With fantasy trade deadlines on the horizon and teams looking to shore up their teams for the last six weeks of baseball, the injury news yesterday was a big blow to some. It was announced that the consensus preseason number 2, Yu Darvish, would be placed back on the disabled list with elbow pain and swelling. Furthermore, the Reds placed Homer Bailey on the disabled list (for the first time in his career) with an elbow issue as well. Not a good day for elbows. While there is no replacing a top pitcher, there are options available. I will list eight pitchers who may be available to fill in for a lost Darvish or Bailey. For the purposes of this article I have used each player’s last 30 days as a guide on who to target. One I did not list is Michael Pineda who just returned to the Yankees and is a wild card. If you can afford the risk, he may be a high upside play but with his past, may not stay on the field for long.
The Crazy Eight:
1. Brandon McCarthy (Yankees): 4 W, 30 IP, 33:5 K:BB, 2.40 ERA, 1.23 WHIP
Ownership %: 44.8 ESPN, 72 CBS, 39 Yahoo
When a pitcher joins the Yankees it is unusual for his peripheral stats to improve but after some research it appears that the Diamondbacks did not want McCarthy to throw his cutter. Since joining the Bombers he has found his feel for the pitch and seen his K/9 jump to 9.9 over the last month. He’s now a relevant mixed league fantasy option going forward.
2. Chase Anderson (Diamondbacks): 1 W, 25 IP, 22:7 K:BB, 1.80 ERA, 0.96 WHIP
Ownership %: 18.4 ESPN, 37 CBS, 19 Yahoo
Ironically, Anderson was a benefactor of the McCarthy move to the New York, giving him a permanent rotation spot.
He keeps hitters guessing with his off-speed pitches. His FIP of 3.77 portends some regression to the mean but he can net wins in spot starts over the coming weeks.
3. Jake Odorizzi (Rays): 3 W, 21.2 IP, 23:6 K:BB, 3.32 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
Ownership %: 48.4 ESPN, 83 CBS, 44 Yahoo
After trading David Price, it appeared that the Rays were just packing it in but young pitchers like Odorizzi are why they could afford to take the chance. While he does struggle on the road his strikeout upside represents a great option for owners who lost Yu Darvish. Odorizzi’s FIP and xFIP are both under 3.90, so his surge is not a fluke.
4. Phil Hughes (Twins): 2 W, 29 IP, 26:4 K:BB, 3.72 ERA, 1.28 WHIP
Ownership %: 32.9 ESPN, 86 CBS, 48 Yahoo
If Hughes could only figure out how to pitch in his spacious new home park he would really be a breakout pitcher. Hughes has a 5.17 ERA at home and a 2.78 on the road, which if he were still a Yankee would make sense. Our own Timothy King looked into Hughes’ odd 2014 so far here, check it out.
5. Collin McHugh (Astros): 1 W, 25.2 IP, 25:2 K:BB, 2.45 ERA, 0.90 WHIP
Ownership %: 33.7 ESPN, 66 CBS, 35 Yahoo
If McHugh were on a better team or received more run support, fantasy gamers would notice him a lot more. His curveball has been one of the best in baseball this year and he may be a find for the Astros. It appears his grip is much better in Houston than in Colorado and what is better is that his FIP (2.93) and xFIP (2.44) suggest that this is sustainable. McHugh’s 8.8 K/9 is very good and makes him a strikeout option moving ahead.
6. Kyle Hendricks (Cubs): 4 W, 35.2 IP, 19:6 K:BB, 1.01 ERA, 0.95 WHIP
Ownership %: 22.8 ESPN, 62 CBS, 20 Yahoo
Hendricks ties Brandon McCarthy for the most wins over the last 30 days and his low ERA and WHIP have helped his case. He is not overpowering by any means as his 4.8 K/9 suggests but his 53.3 GB% has gotten him out of jams with timely double play balls. His FIP (3.01) and xFIP (3.63) suggest he will give up more runs going forward but he has pitched in Colorado already and enjoys the confines of Wrigley Field.
7. James Paxton (Mariners): 0 W, 10.2 IP, 9:3 K:BB, 2.53 ERA, 1.22 WHIP
Ownership %: 22.6 ESPN, 69 CBS, 32 Yahoo
It seems that like the Mariners have a nice supply of young pitching arms near big league ready. Paxton is another example and has worked his way back to the Seattle staff after rehabbing an injury. He has yet to go six innings in his return but as he builds up his arm strength, Paxton can be a sneaky play going forward. His xFIP of 2.52 is right in line with his ERA and is a player to target especially when he is pitching at home.
8. Tsuyoshi Wada – Chicago Cubs – 2 W, 29.1 IP, 27/9 K/BB, 3.68 ERA, 1.16 WHIP
Ownership % – 1.6 ESPN, 12 CBS, 4 Yahoo
Even though Wada has been solid over the last month, his ownership numbers do not reflect it. Wada has posted a K/9 of 8.3 and may even have more value than teammate Kyle Hendricks, who I mentioned above.
While replacing an ace like Yu Darvish is never easy, the options above represent players with good value. If they are available, each is worth a chance over the coming weeks.
Statistical credits: ESPN.com, Yahoo.com, CBS.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/VXr6gY
Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!
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