Erik Bedard just might be able to debunk the long-held fantasy axiom there isn't life -- in baseball terms -- after shoulder surgery. Just maybe. The next month is going to prove critical.
It has taken him almost two full calendar years, and he still is likely to break down, but fantasy owners are thankful they are getting something out of a low-end starter off the scrap heap. Bedard just completed a May which saw him go 2-0 with a 1.39 ERA and .196 batting-average against.
His fantasy ownership is approaching 90 percent now and he looks like a must-start in all leagues for Fantasy Week 10 (June 6-12).
The question has to be how long can this Bedard run last? If you follow the Billy Beane school of scouting arms -- history of work/history of injury -- Bedard is approaching his breakdown threshold.
In Baltimore from 2004-'07, Bedard was around a 25-start pitcher. In Seattle from '08 on, Bedard has proven to be no more than a 15-start pitcher. Now, through 10 starts, he has five left for fantasy owners. Basically, just the month of June.
It is a good time to ride Bedard for a few more starts and then sell him off to the highest bidder. He is at 58 innings, and before missing all of 2010, he was only able to get to 83 and 81 innings through 15 starts in each of '09 and '08.
It shouldn't necessarily surprise anyone Bedard is pitching fairly well. It will be a true shock if he can make it into the summer months healthy.
Here are some of fantasy's most-owned pitchers dealing with injuries on the DL right now:
1. Josh Johnson (shoulder), Marlins, 97 percent ownership -- Johnson is ready to throw a bullpen session, but he is a long shot to return before Fantasy Week 11 (June 13-19) at this point.
2. Matt Garza (elbow), Cubs, 92 percent -- He is hopeful to get through some bullpen sessions before a return next weekend. He is too risky to trust as a start in Fantasy Week 10 (June 6-12), though.
3. Francisco Liriano (shoulder), Twins, 89 percent -- He is hoping to throw bullpen sessions with designs on returning early this upcoming week. You're best off letting him prove healthy and effective before trusting him. He was shaky before the injury anyway.
4. Wandy Rodriguez (elbow), Astros, 87 percent -- Rodriguez is deeper into a throwing program than any of the above, but he is just as risky to trust before seeing him healthy for the Astros. Keep him reserved one more week.
5. Kyle McClellan (hip), Cardinals, 73 percent -- He went on the DL to slow him down for a couple of weeks. This is a blessing in disguise, because McClellan was piling up innings quickly in his transition to starting from the bullpen. This shutdown will allow him to be more effective later for fantasy owners.
6. Brandon Beachy (oblique), Braves, 64 percent -- Beachy could be rushed back the next time the Braves need a No. 5 starter June 11, but it is more likely they give another spot start to Mike Minor or Julio Teheran. Beachy should be good to go thereafter for fantasy.
7. Johan Santana (shoulder), Mets, 62 percent -- Yes, that guy. He is hoping to throw batting practice in mid-June, which could put him on a path to return to the majors in late July. With the history of shoulder injuries, it is still a long shot.
8. Phil Hughes (shoulder), Yankees, 59 percent -- He is ready to throw his own live BP, which could send him on a rehab assignment in a week or so. He is going to need at least a few weeks in the minors before possibly being activated in early July.
9. John Lackey (elbow), Red Sox, 57 percent -- He is ready to return Sunday. He was struggling mightily before going on the DL, though, so let him get a few good starts under his belt before you risk starting him in mixed formats.
10. Homer Bailey (shoulder), Reds, 55 percent -- He needed to give his shoulder a break, but he has maintained a throwing program, so he could return shortly. His history of shoulder woes in recent years makes you wonder if he will ever prove to be a 200-inning, 30-plus starter. He might be the right-handed Bedard.
Now, on to the rest of our weekly report that breaks down all of the two-start pitcher options and outlines some of the fringy one-start matchups to take advantage of:
Outside of the obvious pitchers, here are some matchups to capitalize on this week and some to avoid, with the pitcher in question identified in italics.
Monday, June 6
Matchup to exploit: Max Scherzer, DET (6-2, 4.38) at Colby Lewis TEX (5-5, 3.48)
After a scorching start, Scherzer has cooled terribly. He has posted an ERA over 10.00 in his past three starts and draws the Rangers in his first of two starts. Well, here is a vote of confidence for the struggling right-hander. Scherzer has handled the potent Rangers well in his young career, posting a 2-0 record and 2.42 ERA in four starts. Keep Scherzer active, despite the slump.
Matchup to avoid: Zack Greinke, MIL (4-1, 5.29) at Javier Vazquez, FLA (3-4, 6.02)
On the other end of the spectrum from Scherzer is Vazquez, who started slowly and has picked it up of late. Here is a vote of no confidence for the streaky Marlins right-hander. Vazquez has an ERA under 3.00 in his past three starts but he has an ERA approaching 5.00 in his 16 career starts against the Brewers. It is not yet time to trust Vazquez again in mixed leagues.
Tuesday, June 7
Matchup to exploit: Ubaldo Jimenez, COL (1-5, 4.98) at Tim Stauffer, SD (1-4, 3.99)
Reports of Jimenez's demise have been greatly exaggerated. He is far better than he has been given credit for of late. He is coming off his first victory of the season and is right back in the must-start category of pitchers, regardless of the matchups. This is a real, real favorable one, too. His start percentage of 64 percent should be far closer to his ownership of 97 percent.
Matchup to avoid: Kyle Drabek, TOR (3-4, 4.69) at Sean O'Sullivan, KC (2-5, 6.92)
This should have been a good time to jump back on the Drabek bandwagon. The struggling rookie is coming off a start where he couldn't get out of the first inning. The tricky part is the Royals are a team to take advantage of here. O'Sullivan is the worst starting pitcher in the major leagues right now, especially with his 14.21 ERA in his past three starts. You still cannot trust Drabek to stay in the game long enough to win, though, for your fantasy team.
Wednesday, June 8
Matchup to exploit: Jason Vargas, SEA (3-3, 4.50) at Gavin Floyd, CHW (6-5, 3.84)
While John Danks (0-8) has been a mess for the White Sox, Floyd has held up pretty well. Floyd is 2-1 with a 2.61 ERA in his past three starts and he gets a one-start matchup against the offensively weak Mariners. Floyd is a much better option with his one start than Danks is in his two-start week.
Matchup to avoid: Mike Pelfrey, NYM (3-4, 5.56) at Randy Wolf, MIL (4-4, 3.43)
Well, the advice to start Pelfrey last week against the Pirates didn't go well at all. There is no way you can trust him against a much more potent offense like that of the Brewers -- especially on the road. Ignore the circumstantial success Pelfrey has had against the Brewers (3.15 ERA in three starts).
Thursday, June 9
Matchup to exploit: Jaime Garcia, STL (5-1, 3.28) at J.A. Happ, HOU (3-6, 4.67)
Garcia, like Scherzer, was off to a great start this season before hitting the skids of late. Garcia takes a 7.71 ERA in his past three starts into his Friday night outing. Regardless of how well he pitches, he is too good to sit in a favorable matchup at Houston. Garcia remains a burgeoning ace you should stick with through thick and thin, a la Jimenez above.
Matchup to avoid: Jair Jurrjens, ATL (7-1, 1.51) at Chris Volstad, FLA (2-4, 5.91)
Volstad looked like a potential two-start pitcher to take a advantage of in Fantasy Week 9 (May 30-June 5), but that went horribly, horribly wrong. Now, he looks like a must-sit in all formats for Fantasy Week 10 (June 6-12). He has a 6.28 ERA in his past three starts and is facing the NL's early Cy Young award candidate in Jurrjens (if anyone can wrest it from Roy Halladay, of course).
Friday, June 10
Matchup to exploit: Erik Bedard, SEA (3-4, 3.41) at Brad Penny, DET (4-4, 4.72)
Bedard's ownership has suddenly soared over 80 percent in fantasy leagues and that should continue to rise. He is pitching like his pre-injury self. He also gets the struggling Penny in a one-start week. Bedard remains a must-start with this matchup.
Matchup to avoid: Fausto Carmona, CLE (3-6, 5.31) at CC Sabathia, NYY (6-3, 2.98)
Carmona is easily the sit of the week here. Not only has he been awful in his past three starts with an 0-3 record and a 10.06 ERA, but he has been awful in his career against the potent Yankees. Carmona is 1-4 with a 6.53 ERA in 10 games against the Yankees. His ownership and starting percentages need to drop to season lows (65-28). He is currently at 71-45.
Saturday, June 11
Matchup to exploit: Colby Lewis, TEX (5-5, 3.48) at Scott Baker, MIN (2-4, 3.86)
After a bad April (5.70 ERA), Lewis has been much more like his 2010 version in May (2.43). He takes a solid stretch into a two-start week that will be capped by a start at one of the worst teams in baseball right now in the Twins. Joe Mauer (legs) might be coming back after June 12, but he won't be here for this one. Start Lewis in all leagues with complete confidence.
Matchup to avoid: John Lannan, WAS (3-5, 4.05) at Clayton Richard, SD (2-6, 4.52)
Here is a matchup of two inadvisable two-start pitchers who are struggling and facing each other. They look like viable options with late-week starts against these impotent offenses, but you are best off not getting sucked in by either of them. Take the over in Vegas, but otherwise pretend this game does not exist for fantasy pitching purposes.
Sunday, June 12
Matchup to exploit: Jordan Zimmermann, WAS (3-6, 3.61) at Tim Stauffer SD (1-4, 3.99)
Zimmermann is pitching as well as anyone right now with six consecutive quality starts. He looks like a must-start in all leagues, especially with this favorable matchup at San Diego. That is a huge pitcher's park and the Padres have struggled mightily at home this season.
Matchup to avoid: Jon Garland, LA (1-5, 4.33) at Ubaldo Jimenez, COL (1-5, 4.98)
Garland is one of those fringe pitchers who can be useful in mixed leagues when the matchups are right or getting double starts. Not this week. He draws the Phillies in his first start and then heads to Coors Field in this second one. It looks like a two-loss week will be brewing. Ignore Garland this go-around.
Eric Mack helps you plan your pitching staff every Friday at SI.com. You can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice on Twitter @EricMackFantasy. Hit him up. He honestly has nothing better to do with his free time.