Pitching Help: Returning Injured, Rookie Report, and Waiver Wire Risers

We’re 60-odd games into the 2017 season, and the pool of decent starting pitching is receding faster than the Donald’s hairline (zing). Today I’ll be exploring options for everyone’s stable of starters, including top-flight guys that are injured and their expected returns, young arms that are establishing themselves (or not), and scouring the waiver wire for guys whose seasons can no longer be labeled flukes. As always, I’ll end with a craft beer review and recommendation.


The Injury List

There are several big names, and more than a few small ones, sitting on the DL right now. Some of them will be back in a few weeks, other months. In this section I’ll identify top-flight injured guys to target on the wire (don’t hold your breath about them being available, though) or in a trade with a desperate league-mate, as well as mid-tier arms that should be available as free agents or in trades.

The Top Tier (of injured) Arms: Grab ASAP if available, if not look to trade

#1 Thor, aka Noah Syndergaard (NYM) – Lat injury, estimated return: Post-ASB (late July)

I shouldn’t have to explain who Thor is, so I won’t, but you should know that as of the most recent update from the Mets he is still not throwing a baseball. Syndergaard is not behind schedule in his rehab, as original estimates had him throwing again in mid-late June, but if we don’t receive an update soon that could indicate a slowed rehab regimen. The Mets are almost 10 games out of first place in the NL East and 5 games under .500 (though that’s still good enough for 2nd place as of now), so it’s unlikely that they’ll rush him back in the hopes of a postseason push. Still, Thor should be back before the end of July barring any setbacks, so any trade for him at this point would net you 2+ months of starts from the righty ace through the end of the season. There’s basically no chance he’s available, but now is the time to target him in a trade: he’s far away enough from a return and there’s very little news, so owners will be at peak discouragement.

Noah Syndergaard seen here working out in his rehab assignment

#2 Madison Bumgarner (SF) – Shoulder injury, est. return: Post-ASB (mid July)

MadBum was having another fine season prior to his (very, very stupid) injury sustained in a dirtbike accident, and figures to be his usual awesome self once he gets back from the DL. Like Thor, MadBum figures to be treated cautiously and will not be rushed back, though some optimistic estimates have him returning before the ASB, which is possible but not likely. MadBum will throw a simulated game sometime this week after successfully throwing off of a mound this past Sunday. After that, assuming all goes well, he’ll have a couple rehab starts to go before returning to the big club in SanFran. Again, this man should absolutely not be on waivers, so snatch him immediately if he is. News and buzz about his rehab should start circulating within the next week, so try for a trade now before owners start anticipating his return.

#3 Dallas Keuchel (HOU) – Neck injury, est. return: Late June

Keuchel is arguable having the best season on the mound in the majors, pacing the AL and the NL with an absurd 1.67 ERA and 0.87 WHIP. He won’t participate in any throwing or baseball activities until around 6/20 per the Astros, so we won’t know if he requires a more extended DL stint until then, but it’s largely seen as a precautionary move. Again, there’s not a chance in hell he’s on waivers unless you’re in a league of idiots, but injuries always lower trade value a bit so if you can steal him from a nervous owner, consider it a bargain.

#4 Lance McCullers (HOU) – Back injury, est. return: ~6/20 (when eligible for activation from 10-day DL)

The injury bug keeps buzzing around Houston’s starting staff, but luckily for them McCullers won’t be out long. After feeling some tightness throwing a bullpen session, McCullers was placed on the 10-day DL with lower back discomfort, but figures to return almost immediately. His only flaw is being on the same team as Keuchel, who has managed to overshadow McCullers’s outstanding year that’s seen him post a 2.58 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. Trade for him if you can pry him out of a nervous owner’s fingers, but don’t expect savvy managers to bite.

The Mid-Tier: Guys that could be on the wire, or very trade-able

#5 Cole Hamels (TEX) – Oblique injury, est. return: Mid July/Post-ASB

Hamels was off to another fine start before hitting the DL with an oblique injury in April, tossing 4 QS in his first 5 starts to the tune of a 3.03 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. Hamels is rehabbing slowly but surely, and recently threw a successful simulated game, keeping him on track to return after the All-Star Game. Hamels figures to finish the year as a top-40 guy upon his return, so he’s a great stash if you have the space.


#6 Danny Duffy (KC) – Oblique injury, est. return: Mid July/Post-ASB

Duffy was a fantasy darling last year and looked to be building on his solid 2016 campaign with a 3.54 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, and 54 K’s in 68.2 IP before falling to the ever-present injury bug. Duffy has successfully thrown his first bullpen session this week, and is scheduled to complete another one on Friday. If his rehab goes as planned, he should make his first start after the All-Star Game. Duffy is a very solid mid-to-back-end fantasy starter, and well worth a stash or a trade.

Don’t you lie to me and say that hearing Duffy’s name doesn’t make you think about this….right? Just me?

#7 Eduardo Rodriguez (BOS) – Knee injury, est. return: Late July

E-Rod is breaking my heart. He was having a wonderful surprise season for the Red Sox (well, that part I’m not so psyched on) and pitching to the tune of a 3.54 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and a fabulous 9.6 K/9 ratio that had fantasy owners salivating. While E-Rod is likely the latest return on this list, he’s certainly worth keeping an eye on and stashing when he’s closer to a return. There hasn’t been much information outside of making him wait 3-4 weeks until he can throw from a mound, so it’s very possible his return is moved up or back, so be sure to watch so you don’t miss out on him.

#8 King Felix (SEA) – Shoulder injury, est. return: Late June/next week

The King has returned, and he’s pitched very well in his rehab starts, tossing 5 innings of one run, one hit ball, and starting the game with 4 consecutive 1-2-3 innings. He’s badly needed in Seattle, and should be back immediately after his final start in the minors, which should take place this weekend. Look for him to rejoin the Mariner’s rotation late next week, and snap him up if he’s on the wire.

#9 Kyle Hendricks (CHC) – Hand injury, est. return: Late June/next week

Hendricks has been a bit disappointing this year after a breakout 2016 campaign in which he established himself as a top-notch starter. However, his middling 4.09 ERA isn’t much to write home about, and he’s been victimized by the longball this year. There’s hope for him though, as his peripherals are close to career norms, and he’s still sporting a respectable 1.20 WHIP and almost 8K’s per 9 IP. His mediocre start to the season plus his injury makes him a prime trade candidate, and he figures to be back next week. Snag him now if you can.

The “Meh” Tier: Guys you could take a flier on, but don’t bother trading for

#10 Tyson Ross (TEX) – Shoulder injury, will pitch Friday, 6/16 vs. SEA

I know, I know. Ross shouldn’t be in this tier, right? The guy owns a career 3.64 ERA and has thrown more than 9 K/9 the last two seasons. That being said, he hasn’t pitched at all this year, and boy oh boy is he gonna be rusty. Ross was roughed up worse than that bird that pissed off Randy Johnson that one time in his AAA rehab outings, compiling an atrocious 7.71 ERA and 11:11 K:BB over 18.2 innings. Ouch. I know it’s rehab, but it’s also AAA. The Rangers feel confident enough to start him on Friday, however, so maybe you should too. The plus side is he’s a potential top-40 pitcher with high SO potential that you can pick up for nothing, the down side is he’s on the wrong side of 30, hasn’t had a pro start all season, got destroyed in AAA, and was far below his career K/9 during those starts. He’s worth grabbing, but I’d wait and see how his first start this week goes before putting him out there.

#11 Carlos Rodon (CWS) – Bicep injury, est. return: Late June

Much like Tyson Ross, Rodon has been hit hard in his AAA rehab starts, and isn’t inspiring much confidence among fantasy owners. Per Rotowire, his major issue seems to be finding the strike zone, as he threw just half of his 80+ pitches for strikes in his most recent outing. Still, the White Sox plan to give him two more starts in the minors before promoting him back to the big league club, so expect to see him in a White Sox uniform before the end of June. When healthy, Rodon is a solid back-end fantasy starter, and could post a sub-4 ERA with a 9+ K/9 potential.

#12 Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) – Shoulder injury, est. return: Late June/End of next week

Iwakuma is set to throw 45 pitches in his first rehab start this afternoon, and is scheduled for one more start in AAA after that before rejoining Seattle. Iwakuma was shaky before his injury, failing to reach the 7th inning in all 6 of his starts while posting a 4.35 ERA and a career low 4.6 K/9 to boot. His value has never been in strikeouts though, and if you need a solid starter in a QS league he’s worth picking up assuming his rehab starts go well.

Rookie Report

There are a lot of rookie pitchers that have made their debuts this year, some stunning, some not-so-much. I don’t have the space to cover them all, but I’ll be reviewing 6 players that are discussion-worthy, 4 of whom are in the under-30% ownership group.

#1 Antonio Senzatela (COL) –  8-2(W/L), 7 QS, 3.84 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 54 K’s in 77.1 IP

“BUT MUH COORS FIELD!!” You shout. “BERRIOS!” You exclaim.

Shut up, says I. Senzatela, like all Rockies pitchers, has fought the Coors Field bias since his debut. The bias is statistically correct and hitters do hit better in Coors. Altitude, bruh. That being said, Senzatela has pitched a damn impressive rookie campaign, keeping a sub-4 ERA and a shocking 3.18 ERA in Coors Field to a 4.78 ERA in away games. And before you ask, he’s pitched 7 home games and 6 away, almost even. This kid has learned how to pitch at Coors, and he’s got some guts on him, holding his own against high-powered offenses like Chicago, Washington and Cleveland. He has yet to allow more than 4 ER in a game. He’s not a strikeout pitcher, but his ratios are great, especially for a rookie in Colorado. Give the kid his props!

#2 Honey Nut Berrios, aka Jose Berrios (MIN) – 5-1, 4 QS, 2.84 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 39 K in 39 IP

My man. Honey Nut Berrios, as I affectionately call him. By far my favorite waiver wire add (after Aaron Judge) this year, Berrios has officially corrected the issues that caused him to shit the bed last season. In his official rookie campaign, Jose has been simply outstanding: racking up more than 9 K/9 while posting a sub-3 ERA and a sterling 1.00 WHIP. He still runs into some issues with control that cause deep counts and pushes him out of games early, but his upside is monstrous, as demonstrated by his demolition of the potent Rockies lineup in a 7.2 inning, 11-K, 2 hit performance in May. Just look at that nasty curveball and tell me you’re not in love.

This is what love looks like. Courtesy of MLB.com

#3 Jordan Montgomery (NYY) – 4-4, 6 QS, 3.55 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 61 K in 63 IP

Monty has been a very pleasant surprise after failing to win the Spring Training battle for Yankees 5th rotation spot. Since being awarded said spot in mid-April, Montgomery has been everything the Yankees could have hoped for and then some, posting an 8.7 K/9 ratio to go along with a 3.5 ERA and 6 QS. He’s no longer a streamer, he’s a solid back-end starter that you should grab ASAP.

#4 Jacob Faria (TB) – 2-0, 2 QS, 1.42 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 13 K in 12.2 IP

Choo choo! All aboard the Hype Train!!! Yes, it’s a small sample size, but Faria has been damn impressive since being called upon to start in the wake of Andreise’s injury. I watched Faria’s start last night (and yes, disclaimer, I did pick him up) and he looked great. He reminds me a lot of Berrios: not necessarily because they throw the same pitches (though Faria does have great breaking stuff, especially for a 23 year old), but because they both have the Chris-Sale-like appearance of skinny young guys with long arms who seem as if throwing the ball is the most natural thing in the world to them. Not saying either will be Sale, or even that Faria will be as good as Honey Nut, but he’s 100% worth an add in any league.

#5 Julio Urias (LAD)- 0-2, 1 QS, 5.40 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 11 K in 23.1 IP

Poor Julio. After three great starts against the Giants, the Giants again, and the Pirates, Julio looked to be the shiniest new toy in the box. That illusion ended quickly after back to back 6 ER performances of under 5 IP against Colorado and Miami, respectively. Urias has since been demoted to AAA to work on his mechanics and control. He walked more batters than he K’d in his MLB stint (14 BB to 11 K) and desperately needs to fix those ratios before getting the call back up. Urias has the talent, though, so look for him to have a Berrios-like resurgence when the Dodgers brass announces his return.

#6 Tyler Glasnow (PIT) 2-6, 3 QS, 7.45 ERA, 1.91 WHIP, 50 K in 54 IP

Ouch. Just ouch. Glasnow has sucked big time this season and was recently demoted to AAA to try and stop sucking so much. Glasnow has struggled mightily with control, walking 29 batters in his 54 IP while allowing a whopping 75!! hits to boot. Glasnow can officially be labeled a bust and you can drop him from your radar until he proves otherwise in the minors. His one redeeming quality is his K rate, which is a cool 8.3/9, so there is hope that he can turn things around. Eventually. Just not on my roster.

Waiver Wire Risers

This list is getting longer than I thought so thanks for sticking with me, but here are some quick notes on 5 waiver wire players who will soon be permanent fixtures on many a fantasy roster, so if they’re still on the wire you’d best grab ’em now.

Ariel Miranda (SEA) – 57.3% owned

Miranda has been a season-saver for Seattle, posting a 3.67 ERA on the season. He’s only getting hotter as he’s put up a 2.23 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and nearly a K per inning over the past 30 days, including a one-run complete game against Tampa Bay. He’s for real, and should be owned.

Jeff Hoffman (COL) – 49.7% owned

Hoffman has not disappointed since his return from the DL promotion from the minors, and has spun three consecutive quality starts and allowed just 3 ER over his past three games. He’s healthy, he’s back, and he should be owned. Grab him now.

Jaime Garcia (ATL) 29.6% owned

wrote about Ser Jaime last week and suggested picking him up, and now I think he’s for real. In his last five starts, he’s gone 6.2, 7, 7, 7.2, and 8 innings while allowing a total of 6 ER (QS in all 5 games). Wow. His sharp 3.16 ERA and 1.21 WHIP on the season are well-deserved, and he’s proved he’s better than a streaming option.

Junior Guerra (MIL) 23.4% owned

Since Guerra returned from the DL at the end of last month, he’s pitched 22.2 innings to the tune of a 1.99 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. While the walks are a concern (13 BB in that span), he’s shown himself to be reliable. Start with confidence.

Joe Biagini (TOR) 10% owned

The Genie! He had a bit of a rough stretch after being promoted to the rotation, but he’s been outstanding in his past three games despite getting tagged for the loss in all three. He’s faced Seattle, the Yankees, and Texas in his past three starts, going 20 total innings and allowing just 6 ER while striking out 18 batters against three great offenses. He’s earned your trust, and start him when you can.


The Beer

Today I’m reviewing one of my favorite IPAs (and a great summer beer, too) that hails from  Deschutes Brewing in Oregon, as many readers have requested West Coast brew reviews. So here it goes!

deschutes fresh sq.jpg

Alright, so we can see that it pours a lovely dark amber, almost reddish color in the glass. Nice head of foam with great lacing. It clocks in at a decent 6.4%, standard for an IPA. I get notes of citrus, pine, and caramel on the nose coming out of the glass, maybe even a little mint.

The taste follows the nose with an even more impressive blend of flavors. It’s incredibly smooth, with low-to-moderate carbonation and an almost creamy, medium body. It’s reaaaaally juicy, the citrus and fruit flavors come out nicely here without being overwhelming, with a nice blend of caramel, maltiness, and some of that mint I smelled. All in all it’s outstanding: imminently drinkable, smooth, just the right amount of alcohol, and a wonderful blend of citrus and fruit that stays true to the IPA style without being repetitive or boring.




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