Another crushing blow for fantasy owners was dealt on Saturday when Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright tore his Achilles tendon during an at-bat during the Brewers. This will likely cause the “to DH or not to DH” argument again. This is strong evidence for it in the National League. Wainwright is one of the ten best pitchers in the National League, if not all of baseball. He was lost for the rest of the year during a meaningless at bat.
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Us fantasy owners care little about that argument. We are still trying to figure out a suitable replacement for a guy that was 2-1 with a 1.44 ERA and 1.04 WHIP with 18 strikeouts in 25 innings. If there is a bit of a silver lining here, it is that we are still early enough in the season that we can still find some gems on waivers. Let’s get searching!
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Drew Smyly, Rays: He was solid in his first start of the season against a very good Toronto offense. He was on a pitch count, and likely will be in his next couple of starts as well, but you should still get five months of full usage out of him. His ERA won’t be a low as Wainwright and his win total won’t be as high, but I could see him being 100% owned by the end of May. He could be that good.
Nick Martinez, Rangers: Martinez is another youngster flying under the radar. He has been impressive in his first four starts, posting a 2-0 record with a microscopic 0.35 ERA. He won’t get you a lot of strikeouts, and his ERA is in line for an adjustment at some point, but he could end up having a really nice season.
Aaron Harang, Phillies: Yes, he is still around. Perhaps more surpisingly, Harang is pitching well. He has a 2-1 record with a 1.37 ERA. Even more shocking than that is the fact that he has 21 strikeouts in 25 innings pitched. His ERA will get a bump sometime this year, but he can help you in the short term if nothing else.
Tim Lincecum, Giants: His strong start is a welcome sight for Giants fans, especially with Madison Bumgarner struggling. Fantasy owners are staying away for the most part. Why? My guess is that most of us were burned by him at least once over the last two years. He likely will never be the pitcher that he once was, but that doesn’t mean that he is waiver fodder either. He has a 2.00 ERA with a solid 1.22 WHIP and 14 strikeouts in 18 innings. There is no reason not to take a chance on him while he is pitching well.
Brandon Morrow, Padres: Getting out of the AL East could be just what the doctor ordered for Morrow. We all know he has talent, but he has just never been able to put it all together. He is off to a strong start in his new home, posting a 2.67 ERA, and impressive 1.04 WHIP, and 19 strikeouts in 27 innings. Calling Petco Park home should help keep his numbers down, and the San Diego offense is better than is has been since Adrian Gonzalez left. There is reason to believe that Morrow can keep this up.
Jesse Chavez, Athletics: He lost his spot in the rotation last year, but it had nothing to do with his performance. The team went and added Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. Both of them are gone now, and Kendall Graveman has been demoted, so Chavez is back in the rotation after a brilliant outing against the Angels. He won’t wow you with his numbers, but his ERA will stay in the mid 3’s, and he will provide you with some strikeouts.
Wei-Yin Chen, Orioles: He has posted a 2.78 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 16 strikeouts in 22.2 innings. Those are good numbers that become a little more impressive when you see that those numbers came against the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox twice. Chen has been solid but unspectacular in all three of his years in the majors, but he has lowered his ERA every year. If that trend continues, there is no reason to believe that it can’t stay in the mid 3’s with a solid number of strikeouts.
Yes, none of these guys are Wainwright, but unless you want to trade for an ace, they will have to do!
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