It's easy to think about guys who have been injured on the short-term as fantasy adds. Hyun-Jin Ryu and Justin Verlander and Matt Cain. They were around this spring, and that means they're lodged in our (relatively) short-term memories. Sure, the news on Verlander of late isn't exciting, but those are the kinds of guys you're likely to remember to stash.
And then there are the guys the contenders are eagerly awaiting. Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin and Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen likely aren't stashed in many leagues, but at the least we hear every few weeks how the A's and Dodgers and Royals have reinforcements en route for down-the-road help.
There's a blind spot in there, though. Guys who have been out a long time and aren't coming back to help any contending team. It's not exactly the spot you want to be in — "Oh, my career was put on hold for 18 months, and I'm coming back to pitch for fourth place instead of fifth?" — but it does yield fantasy contributors who fly under the radar even as they work their way back.
The obvious example of this, for me, this season is Patrick Corbin. Corbin hasn't pitched since spring training last year, when he went for Tommy John surgery. That was on the heels of an excellent 2013 season (14-8, 3.41 ERA, 3.43 FIP) that was actually an excellent first half spoiled a bit by a poor second half.
I had some points to make here, but googling other Corbin stuff led me to our "starting pitchers to avoid in 2014" post, written before Corbin's injury last season, and many of my points were made there, so ... screenshot time!
First, the worry:
Then, the counter:
I can find stats to make me scared of Corbin because of his second half, and I can find stats to make me disregard that ugly ERA. That's kind of how stats work.
Ultimately, though, it's all a question. As is the question of exactly when Corbin will return from his rehab — he's been throwing live batting practice and simulated games, preparing for a theoretical June return, but we all know how rehabs can go. On the plus side, it's not like the Diamondbacks don't have room for him. He could literally replace anyone in that rotation not named Archie Bradley and it wouldn't faze me.
The point is that, in a deeper league, there are only so many potential difference-makers out there. In my AL-only league, I put in a bid on Kyle Blanks Tuesday evening on the off chance the Rangers call him up. I tried to put a similar one in on Jonathan Villar, with his callup happening, only to discover he was already owned. When you're in the deepest of leagues, you don't get many chances to add someone who could make a real impact.
Corbin is high risk. All of these injured guys are. That doesn't make him a guy you don't invest in. That makes him a guy you stash now, especially if you have an open DL spot. You keep him stashed even after his return. Let him make a start or two in the bigs. Once that has happened, and you can see how he is, that's when you activate him. In a world starved for potential difference-makers, Corbin — owned in five percent of Yahoo! leagues — has an outside chance of being one.