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The Zack Greinke Injury and Replacement Options

Zack Greinke smashed his collarbone in a brawl last week, and his injury left a gigantic void in many fantasy pitching staffs. Here are a few quick and dirty recommendations for replacements while Greinke recovers.


Before I get into the possible replacements for Zack Greinke after his unfortunate injury last week, I have a little rant to go on first. I was traipsing around Coachella all weekend, watching Nick Cave creep out 18-year-olds, so I had no idea this incident happened until like three days after the fact. When I read the details of the whole brawl debacle, I was angry. Angry not because I own Greinke in a fantasy league or anything. Angry because Carlos Quentin is a stupid, silly man.

Quentin, of course, charged the mound after being plunked by Greinke last Thursday, and in the ensuing melee, Greinke broke his collarbone, putting him on the shelf for what is expected to be two months. All I can say about this is...really, Carlos Quentin? If you look at Quentin's career, he's a living advertisement for batter arm guards. In his eight-year career, he has been hit by 116 pitches. If you extrapolate his numbers to a 162-game season, he'd average 26 plunks a year. He's topped 20 HBPs three times in his career, and he would have blown past that number last season had he not missed the first part of the year due to injury. I'm pretty sure the dude gets plunked while taking batting practice, or stepping into the clubhouse to take a leak. Long story short, the dude gets hit a lot, mostly because he flat out stands right on top of home plate when he's hitting and leans into every other pitch.

So to be outraged and claim that Greinke had it out for him, and then to charge the mound like a bull on PCP, just seems a little rash of Quentin. Or, dare I say, a tad idiotic. The fact that Quentin's rage-out resulted in a serious injury to another ballplayer just exacerbates the anger. As a Giants fan, I'm not exactly heartbroken that the Dodgers' number two starter will be sidelined for a while, but you never, ever want to see a player get hurt like that, especially not in such stupid fashion. So, Carlos Quentin, congratulations. You win the Dumbass of the Month award.

Obviously the Greinke injury was a major blow to fantasy owners who were relying on him as one of their top starting pitchers. If you're in panic mode and need a starting pitcher to tide you over for the next couple of months while Greinke heals, here are some options. Keep in mind, these guys ain't All-Stars by any means. What we're looking for are quick, serviceable replacements who won't kill your team while you wait for Greinke (or Jered Weaver, or Matt Harrison) to heal.

Ted Lilly

The most obvious replacement pickup. Those who rushed to snag Chris Capuano were patting themselves on the back at their shrewd waiver wire acumen, only to see Capuano himself land on the disabled list like two seconds later (it was subsequently revealed that Capuano also hurt himself in the brawl with the Padres). That means the next guy in line is probably Lilly, who made another rehab start the other day and insists he's ready, despite the fact that the Dodgers are seemingly doing everything in their power to avoid putting him on the major league roster.

Lilly only made eight starts last year before his season ended due to injury, and there's some question of his potential effectiveness after the layoff and because of his advanced age. However, the last truly bad year he had was in 2005, and he had made a name for himself as a consistently above average starter for a number of years. It's not like he's Randy Wolf or something. Worth the pickup if you need the emergency help.

Brandon Maurer

Maurer was a deep sleeper in fantasy leagues, but fans were ready to dismiss him as a total embarrassment after his first two major league starts, the second of which he got knocked out of the first inning against the friggin' Astros. In his third start, he was much more impressive, spinning six good innings in a win over the Rangers. Like magic, he's back on fantasy radars.

Maurer isn't going to blow anyone away with his stuff, but his poise and pitching smarts have been praised as major league-ready. Oh, and did I mention he pitches in Safeco Field? Snap him up if some other owner decided to cut bait on him after his poor first two outings.

Garrett Richards

While the chances of Richards Wally Pipping Jered Weaver after the latter went down with an elbow injury are nil, the chances of him providing some league average innings for a while aren't exactly out of the question. Richards was seen as a decent prospect once upon a time, but had his rise to major league success derailed by shoddy control and a lack of a good secondary pitch. In thirteen career major league starts, he hasn't exactly been an All-Star, but his fastball is still electric, so monitor his starts to see if he can't figure out a changeup on the fly and end up as a free agent bargain.

Robbie Ross

I'm genuinely angry that the Rangers passed over Ross to have Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm act as fill-ins for the injured Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis. Ross demonstrated the ability to limit home runs while striking out hitters in the minors, and anyone who reads my stuff here knows that that combo makes me all gooey inside. In 381 minor league innings, Ross gave up just seventeen homers while whiffing 321 batters. He's still stuck in the Ranger bullpen as their top lefty setup man, but the team tried him out as a starter this spring and he was pretty effective. He's worth stashing for now if (when?) Grimm and/or Tepesch are found wanting, or if Yu Darvish has to miss any time with his blister problem.

Jake Westbrook

No, Westbrook isn't particularly good. And, yes, it's anyone's guess how he's gone two whole starts without giving up an earned run despite walking ten in fourteen innings. You know what, though? His horrendous 4:10 K:BB ratio isn't going to last forever, and he'll inevitably end up with 170-180 league average innings. He always does. If you're in a deep league with innings pitched as a category, Westbrook isn't a terrible injury replacement, especially if you manage him to pick out favorable matchups. Sometimes known mediocrities aren't the worst things in the world.