who will eventually see their lofty numbers normalize over time, some shorter than others. Understanding that fact and the ability to simply cut these hot players once they go cold is almost as much an art form as identifying the breakouts before they happen.
OK, yes, I saw the final strike called in the Texas/Tampa Bay game on Monday. Yes, it was an ugly call. Was it the worst call I’ve ever seen to end a game? Maybe. There have been so many over the years. But rather than dwell on something that has very little impact on your fantasy baseball team and will, in the grand scheme of things, mean absolutely nothing, I’d rather discuss something that may actually help you this season. I know it’s painful – like dentist chair painful – but let’s talk closers.
Every time we look up it seems like another player is hurt. Some of the players you could care less about, I didn't see anyone shed a tear when the Cubs announced that Ian Stewart's quad injury would cause him to miss Opening Day, but when the Dodgers started to tell us what the deal was with Zack Greinke's elbow, the Twitterverse went into a tizzy (Greinke might only misss one start from the sound of things). And that got me to thinking. I haven't written an article this year that deals directly with injured players and how we should treat those players in the fantasy game. Every player is different, some injuries are minor others major, but if we have a defined time-line for a return from injury, let's say 4-6 weeks as is the case with Chase Headley who we will discuss, what does that do to the value of the player in the fantasy game? If you've ever wondered how to think about injured players when trying to put together your fantasy squad, then this is the article for you.
Roy Halladay says he is healthy and ready to put last season behind him. Should you believe that? Will Mike Napoli be able to overcome concerns about his hips, get 500+ at-bats, and be a dominating fantasy catcher in 2013? With Frank Francisco's elbow barking, who are the Mets targeting to work the 9th inning in his place? Finally, what will the Indians do at the end of their rotation, and should you even care?
Well, with no feel-good story, no big rookie call-up, and no big trade to report, it makes me just want to sit here and start gushing about Mike Trout some more. I happened to be watching Friday’s Angels/Mariners game and again, this kid just does it all. The Angels are down 5-0 in the third because for some inane reason they still let Ervin Santana start games, and in the bottom half of the inning, Trout steps up with two men on and BAM! Smacks a three-run shot over the fence to put the Angels back into the game.
With some of the pitching performances we’ve seen over the past week – Matt Cain’s perfect game, R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball madness, and Ryan Dempster’s 15 straight shutout innings just to name a few, fantasy owners tend to get lulled into a false sense of security. Just when everything seems to be going your way and your pitching staff looks invincible…BAM!!!! The injury bug swoops on in and takes a huge bite out of your rotation’s proverbial ass.
If it hasn’t already happened yet, it will, so you’re going to want to make sure you stay prepared. But with yesterday’s news that Roy Halladay would miss six to eight weeks with a lat muscle problem and that he was being joined on the DL by Jered Weaver due to a back strain and that Roy Oswalt was signing with the Rangers likely bringing Neftali Feliz’ time as a starter to a close, your waiver wire should be a hotbed of action. Pitchers are going to start getting picked up at a rapid rate as owners begin to worry about the starters they stream and the apparent lack of depth available at this point in the season. Now obviously there’s no reason to panic, but would I grab an extra starter or two, someone half decent to stash away and leave on my bench? Absolutely. I wouldn’t do it if it came at the expense of a better offensive choice and I wasn’t in dire need, but if the league is fairly deep and you have the bench space, then I don’t think it would hurt to have an extra arm or two available – for your own use or even for trade. It’s just a matter of keeping up with the trends and keeping yourself covered. We’re only a third of the way through the season, so with so much baseball still to go, any little advantage helps.
Happy Memorial Day to you all! With a full slate of games and an early start here for the holiday, you’ve got to get those lineups in quickly before you disappear to the land of no work and lots of BBQ’s. No reason to delay you with a real wordy intro as I’ve go tto get those steaks marinating as well, so let’s just get to the Sunday wrap…