It's been a tough spring for starting pitchers. In this year's Spring Training games, we've already seen some of the top pitchers in the game go down with elbow injuries. Already Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, Jarrod Parker, and Patrick Corbin have had their seasons ended as they await Tommy John surgery. This however does open up rotation spots for some new arms, and of course begs the question every fantasy owner should be asking themselves: is this new guy someone I should want on my team?
Pitching Injuries & 2014 Fantasy Implications
The Atlanta Braves
Having lost both Medlen and Beachy for the season, the Braves went out and signed Ervin Santana off free agency and filled their second spot with an internal option in Alex Wood. I'm not terribly enthused about Santana on the Braves since he's just too boom or bust for my taste. In the last 5 seasons, take a look at what he's given you:
2009: 5.03 ERA
2010: 3.92 ERA
2011: 3.38 ERA
2012: 5.16 ERA
2013: 3.24 ERA
He's run the gamut from ace, to unrosterable, to back again - and honestly I'm not sure which Ervin is going to show up to play in 2014. Much of his struggles stem from his inability to keep the ball in the yard, so his new home park should boost his value in this respect. Considering the depth of pitching this year however, I don't see him as much more than a spot starter in standard 10 team leagues.
Alex Wood on the other hand is a much more interesting name for me. He's got great strikeout stuff with a K/9 right around 9.0 throughout his minor league career, and was able to sustain a figure of 8.92 in his brief stint in the majors last season. He exhibited good command of his stuff in the minors, and is especially effective with his fastball and changeup which are both above average offerings. As a guy who could give you 160-170 innings with a 3.35-3.40 ERA and 160-170 strikeouts, I think he's a must own player in all formats this season. I never like seeing a player like Medlen or Beachy go down, but I'm very excited to see what Alex Wood can do with a full season.
Note: For those of you who play in leagues which differentiate between SP and RP eligibility, Wood will be able to play at both spots this season.
The Oakland A's
I don't think there's too much to say here. The biggest fantasy impact Parker's departure will make for fantasy owners is bumping up Sonny Gray into the Opening Day spot. In other words, there isn't much of one. Jesse Chavez and Tommy Milone will step in to fill the spots vacated by Parker, and the also injured AJ Griffin, but neither of these pitchers are much more than a spot starter in standard leagues. As a baseball fan, I must say it's nice to see a journeyman like Chavez finally get a shot at a starting job for a winning team, but I won't be owning him on any of my teams this season.
The Arizona Diamondbacks
Losing Patrick Corbin was a big blow to this aspiring playoff team. Initially I was hoping they would fill the hole with one of the top pitching prospects in the minors: Archie Bradley. It seems however that Arizona will be content to give the job to Randall Delgado, a competent pitcher, but not one with anything approaching the ceiling of Bradley. Delgado is another one of those spot starters who'd I'd freely add or drop depending on the matchup, but if he struggles I highly recommend keeping your eyes turned towards Archie Bradley. He has the kind of arm capable of giving owners something similar to what they enjoyed from Shelby Miller last season, if not more. Once he has a job, I think he's a must add in every league.