A’s Lose Jharel Cotton, Sign Trevor Cahill: Fantasy impact

MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 22: Jharel Cotton
MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 22: Jharel Cotton /

A’s pitcher Jharel Cotton will miss the 2018 season as he undergoes Tommy John surgery. What is the fantasy impact of the injury?

The Oakland A’s look like a sleeper in the AL West but with this most recent news, things become a bit more difficult. They will be without 26-year-old starter Jharel Cotton for the season as he undergoes Tommy John surgery and spends time recovering.

Cotton suffered a sprain to his ulnar collateral ligament and strained his flexor muscle on Thursday. A’s beat writer Susan Slusser tweeted the news. While the first thought is obviously TJ surgery, there have been pitchers undergoing different treatments to shorten their absence time but that won’t be the case for Cotton.

Jane Lee of MLB.com reported that Cotton will, in fact, undergo TJ surgery as of Saturday afternoon. Cotton was expected to be the A’s No. 3 pitcher this season, behind Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea. Oakland has Paul Blackburn, Andrew Triggs, Daniel Mengden and Daniel Gossett and brand new member of the organization battling for the remaining three spots.

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This isn’t a rotation I want to invest a lot in this season, especially with the opposing offenses they have to face.

Cotton was barely getting drafted in fantasy leagues. He has a 477.0 ADP according to FantasyPros. Cotton is the 110th-ranked starting pitcher, an SP10 in 12-team leagues. He is going undrafted in standard leagues.

Cotton finished with a 5.58 ERA, 1.442 WHIP, 7.3 K9 and 3.7 BB9 in 24 starts. Cotton gave up 28 home runs in 129.0 innings, or 2.0 HR9. That doesn’t bode well for fantasy baseball. He showed some bright spots with his swings-and-misses and a 93 MPH fastball but the home runs were coming at a high rate.

Cotton would have been in a lot of trouble again this year if he didn’t make any improvements to his pitch location. It does hinder any progression the 26-year-old would have made this year. Hopefully, he recovers nicely and pitches well in 2019.

Lee recently tweeted that the A’s and Trevor Cahill agreed to a major league deal, pending a physical. Cahill started 17 games between the Padres and Royals last season, finishing with a 4.93 ERA and 1.619 WHIP. He posted a 9.3 K9 and 4.8 BB9 in just 84.0 innings.

Cahill hasn’t pitched a full season as a starter since 2013. He hasn’t surpassed 100 innings since 2014. Unlike Cotton, though, he didn’t give up as many home runs last season, 1.7 HR9 and career 0.9 HR9.

The Oakland Coliseum ranked 11th in home runs, sixth in runs and 12th in hits according to ESPN Park Factors. Some of the AL West hitters may have inflated those numbers. The A’s also hit 24 more home runs at home than on the road. Regardless, the A’s pitchers will be facing an uphill battle this season.

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Cotton has some talent to be an effective starting pitcher in the league. The number of home runs allowed hurt his value. If he can keep the ball on the ground more than 37 percent of the time, he’ll be a bounce-back candidate next season.