Let's just talk about some hurt American Leaguers today, yeah?
I was looking through my normal list of Yahoo! players sorted by ownership, and I got down around some big names who are out with various and sundry bugaboos.
"Oh," I thought. "James Paxton is available. He'll be back soon, and he's only 25 percent owned. Maybe I should write about him." A few lines later, I saw Derek Holland. "Oh!" I thought. "Yeah, Holland will be back soonish too. And at 12 percent? Maybe him!"
Yeah, it didn't take much of this for me to decide to settle on a plan. This will be some quick hits, looking at guys that are back soon and were either widely dropped or never heavily owned to begin with, and what I think we can expect out of them fantasy-wise the rest of the way.
(As you might imagine, the Tommy John guys won't be appearing here. They ain't gonna be back this year. Sad face.)
Coming Friday: National League! (That was easy to figure out, too.)
(50 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues) - Calhoun's been out since April 15 with a sprained ankle. He was given a four-to-six-week prognosis when he got hurt, and four weeks was Tuesday. Fittingly, Calhoun is now out on a rehab assignment, and could be back as early as Wednesday. Calhoun hit .250/.297/.500 with three home runs in 14 games before his injury, and with Raul Ibanez and Collin Cowgill both middling at best, there should be no worries about playing time.
How's that ownership? In a limited sample to start the season, Calhoun had fine power but middling on-base skills. He did much better in the latter department last season. Fifty percent might be a little on the light side, but he's never been seen as a star-to-be; add him if you have room, but don't go crazy.
(22 percent) - Man, who woulda thought a 230-pound 32-year-old coming off a missed season because of knee problems might have struggled with a move back to the outfield in a pitcher's park? Hart was hitting only .209/.295/.353 when he strained his left hamstring Sunday, landing him on the DL. He's expected to miss 4-6 weeks, but lord knows he'll be welcomed back with open arms whenever he does get back.
How's that ownership? Way too high, guys. Come on. Hart's a reasonably big name, but the best we can say about him this season is that he has five home runs. If you drop him and someone else picks him up, that's okay. If he's out there on the waiver wire, don't go crazy. Wait until he gets back to pick him up, if even then.
(2 percent) - Hellickson has been out since January after an elbow surgery, but he's been throwing bullpen sessions lately, and he's looking at a return possibly in late June. Considering the team has Erik Bedard and Cesar Ramos making starts, and Jake Odorizzi struggling, the Rays are likely to give Hellickson every chance as a starter whenever his return does come.
How's that ownership? Not bad. Hellickson is still at least a month away from a return, and he's sitting on a career 4.39 FIP with a K/9 of less than 6.5. If he's a full-time starter on a good defensive team like Tampa Bay's, sure, stream him on occasion. But in general, he's not anyone who needs to be relied on.
(12 percent) - Knowing the Rangers' luck this season, Holland's car will blow up before his return. But assuming they've sated their gremlins, Holland is due back sometime in late June or early July from knee surgery. He's been rehabbing and throwing in simulated games so far. Holland has always been seen as a potential top-of-the-line pitcher, and he moved in that direction last year, putting up a 3.42 ERA (3.44 FIP) in 213 innings, easily his best season.
How's that ownership? Probably time for it to start rising. The team's injury issues are well-documented - Scott Baker, Nick Martinez, and Nick Tepesch are all in the rotation right now - so adding Holland to Yu Darvish would be nice. He's still a month out, so maybe wait a bit, but Holland is definitely worth keeping an eye on.
(16 percent) - Infante is eligible to return from the DL Thursday after dealing with back spasms, though the team might hold off a few extra days. He was mildly productive before his injury - .267/.326/.392, two homers - but even that mild production has towed over the Royals' other options - primarily Johnny Giavotella, who has hit .176/.216/.265 in 37 plate appearances.
How's that ownership? Fine. Infante should get chances at runs scored, and his .267 batting average would be his lowest since 2005. That said, he's not going to do much for you in either power or speed. In a deeper league, Infante's worth it, but in a 10- or 12-teamer, he's not really worth it.
(10 percent) - Dude has just a great last name. And he was a good enough closer for the Yankees while David Robertson was hurt, converting all four of his opportunities as the team's closer. He allowed runs in only three of his 16 outings, but he allowed multiple runs two of those times, leaving his ERA at a slightly ungainly 3.52. He's striking out better than a batter per inning, though, when he's healthy, and it looks like he'll be back within the next couple of weeks.
How's that ownership? If you're in a saves+holds league (as all leagues should be, sigh), Kelley will be as good a reliever as most of the pitchers that actually do get saves. If you aren't in a S+H league, Kelley will still be the handcuff to Robertson (Dellin Betances has pitched great, but I think they go Kelley first). Still, for now, 10 percent feels about right.
(1 percent) - If you had asked me to name a baseball player I'd be least likely to write about this season, I might actually have named Kouzmanoff, as he is just famous enough to be one of those on-the-fringes guy. Regardless, he hit .362/.412/.617 for Texas, largely while Adrian Beltre was hurt, before winding up on the DL needing back surgery. Kouzmanoff will be out until at least the All-Star break.
How that ownership? Fine. With Prince Fielder, Mitch Moreland, and Beltre in Texas, it's hard to imagine Kouzmanoff getting anything like full-time play whenever he does return, and it's just as hard to see him keeping up his hot play even if he does get a lineup spot.
(47 percent) - That ownership percentage looks likely to plummet after he hurt his ankle in Monday's game (thanks, dude, for waiting until after my Monday closer piece to get hurt). As long as he's out, it looks like the team might be going to Daniel Webb (4 percent owned) or Ronald Belisario (5 percent) to close games out, though they also called up has-closer-experience Javy Guerra when they DL'd Lindstrom.
How's that ownership? Too high, obviously. Lindstrom has pitched to a 3.32 ERA so far, but that comes with a 4.71 FIP and a 1.474 WHIP, and he's only saved six of his nine opportunities. The best you could really say about him was that he had the job, and if any of the fill-ins do well, it's easy to imagine Lindstrom doesn't get saves again.
(26 percent) - Things aren't looking too great for ol' Middlin'brooks (h/t me). He hit the DL Saturday with a broken right index finger after struggling to a .197/.305/.324 line in 82 plate appearances, with only two home runs. And now it looks like the Red Sox will be playing Xander Bogaerts at third base, since Boston resigned Stephen Drew Tuesday (more on that later).
How's that ownership? Again, way too high, though again, it's too early for it to have fallen too much. I don't see any way Middlebrooks gets anything resembling full-time plate appearances once Drew is ready to play. He shouldn't be owned except in the deepest of leagues.
(25 percent) - Paxton has been out since April 9 with a lat strain, but he's moving toward a return, possibly as soon as in the next week. Paxton started the season well in his first two starts, going 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 12 innings. He's now 5-0 on his young career, and with Chris Young and Brandon Maurer in the Seattle rotation, they're probably champing at the bit for his return.
How's that ownership? Mostly fine. If you can afford to grab someone and hold on for a week or two, Paxton is a great candidate. That number will be climbing soon. Maybe it should start now.
(41 percent) - Profar has started playing in extended Spring Training, building toward a return from a torn shoulder muscle in mid-to-late June (at the earliest). With the Rangers' second basemen at large putting up an OPS around .530 so far this year (my recommendation to look at Rougned Odor in fantasy notwithstanding), his return is eagerly awaited.
How's that ownership? Too high, probably. We all know Profar's pedigree, and I do think he has a bright future (superstar bright), but 41 percent of leagues have someone sitting back and waiting on a kid with a career line of .231/.301/.343 and only two steals in six opportunities. Grab him when he's back (or really close), but this isn't a long-term stash.
(32 percent) - Rasmus hit the DL Thursday with right hamstring tightness. It sounds like as short a stay as he can manage. He hasn't been getting on base this season, but the power has been there (.222/.266/.489 slash line), but that's basically what we've come to expect from Rasmus throughout his career - power, run production, not much batting average. His two years with a decent average - .276 in both 2010 and 2013 - coincided with his two years of .350-plus BABIPs; he's been around .260-.270 the rest of the time.
How's that ownership? Fine, though I think it falls too low before he gets back. Rasmus isn't an all-around fantasy player, but you can feel reasonably sure he'll put up enough power and run production to be worthwhile. If you have him, he's someone I'd look to keep stashed.
(3 percent) - Scheppers went to the DL with elbow soreness after pitching to a 9.82 ERA in four starts (18.1 innings). The good news is his FIP was more than three-and-a-half runs better than his ERA; the bad news is that it was still 6.29. Basically, Scheppers was put on the DL with "If he isn't hurt, we'll just hurt him ourselves." Still, he pitched to a 1.88 ERA a year ago in relief; there's at least some talent there. After early reports that he'd rehab as a starter, though, it now looks like he's going to be a reliever upon his return.
How's that ownership? I kind of want to meet the three percent of owners who still have Scheppers stashed after that start to the season. Anyway, he's not going to be a starter, and he's certainly not going to supplant Joakim Soria as closer; Scheppers is fully droppable.
(7 percent) - Sure, this isn't strictly injury-related. That's why I put him here at the end, instead of in his alphabetical spot. Drew signed with Boston Tuesday, and reports say he's kept himself in game shape or close. Still, there will be some spring-training-like period for Drew before he's back in the bigs. Whenever he is ready, though, as I said above, it's him and Bogaerts on the left side of the Boston infield.
How's that ownership? It obviously needs to climb, and it will. That said, Stephen Drew isn't vintage Alex Rodriguez or anything, and it started to feel like baseball people were painting him as such. "What should the Tigers do? The Yankees? The Red Sox? The Mets?" Drew was being painted as a veritable baseball panacea when this is a guy with a career OPS+ of 98. He'll be fine as your fantasy middle infielder, but if he's your starting shortstop you'll want to improve.