2015 Fantasy Baseball: What To Make of Stephen Strasburg’s Injuries
Welcome to the wide world of fantasy baseball, where dreams of taking home championship trophies are often dashed by injuries to some of your star players.
In this week’s version of the “Injury Report” (kinda boring name, right? I’ll take submissions for new names if ya got one), I’ll be discussing Nationals’ ace Stephen Strasburg, and his recent trip to the 15-day DL.
A first half to forget
A stint on the disabled list seemed inevitable for Strasburg. Everyone that follows baseball knows how disastrous his 2015 season has been. The owner of a career 3.02 ERA and 10.3 K/9 coming into the season, the former San Diego State Aztec had not been himself in 10 starts, posting an atrocious 6.55 ERA and 1.72 WHIP, along with an 8.9 K/9.
After every one of Strasburg’s outings, it became clear that he was likely dealing with an injury of some kind. A 26-year-old stud doesn’t just melt down like that at this stage of his career unless there are other factors at play.
Strasburg complained of shoulder pain after an abbreviated, three-inning start on May 5, which prompted the Nats to push his next outing back one day. Of course, that didn’t help — Strasburg got torched for seven earned runs in 3.1 innings, including two D-Backs’ home runs.
Pain in the neck
A neck strain and some back stiffness will keep Strasburg in shutdown mode for at least the next two weeks. The team doesn’t want him doing anything for the next 14 days, which means that his designated DL “clock” won’t even start till those two weeks are up. This could very well turn into a month-long thing or more, though with the way he was performing, it’s not necessarily a bad idea for the struggling pitcher to take some time off, physically and mentally.
There is a lot of ambiguity surrounding his current injury status. Could this be related to his previous shoulder issue? It’s quite possible, as all three body parts are connected. For now, Strasburg will put himself in the hands of his trainers and doctors as they delve more into the injuries. Maybe the time off will help — it certainly can’t hurt — or maybe these “small” nagging injuries are precursors for a more serious ailment.
All fantasy owners can do at this point is stash him and hope for better days ahead. I would not be dropping him in any leagues until there is more definitive news, even shallow ones. In keeper leagues, this may even be a nice buy-low window for owners playing for next year. At least we know he’s not dealing with another elbow issue, which would lead to a very lengthy absence.
Waiver wire options
Filling Strasburg’s spot on your roster shouldn’t be too difficult, as there are a good deal of starting pitchers readily available on waiver wires.
Tanner Roark was inserted into the Nationals’ rotation when Doug Fister went down with a flexor strain, and he remains a solid pickup. He doesn’t strike many guys out (career 17% K rate), but he has allowed just three runs in 11 innings over his two starts. Last year, Roark dazzled, finishing with 15 wins and a 2.85 ERA, but Washington went out and signed Max Scherzer to a $210 million deal, forcing Roark to the bullpen. Roark is available in 77.6 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues, and frankly, should be owned in all of them given the opportunity that he currently has.
Other pitchers to consider adding: Yovani Gallardo – Rangers (24.4% owned), Jesse Hahn – A’s (15.8% owned), Charlie Morton – Pirates (13.8% owned), Brett Anderson – Dodgers (12.7% owned), Williams Perez – Braves (2.8% owned), Trevor May – Twins (2.6% owned)