The Return of the Aces

Jun 13, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jose Fernandez (left) greets catcher Jeff Mathis (right) after defeating the Colorado Rockies 4-1 at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports.

It today’s age of baseball, it seems like every day we hear that more and more pitchers are battling all sorts of injuries that often put their seasons in jeopardy. This past week though, we had five marquee starting pitchers return from injuries that caused them to miss last season. Each one of these guys has shown the potential to carry your staffs, therefore it is important to take notice. I am going to list them in the order I believe fantasy owners should value them at, as they scour the waiver wire searching for SP support.

Jose FernandezIt was truly a bummer last season for all baseball fans, to hear that Fernandez was going to have to have Tommy John surgery and ultimately cost him the 2014 season plus a big chunk of 2015. He certainly has a generational type arm and repertoire that challenges anyone in the league for the best pure stuff in the game.

I know he can come off as  cocky and may rub people the wrong way, but his success does not lie. The guy is dominant nearly every time he gets on the bump, and he has the stuff to shut anyone down. I realize that he will be owned in most leagues and many owners probably draft and stashed him, but just recheck your waiver wire to make sure you do not let him slip through the cracks.

Patrick CorbinFor some reason, he tends to be overlooked in the discussions of the best young pitchers in baseball. In 2013 he had one of the best breakout seasons as he tallied 14 wins, a 3.41 ERA and 178 K’s. It seemed as though he was poised for a repeat in 2014 before he went down.

Corbin did not have overpowering stuff before the injury, therefore I am not worried about him losing velocity or anything like that. He is a crafty lefty that has solid secondary stuff combined with a great pitching approach, which propelled him to his 2013 career season.

I would advise fantasy owners to snag him now as he is one of the more under the radar moves that you can make before he really gets going and is one everyone’s radar. He does not have the dominant stuff nor favorable home ballpark as Fernandez does, but on a weekly basis, Corbin will provide nearly as much value as he does not hurt you in any pitching category.

Matt Moore– Moore is the only guy on this list that could challenge Fernandez in terms of strikeout potential as he has certainly shown, a career 8.8 SO/9, that has the ability to put people away. For some it may seem odd for Moore to be behind anyone other than Fernandez on this list, but for me Moore does come with some red flags that precedes just his TJ surgery.

I will never argue that Moore’s lacks the stuff necessary to be dominant, I know he has easy gas and has decent breaking stuff that plays well off the fastball. My only concern with him, has always been his command. As of now he has a career, 4.4 BB/9, which can obviously lead to constant trouble. Combine that with command being the last thing pitchers regain after surgery, and you can see my worries.

I still would recommend picking Moore up, just keep in mind that you may want to stash him on your bench for a few more starts, just to make sure his command is at least semi-there. He has too much potential to allow him to remain on your waiver wire, the K’s should always be there and he does have the track record of showing that he can carry your rotation.

Ivan NovaI know Nova made his return in late June, but he still deserves a place on this list as a SP option returning from TJ surgery. Unlike most of these guys though, Nova probably does not have the potential to become the ace of you staff, but that does not mean he cannot help.

Over his first three starts in 2015, he has a tidy 2.65 ERA and 9 K’s. The K’s are low because he has had two starts where he has only struck out 1 guy, Nova has better stuff than that and as the season progresses his weekly K total will see an uptick.

Nova’s 2013 was spectacular and I truly feel as though he can get back to that kind of success. Like Corbin he does not rely on over overpowering people, he has a devastating curveball that serves as his out pitch and now incorporates more changeups since his return. Another promising sign is that over his first few starts he has sat in the low 90’s like he did before he got hurt, and even has hit as high as 95 on the gun.

Take a chance on him and slide him into the back-end of your rotation and allow him to anchor your staff, with the hope that he can possibly get back to his 2013 status.

Matt CainCain clearly has the most illustrious career on the list and his track record does play a part in why he still is rosterable after his return. As he has approached his 30’s, Cain has really slowed down, mostly due to nagging injuries in his elbow. After his surgery to hopefully remove the problem, Cain should now be back on fantasy owner’s radar.

Cain will always have the advantage of pitching in a pitcher’s haven and he has shown that while he may not be the consistent dominant force he once was, he still has value. I would recommend owners to take a chance on Cain, as he should be able to muster up SP4 or 5 stats. I would also advise you to possibly sit him for a few weeks, if you can, as well just to allow him to hopefully get into more of a groove.