People often look to the waiver wire to attempt to find the next great add to store on their bench. Oftentimes, that leads to owners swiping up prospects who are lurking in the minor leagues. This makes it very easy to forget the guys already in the major leagues who haven’t played a single game this season because of injury, but also weren’t drafted. These guys can often play a bigger role than prospects to fantasy success, who often struggle at first. Here is a status update on 12 guys who have yet to play in a single game all season, but are all expected to play in one at some point later in the year. Yes, this will be the only article I ever write for RotoAnalysis where more then 33% of the players are Yankees.
It has been an extremely slow and frustrating recovery for Derek Jeter from the ankle injury he suffered last postseason. Jeter recently underwent another operation on his ankle and probably won’t be back in the majors until around the trade deadline at the earliest. I wouldn’t expect Jeter to produce either 5 homers or stolen bases this season, which is frustrating after an impressive season for the Yankee captain last year. Jeter’s age is likely beginning to catch up with him and he’s probably nothing more than a good MI option when he does return.
The Yankee first basemen is clearly on the downslope of his career, but that doesn’t mean he has nothing left in the tank. Although last year was his first year with less than 30 home runs since 2003, he still produced 24 long balls in a year in which he only played 123 games. Teixeira is no longer the elite, top tier firstbasemen he once was, but he is certainly still in the conversation for a top 10 play when he does come back. Teixeira is a notoriously slow starter who has hit .211 in his last three Aprils, so he may not produce much production in his first few weeks back, which could create even more opportunity to buy low on the Yankee first basemen. He’s expected to take on-field BP this week, which should put him in line for a return to the majors in a month.
Rodriguez was finally able to begin the most basic baseball activities, but refused to guarantee that he would make his return to the Bronx this year. It seems like Rodriguez is playing it safe here and should be able to make it back to the Bronx right around the time Derek Jeter will return. From 1998 through 2010, A-Rod recorded 30 or more home runs in every season, but since then he hasn’t been able to top twenty. The bright side for the slugger is that he raised his Line Drive rate 10% last season, which was his highest total since 2003. However, the slugger struck out in the highest percentage of his at-bats since he played a full-season in 1996. A-Rod’s story is very similar to his other injured teammates. He will provide value just outside of the top 10 at his position when he returns and he’s a guy whose best days are certainly behind him.
Finally! Good news for Yankee fans as Granderson will likely rejoin the Yankees lineup today. Granderson injured his wrist in spring training and most didn’t even expect the injury to cause Granderson to miss this much time, but the Yankees aging stars have been taking their time to get healthy. Granderson looked comfortable at the plate this week and stroked one home run, a good sign as players recovering from wrist surgery who usually struggle with their power. Once he returns, Granderson will likely be a top-15 option in the outfield who hits for 25 homers and improves his average from last year. He won’t be found on your waiver wire, but if he struggles out of the gate, don’t hesitate to try and buy-low on the proven slugger.
With the struggles of Jesus Montero, it would seem fair to declare the Yankees the winner of their Pineda-Montero deal, but the big righty has yet to fire a pitch for the Yankees. Pineda dealt with numerous injuries last year, but is currently throwing in Extended Spring Training. Reports have Pineda topping out in the mid-90’s and put him on track to begin a rehab assignment sometime in the next two weeks. If this is the case and he takes the maximum amount of rehabilitation time, he would return to the Bronx before July 1st. Pineda could wind up being a huge fantasy sleeper in the second-half, who is worth picking up in most leagues. In his rookie campaign, Pineda’s 95 MPH fastball helped him post a 3.74 ERA with lower FIP and xFIP number. While it is fair to point out that the righty is moving from Safeco to Yankee Stadium, the tall righty could still produce Top-35 starting pitcher value once he returns.
Tommy John Guys:
Beachy will be handed a spot in the rotation when he returns from Tommy John Surgery as Julio Teheran continues to struggle. As Tommy John is no longer considered extremely risky, look for Beachy to go back to being an extremely effective fantasy option once he returns, with the possibility of having added an extra mile to his fastball. As for when Beachy will return, a month seems like a reasonable target as he will throw one more bullpen session, which should clear him for a minor league assignment assuming he passes the bullpen with flying colors.
Another righty returning from Tommy John, Daniel Hudson is currently throwing batting practice and likely a week or two behind Brandon Beachy in his rehab. Hudson struggled in 2012, but one could speculate that was due to injury after posting extremely impressive 2011 numbers. While Hudson won’t post great strikeout numbers, he should be able to provide his fantasy teams with a 3.00-3.50 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. Although I would rather have Beachy, Hudson seems to be slightly more favorable then Michael Pineda as he carries less risk and should return sooner.
As the third Tommy John recoverer in as many names, this left-hander seems more on track with Brandon Beachy although the Royals have been somewhat quiet about his rehab. He threw 3 innings last minute in a simulated game, which should put him on tap to return to the Royals in early to mid June assuming there is a spot for him in the rotation. Although Royals bloggers have suggested he could spend more time in the minors, the Royals currently have Luis Mendoza and his 6.38 ERA in their rotation. The left-hander was struggling for fantasy owners in 2012 as he struggled with his control as he walked over 5.9 hitters per nine despite posting a FIP under 4.00. Even if Duffy has to forfeit some extra strikeouts to significantly lower his walk-rate, it is obvious how dominant his numbers could be if he improved his control. The stuff is their to back-up the dreamy potential as his fastball will approach 100 MPH. Look for Duffy to me amongst this group of pitchers coming back from Tommy John who could have a major impact in the second half.
(Editor’s Note: Felipe Paulino is a week or two behind Duffy, but should also provide AL-Only value when he returns including excellent strikeout rates. He was in the midst of a breakout campaign that few were noticing before Tommy John surgery derailed his season.)
Luebke is the going to be the last to return amongst these guys and possibly won’t return this season, but is worth holding in an NL-Only league and a deep mixed league. He was in the midst of his second straight season with a FIP under 2.95 when he was forced to undergo surgery. While he is just in the early stages of throwing, Luebke and his Padres home park could be a great boost for fantasy teams as the playoffs approach and after the trading deadline is past; a time where all teams are desperate to locate that one final boost.
This pair of Rangers arms hasn’t thrown an inning this year for big-league club, but that isn’t far away. Martin Perez was activated off of the disabled list this weekend, but immediately demoted to AA to continue to sharpen his stuff. Although the young pitcher likely will have more fantasy value in the future, the Rangers will likely call upon him at some point this year although that may be in the rotation or the bullpen. On the other hand, Lewis missed his schedule bullpen session over the weekend, but claims to not be overly concerned about the issue. This latest setback will likely cause it to be another week before Lewis pitches in a minor league game, which means another two weeks before Lewis would toe the mound for the Rangers. Lewis was in the midst of a big season for the Rangers, as he was showing an incredible control. The Rangers starter should likely be played in all 12-team leagues when he returns by the end of the month.
Corey Hart seems to enjoy spending the first part of the season on the disabled list, but is remarkably consistent and underrated when he returns. The outfielder will provide owners with over 20 home runs when he returns with a handful of still and a batting average that will likely not hurt or help your team. In addition, Hart will be positioned in the midst of a Brewers lineup so should drive in his fair share of runs. As for a return date, Hart expects to return the day he is eligible to come off the disabled list on May 30th, but that would likely require a rehab assignment to begin in the next week. Keep an eye on this, but expect Hart back by June 15th at the latest and a guy worth owning in every league.
Matt Schwimmer is a co-founder of RotoAnalysis. Look for his work all season long on RotoAnalysis.com & CBSPhilly.com and follow him on Twitter @Schwimingly !
Photo Credit: http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/blog/eye-on-baseball/19370825/brandon-beachy-hits-disabled-list-with-elbow-injury-jair-jurrjens-coming-back