Fantasy baseball news: Cliff Lee joins long list of injured starters
In our daily fantasy baseball news and notes column, we'll be discussing hot topics in the fantasy baseball world, as well as offering up tidbits of information to help you set your lineup. Comments are welcome below.
On a night when Trevor Bauer outdueled Justin Verlander, Adam Wainwright threw a complete game one-hitter and Chris Davis hit three home runs, the biggest fantasy news was almost the injury to Cliff Lee, which had the potential to be yet another catastrophic setback to a pitcher this season. Lee was placed on the 15-day disabled list with an elbow strain, but the good news is that an MRI revolved nothing serious, and he's expected to be back on the field in a few weeks.
However, there is a larger theme to all this -- is still worth it to shell out big bucks on draft day to starting pitchers, given the alarming rate at which they're getting hurt? Already, we've seen pitchers like Clayton Kershaw, Cole Hamels, Chris Sale, Yu Darvish, Gio Gonzalez, Mat Latos, Matt Cain, Alex Cobb, Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, Hisashi Iwakuma, Hyun-jin Ryu, Mike Minor and Jose Fernandez take trips to the DL. Meanwhile, relative nobodies like Drew Pomeranz, Tim Hudson, Jason Hammel, Scott Kazmir, Rick Porcello and Dallas Keuchel have been just as good as some of the elite pitchers in baseball. Tyson Ross, Garrett Richards and Aaron Harang are all having better seasons than Madison Bumgarner.
It's obvious that good pitching is a must for a winning fantasy squad; many a team has fallen by going all-in with hitting, only to realize too late that pitching accounts for half of the categories and that their team is complete garbage. But this year, the scales have been tipped enough that teams with only one or two good pitchers are probably getting by much more than they might have in years past. These things are cyclical -- it was only a few years ago that we were stuck in the "Year of the Pitcher." It's still worth it to invest money in guys like Darvish and Kershaw who, when healthy, are stone cold locks to be great. But there are fewer stone-cold pitchers to rely on on these days, what with the injuries and the parity. Who knows if this will be a full-season trend or not, but if these injuries keep piling up, it might be time to look at this as a trend, and something to keep in the back of your head when it gets to draft time in 2015.
For your consideration
• Carl Crawford had a terrific evening versus the Mets, going 2-for-4 with three runs and two stolen bases. Crawford hasn't done much since he got to Los Angeles, and with Dee Gordon and Yasiel Puig raking, he's probably locked in at the No. 6 slot in the Dodgers lineup for the foreseeable future. Still, somewhere in that .280 average is an extremely talented hitter who can be useful when he's healthy, and he's recorded a hit in the last 11 games he's started in. He's not a must-own player anymore, but he's definitely worth using when he's rolling like this.
• Rafael Montero got hit hard by the Dodgers, allowing five runs, seven hits and four walks in 4.1 innings. Montero's claim to fame in the minors was his impeccable control, but through two career starts, he's already allowed three home runs and six walks. Now sporting a 6.97 ERA and a 1.74 WHIP, the Mets prospect can be safely ignored in every league under the sun.
• Playing in his first game in almost three weeks, David Freese went 2-for-4 with four RBI. Freese's numbers may not be pretty -- a .213 average with two homers and 12 RBI -- but a lot of that has to do with him being hurt. Despite his lackluster 2013 year and his dismal start to 2014, Freese still has a chance to be a tolerable deep-league option at third base. Of course, there's no need to even consider adding him until he tallies a few more multi-RBI games.
• The Cardinals' hitters didn't need to do much with Wainwright throwing a one-hitter, but Jhonny Peralta stepped up to provide more than enough offense, going 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI. Very quietly, Peralta is second in home runs among major league shortstops with nine, trailing only Troy Tulowitzki's 13. Peralta may not be a shortstop you'll love running out there on a daily basis -- especially with his .252 ERA -- but he's a steady home run hitter in the vein (formerly) of J.J. Hardy, who was this same player only a few years ago. There just aren't many shortstops capable of hitting 20 homers, and Peralta is well on his way to doing just that. So while you shouldn't be throwing people overboard to start him, he's a more than serviceable placeholder.
• With Matt Lindstrom being placed on the disabled list with an ankle malady, Ronald Belisario converted a ninth inning save on Tuesday despite allowing a run and two hits. Belisario is now the favorite to close out games for the White Sox in Lindstrom's absence, but I wouldn't rush out to add him if I were you. Belisario comes from the Jose Valverde/Jose Mesa/Kevin Gregg style of relievers, which is to invoke as much disaster as humanly possible over the course of a single inning. Even if he is the official fill-in, he'll probably cede the job to Daniel Webb or Jake Petricka in due time, which makes the White Sox closing situation one to avoid altogether at the moment.
• Sean Doolittle completed his third save of the season, receiving the vote of confidence from manager Bob Melvin after the game. For whatever reason, left-handed relievers are almost never played in the ninth inning, but with Lindstrom out, the only active exceptions are Aroldis Chapman and possibly Zach Britton. But now Doolittle can be added to that list, and after not allowing a run in his last 10 innings, it's well-deserved. Doolittle should be owned in all leagues at this point, as Jim Johnson is probably never getting the closer job back.
• Denard Span had a massive night, going 5-for-5 with two runs, two RBI and a stolen base. Even for a designated base-stealer, Span only gets about 20 in a year, and any home runs he hits are pure gifts. Even after a line like this, and even though he's locked in as the Nats' leadoff hitter, he just isn't a viable option in standard leagues.