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Fantasy Baseball Advice: Impact Players Coming Back from Injuries, and Other Musings

With June call-ups chomping at the bit, everyone is looking for the next Shelby Miller or Matt Harvey at a bargain price. And a couple of solid pitching prospects are already on their way to The Show. But before we get to the might-be-studs, let’s peak at a few proven pitchers who will be coming back from the DL in the near future.

·         Colby Lewis – The former Ranger front-liner recently suffered a set-back in his attempt to recover from Tommy John surgery. Preliminary reports say he’ll be shut down for at least two weeks. He’s certainly a risky bet, but so was Mine That Bird in the ’09 Kentucky Derby.  Don’t let him fall off your radar.

·         Brandon Beachy – He completed his second rehab start on Tuesday and is likely just a few more minor league games away from joining the Braves rotation. He’ll be a nice addition to your roster, too. Stash and wait.

·         Josh Johnson – The 29-year-old two-time All Star is slated to toe the rubber for the Blue Jays next Tuesday against the Giants. I’m not as high on Johnson as some, but Toronto really needs some good luck….however, he’s going to get some bad draws (Giants, Rangers, Tigers, and the Orioles twice) prior to the All Star break. I’m flipping a coin here and it keeps landing on its edge.

·         Chris Carpenter – He’s throwing the ball and stretching his arm muscles as we speak. Can the 38-year-old return to dominance…or, at least to fantasy relevance? I think not, but I’m a Reds fan with a Cardinal chip on my shoulder. Just remember he’s out there.

·         David Price – Following his 51-win/611 K dominance from 2010-12, including a Cy Young last season, this home-grown Ray flopped in the sand to begin the ’13 season. Across the board, his stats were very un-Price-like. He hit the shelf in mid-May with a left tricep strain. He’s likely out until mid-June at the earliest. Call me crazy, but if I owned him I’d be shopping him for some young studs in return.

Michael Wacha makes his debut from the bump tonight for the Cardinals. Is the 2012 top draft pick the next big thing? Probably not, but scouts love his tools. If Wacha sticks in the rotation, his starts up to the All Star break are extremely favorable. Aside from a tough June 9 start in Cincinnati (he might even be skipped in this turn for protection), he gets the Royals and Astros once and the Cubs and Marlins twice. As a result of facing less-than-fearsome offenses, his numbers at the midway point may look awesome….which may make him excellent trade bait amongst your less-studious peers.

Zack Wheeler will likely make his anticipated debut for the lowly Mets sometime in June, but will be limited to about 100 innings with the big club. I’m not a fan of the innings cap (I still believe Washington’s insistence on shutting Stephen Strasburg down last year cost them a trip to the World Series and equate this innings cap nonsense to fear killing prosperity), but with the Mets, who can blame them? Along with Matt Harvey, Wheeler could make up the second-half of an awesome one-two punch for New York in the very near future. He’ll likely help you down the stretch, with little run support (few wins), but in keeper leagues, if you don’t have him already, stock up.

Tyler Lyons – As much as I hate it, the Cardinals seem to own a stud-pitcher mega mall. One goes down, another one who is just as good fills his spot. With Jaime Garcia on the shelf for the season, the lineup behind Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller is presently Lyons and Wacha (and don’t forget about Carpenter). Lyons has looked very sharp against the Royals and Padres (14 IP/1.29 ERA/0.57 WHIP/ 9 K) but we’ll have a better idea of his effectiveness following his next two starts – Sunday at home against the Giants and Friday at Cincinnati. Just like Wacha, after next week he’s going to benefit from pitching against some weaker offenses leading up to the break.  

·         Matt Kemp can’t get any love these days, but my soft heart roots for him simply for this. I know he’s struggling at the dish, but he’s not having any trouble dishing out love for others who are struggling. I own him and I’ll continue to own him just because I believe good things happen to good people. Try out my theory on this and let’s compare notes at the end of the season.

·         Jarrod Parker drove all of his owners nuts early in the season. I held him due, mostly I think, to stubbornness. Well, he’s paying us back for our patience. In his last four games, Parker has turned in four straight quality starts. He still leaves a little to be desired in the WHIP categories, but my stubbornness is going to remain for a few more starts.

·         Kendrys Morales, as RotoBaller’s Raphael Robe pointed out recently on The Fantasy Alarm Show with Jeff Mann, should be owned in way more than 51% of Yahoo! leagues. The not-yet-30-year-old is hitting .300 with 6 HR and 28 RBI and is only four unfortunately unhealthy seasons removed from a .306/34 HR/108 RBI campaign. Get rid of your dead weight and add this guy before somebody else does.

The past week threw me plenty of curves and off-speed stuff. I had a week-long training in Cincinnati with Hell’s Snore Captain as a roommate, a baccalaureate and graduation on consecutive nights for my oldest daughter and an interview for a prominent position at my workplace dominate my cognitive abilities. Along the way, I also had an article I am most proud of published by Yahoo! called The Greatest At-Bat in Baseball History. Click, read, and throw me some feedback….but I must warn you, if you are a Yankees fan this story may induce regurgitation.