Let's hook up the EKG and check on the health of pitchers around the league (we'll use 220 or 221, whatever it takes).
Antonio Bastardo (PHI): With the pickup of Cliff Lee, the arrival of Pedro Martinez, the impending return of Brett Myers, and the bullpen demotion of Jamie Moyer, no one is crying about Bastardo being out. Or perhaps they are, as you can cry and not feel sad just like you can feel sad and not cry. Don't count on Bastardo returning to the rotation this year.
Chad Billingsley (LAD): Billingsley will miss his next start, due to hamstring problems that have shortened two of his starts already. He's not a candidate for the DL, but anything that hurts his stamina hurts his ratios. Keep an eye on this one, but keep him active.
Dave Bush (MIL): Bush's ERA is high for his WHIP, but he was 0-4 in his last six starts before hitting the DL. He could come back in a week, but he won't be productive enough for you to pick him up.
Aaron Cook (COL): Cook will skip a start with turf toe. Hopefully it's not anything worse than that. Regardless, let's see if Colorado gives Jhoulys Chacin a start to see what he can do.
Phil Dumatrait (PIT): The lefty had a bad start in rehab, which could push back his return date. Does that affect your team at all? Hope not.
Tim Hudson (ATL): Hudson has had more days off than Ferris Bueller, but may be only two weeks away from returning. Despite being a good pitcher for a good team he's only a year removed from Tommy John surgery. That means don't pick him up this year, but store him away as a keeper for '10. Sure, he could help you this season, but remember, he gets few strikeouts and he's already had one setback (groin) this season.
Mike Hampton (HOU): He's not known for playing through pain, so any "day-to-day" type injury -- like his current meniscus tear in his knee -- means he's probably DL bound. His current ratios harken back to his days in Colorado, which aren't pitching days you want to harken back to. Let him stay on vacation and don't pick him up.
Randy Johnson (SF): The Big Unit could be back by September and has said he would pitch out of the bullpen if necessary. That's about as appetizing an option as a nice greasy pork sandwich served in a dirty ashtray. It's safe to drop him.
Ted Lilly (CHC): Lilly had arthroscopic surgery on his knee and also had shoulder pain. He now claims no pain, but it's going to be a function of how well Tom Gorzelanny pitches. People traveled on planes, trains and automobiles to tell me how wrong I was about calling the Cubs trade a head-scratcher. Okay, you felt good after Gorzelanny's start against Cincinnati. But Monday night the real Gorzelanny got shelled by the Rockies. Assume Lilly gets back in the rotation sooner rather than later. If someone got itchy and dropped Lilly, pick him up (Lilly, not the itchy, droppy guy in your league).
John Maine (NYM): The Mets rotation is lost in New York with pitchers dropping like flies. Maine has the dreaded "shoulder weakness" which means his owners are in a holding pattern until he declares his shoulder isn't weak any more. Don't count on him this season.
Jon Niese (NYM): What an ugly injury that was. He's done for this year.
Fernando Nieve (NYM): Three Mets in a row. They just can't keep these guys healthy. I'd keep him for $1 for next year, but not expect anything this season.
Scott Olsen (WAS): Olsen had successful labrum surgery, so he's done for the year. We're just not sure if he'll be ready for spring training. Don't keep him.
Roy Oswalt (HOU): Oswalt was rehabilitating his season and had a great July until he hurt his back. Not to be seen as a layabout, Roy mush have gotten a medical degree during his time off as he has now declared himself healthy and ready to pitch this week. Expect the Astros to pull him early if he shows any control or fatigue problems. You should give him a couple of starts before putting him back in your lineup.
Micah Owings (CIN): Owings should be ready to return to the Reds this week, which will help both an ailing rotation and the Reds pinch-hitting corps. Awful outings in Philly and L.A. are killing his ratios, but he'd probably a 1.45 WHIP/5.00 ERA option for the rest of the year.
Anibal Sanchez (FLA): Sanchez's strong rehab appearance last week was encouraging, however, he's 1-4 with a 1.77 WHIP with the Marlins this year. He likely makes it back this season, but he's not worth it, not even in NL-only leagues. And don't keep him for '10, either.
Jason Schmidt (LAD): You won't catch me saying anything bad about Schmidt. He plays with pain, he's played for bad teams without complaining, and he doesn't shy away from the big game. If he has one fault, though, it's listening to his heart rather than his head. This is likely the end for Schmidt, so don't worry about picking him up if he returns from the DL.
Jeff Suppan (MIL): His owners (and hence the owners of his 1.70 WHIP) must think he's some kind of wonderful to hit the DL. Hopefully giving up 15 runs to the Pirates and Nationals in consecutive starts was enough for you to have dropped him already.
Edison Volquez (CIN): Volquez had Tommy John surgery in June and should be off your radar for '10. But don't you forget about him and pick him up as a keeper for '11 towards the end of the '10 season.
Chris Young (SD): A bad week if you're named Chris Young. You're either playing CF in Reno or you're done for the year. The one that pitches for the Padres is done for the year. With his injury history, I wouldn't even save him for '10.
Carlos Zambrano (CHC): Fans from Cicero to Shermer are moaning over another possible lost year for the Cubbies. The Cards are opening up a lead and the rotation is hurting. Z-Man is on the DL with a bad back and that 1.35 WHIP is not why you drafted him. He can come back as early as next week, and of course should be started. But his season has to be considered as a big a disappointment as having your family forget your sixteenth birthday.
Jordan Zimmerman (WAS): Zimmerman visited Dr. James Andrews and the prognosis is Tommy John surgery which means his season is over, he's not worth keeping, and won't be back until '11.
Erik Bedard (SEA): Bedard made 15 starts in '08, and likely only makes 15 this season. Dr. Lewis Yokum found fraying in Bedard's shoulder. When you see the words " Dr. Yokum" and "fraying" in the same sentence (kinda like "Dr. Andrews" and "visit" -- see Zimmerman, Jordan) you know it's time to pack up. Don't count on Bedard this season, and with two consecutive injury-filled seasons, he's not worth keeping, but think sleeper pick if he lasts past the 12th round in next year's mixed draft.
Dallas Braden (OAK): Braden has a foot infection which likely means he comes back from the DL on time (mid-August) and should be a viable option for your staph, er, staff. Just keep in mind he plays for a weak team and won't give you strikeouts. If you really want an A's pitcher, get Gio Gonzalez who is to pitching right now like Beethoven composed music.
Jeremy Bonderman (DET): Bonderman has had shoulder problems since June but is currently on a rehab assignment. He could be back by the end of this month. However, he's only had one (horrible) start for the Tigers, and hasn't had a year with an ERA below 5.00 or a WHIP below 1.50 since '06. He likely doesn't have much to contribute.
Brett Cecil (TOR): Cecil has a couple of tears in his MCL, but the Blue Jays are saying he's only going to miss a start. Sure he's 5-1, but his WHIP is over 1.50. Plus, I'm always dubious about the "no surgery/let's wait and see" treatment. Since you remember the Blue Jays play the Red Sox and Yankees a lot this September you'll forget about him.
Bartolo Colon (CWS): Colon kept his hurt elbow a secret from the White Sox staff which made an enemy of Ozzie Guillen. That means Colon won't be pitching for the White Sox any time soon.
Justin Duchscherer (OAK): Dutch is trying to return this year, and could very well be back by September. However, as a starter he won't help you in strikeouts, his ratios will be high as he tries to regain his form, and with the A's, he at most gives you two wins. Forget about him this year, but put him on your sleeper list for '10.
Kelvim Escobar (LAA): Are you really counting on Kelvim to bounce back and carry you through September? He's suffered more setbacks than the U.S. Economy, and of those two, he's not the one I expect to rebound (one can dream, right?). The only question is whether he is worth keeping. Since I doubt the Angels have any more patience for his injuries they'll likely give up on him (as should you).
Rich Hill (BAL): hill is done for the season. He'll have lots of time to enjoy the great outdoors. No comeback this year.
Casey Janssen (TOR): If Janssen returns, he will head to the bullpen. Bye-bye fantasy value. Bye-bye Casey.
Shaun Marcum (TOR): Obviously it's something in that supposedly clear, cool Canadian water. Marcum has had a setback but still may return this month. Remember the Blue Jays schedule and just stay away.
Daisuke Matsuzaka (BOS): Dice-K has gone from throwing on flat ground to a bullpen session, which means a guy making $8 million dollars for a 2.20 WHIP could make it back this season. With his walk rate he's had to make more escapes than the Count of Monte Cristo. Even playing for the Red Sox it's hard to see him contributing to a fantasy team this season.
Brandon McCarthy (TEX): McCarthy will be on a rehab assignment in Triple A for a few weeks. Refreshingly, manager Ron Washington has said he doesn't want McCarthy to return with a pitch count so he shouldn't come back until he's 100% ready. He has mediocre ratios, but plays for a strong team that could sneak into the playoffs this year. Keep an eye on him.
Gil Meche (KC): Meche should be back this week, but speaking of weak, he plays for the Royals. Plus, he's 0-4 in his last five starts. He has some value in AL-only, but not in mixed.
Dustin Moseley (LAA): Perhaps Moseley's been sitting too close to Escobar as he has been a cornucopia of ailments this year. He's thrown less than 15 innings in '09, which means he won't be a factor this season, but for those of you needing a starter in September, keep an eye on him as career opportunities could sneak him back into the rotation.
Josh Outman (OAK): Here's a guy living up to his name as Tommy John surgery means he'll be out until next year. However, TJ surgery takes a good 18 months for recovery. So take him off your radar for '10, but if he's available in a keeper league late in '10, pick him up for a Buck and store him away for '11.
Jake Peavy (SD): The White Sox claim things are Duckie and Peavy could join the team after three rehab starts. That would be a shot in the arm to the White Sox, but it likely takes Peavy all September to get back into major league form and to get used to pitching in the AL. He's worth having, but don't expect the 2.00 ERA.
Glen Perkins (MIN): Perkins isn't on the DL yet, but with a sore shoulder, he likely will be. After picking up Carl Pavano, the Twins can sit Perkins and get him healthy. However, he hasn't pitched that well lately and probably won't help you if he does get healthy.
Joe Saunders (LAA): Saunder's having nebulous shoulder problems, which makes a timetable for return iffy. He hasn't given up less than four earned runs since late June, so he's not worth storing away.
Kevin Slowey (MIN): Kevin! Well, Mr. Slowey is done for the year after wrist surgery. He's worth keeping for '10, though, and a nice sleeper pickup in mixed leagues next year.
Koji Uehara (BAL): Uehara is working towards returning in September, but the Orioles have already said if he does, he'll go to the bullpen. That means he has no fantasy value for the rest of the year. But then again, name an Orioles pitcher that does.
Chien-Ming Wang (NYY): Wang is done for '09, which we likely could have said back in April. I said he'd be a viable option later in the season, but I was wrong. I wouldn't keep him for '10, but I would monitor his progress in spring training.
Tim Wakefield (BOS): Wakefield has a nerve problem that first affected his calf and now impacts his back. He's throwing okay, but can't throw for an extended period of time. I can't imagine the Red Sox will be too patient after giving up four games to the Yankees. Expect him back soon.
Dontrelle Willis (DET): Word is Willis should be back this season, but only the lonely know what it's like to fight mental illness. Even when he was with the team he wasn't pitching well. Leave him on the waiver wire.
If you thought my syntax was curious and my references forced this week (well, more curious and forced than usual), I was remembering John Hughes, the director/writer/producer of just about every movie I liked in high school. I've made at least 15 references -- I keep losing count -- to his movies. So let's turn for home with the parting words from his best picture:
"You see us as you want to see us...In the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain...and an athlete...and a basket case...a princess...and a criminal. Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, The Breakfast Club."
Thank you, Mr. Hughes. Save Ferris!