It’s hard enough following one’s own fantasy team without having to keep track of an entire sport’s daily transactions. To assist you, here’s a column dedicated to recapping the most notable trades, signings, promotions, demotions and role changes across the majors over the past week as they relate to fantasy. We’ll do this on a weekly basis. If you feel I’ve missed anything important, please don’t hesitate to keep the conversation going in the comments below.
• Now that he’s been diagnosed with a torn labrum, Michael Pineda’s 2012 odyssey has shifted gears from a supreme disappointment to a macabre nightmare. Forget about seeing this guy in 2012; it remains to be seen whether he’ll have any fantasy value in 2013, or whether he’ll be able to recover well enough to get major league hitters out ever again.
On the same day the team learned the full extent of Pineda’s devastating setback, Phil Hughes was torched by Texas and couldn’t get out of the third inning, and over the weekend, the team announced that Freddy Garcia was out of the team’s rotation.
So where does that leave the Bombers’ starting pitching? Andy Pettitte is pitching in Double-A, but he’s not quite ready to jump to the MLB level, which means David Phelps will most likely grab Garcia’s spot. Phelps, 25, has compiled a 3.57 ERA and 1.075 WHIP in six relief appearances thus far this season, though he put together a 38-15 record, 2.61 ERA and 1.184 WHIP over his minor league career.
Owners in deeper AL-only leagues might consider taking a flier on Phelps already, and if he pitches well enough, it might be Hughes, not the newbie, who gets bumped back to the pen by the time Pettitte returns to New York.
• It turns out Ryan Zimmerman’s shoulder injury was serious enough to merit a stint on the disabled list, zapping his fantasy value in week five. Chad Tracy probably will grab some of his playing time at third base, though he doesn’t present much fantasy value for the time being.
• Shin-Soo Choo couldn’t make it through the month of April without getting his first injury of the season, a barking hamstring that ruined his productivity in week four. A reportedly successful test Sunday means he’s on track to play on Tuesday, though the Indians might be cautious with their right fielder over the next week, so plan accordingly.
• A left ankle sprain sidelined Carlos Lee over the weekend, so keep tabs on his recovery over the next couple of days to see how viable he’ll be this week.
• Nick Swisher left Sunday’s game with a tight left hamstring and will undergo a MRI.
• Look out, world, Bryce Harper has arrived. I don’t have anything to add to the mountains of words already written about his potential, but I’m interested to see how long he’ll stay up with the big club. Zimmerman is eligible to come off the disabled list on May 6, which could prompt the phenom’s return to Syracuse, though manager Davey Johnson has been adamant about his desire for Harper to stay at the MLB level.
Harper’s case isn’t hurt by the continued absence of Michael Morse, and Johnson has pledged to start Harper every day so long as he’s in Washington, so he certainly poses significant fantasy value in the immediate term.
• Not to be outdone, the Angels called up Mike Trout and cut Bobby Abreu, guaranteeing the 20-year-old a much-needed slot in Anaheim’s outfield. It’s well known that Trout struggled during his MLB tenure last year, but I suspect he’ll be a much different player this time around, especially considering he slammed his way to a .403/.467/.623 line in 93 Triple-A plate appearances this year. So far, he’s been hitting at the top of the Angels’ batting order, which can only help his fantasy value, though he should be considered an impact player no matter where he hits.
• OK, so Patrick Corbin isn’t on the level of Harper or Trout, but he’s still a highly-touted prospect who has a chance to stick in the Diamondbacks’ rotation now that Josh Collmenter has been banished to the bullpen. Corbin, 22, posted a 2-0 record, 1.67 ERA and 1.111 WHIP over four starts in Double-A this season, and he should be considered a definite sleeper in mixed leagues going forward. Of course, Arizona is loaded with young pitching talent, particularly in the forms of Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs, so owners should make sure Corbin cements his role at the big league level going forward.
• Speaking of (former) Arizona pitching talent, Jarrod Parker pitched well in his MLB debut for Oakland last week, allowing one earned run over 6.1 innings against the White Sox. He should stick around in the rotation for the time being, so he carries some definite fantasy appeal in what should be his first full season.
• Jordan Walden blew 10 saves last year, but it only took one this year for Mike Scioscia to demote him to setup duty. Scott Downs will take his place in the ninth inning, instantly boosting his fantasy value, though one imagines Walden could return to the role later this year if Downs struggles.
• An abdominal strain has landed Brad Lidge on the disabled list, which more or less coronates Henry Rodriguez as the team’s closer. Even with a blown save on Saturday night, Rodriguez should hold onto the job for the foreseeable future, and on a competitive Nationals team, he could rack up some saves and strikeouts to help owners.
• Not to be presumptuous, but Grant Balfour’s awful blown save on Sunday has to challenge his hold on Oakland’s closer role. Brian Fuentes waits in the wings, though he hasn’t been all that great this year, either, but it’s a situation worth watching as the season unfolds.
• Who knew Delmon Young had temper issues? The Tigers’ outfielder found himself in trouble again Friday when he was arrested for allegedly assaulting a man and dropping some anti-Semitic slurs, causing Detroit to place him on the restricted list. There’s a chance he’ll play as soon as Tuesday, but he’s probably worth sitting in week five, especially since he’s only hitting .242 with one home run thus far in 2012.