Tommy John Class of 2013 -- Where are they now?
We've heard a lot lately about players having Tommy John surgery, but not a lot about players coming back from the elbow surgery. Our Michael Hurcomb shines the spotlight on players working their way back from Tommy John surgery.
It's getting to the point where it seems like every time you open the Fantasy News site, go to your team page or open up the newspaper -- if that's still your thing -- you are reading about another player undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery.
I don't know about you, but I can't stop screaming, "When will the madness end?!?!"
While the news lately has been about players lost for the season because of Tommy John surgery, I thought it would be a good time to write about the players that could return from the elbow surgery in 2014 and potentially help your Fantasy lineup.
Matt Harvey , SP, New York Mets : There seems to be conflicting reports about Harvey's potential return in 2014. One day, he's starting to buy into the Mets mantra of taking his recovery slow. The next day, he's shooting to return in August, just 10 months after having the surgery. If Harvey returns in August, he obviously has the potential to be very helpful in Fantasy. But unless you are in a deep format or have ample reserve spots, it might tough using a roster spot on a player still iffy to return this year.
Chad Billingsley , SP, Los Angeles Dodgers : Billingsley appeared well on his way to rejoining the Dodgers' rotation before leaving his only rehab start in early April with "a little sensation" in his surgically repaired elbow. He's finally throwing again, but this setback will probably make the team a little cautious. There's no opening in the Dodgers' rotation, and I don't see them moving to a six-man rotation. Still, with injury prone Josh Beckett in the rotation, I still think it's a good idea to stash Billingsley in larger formats.
Casey Kelly , SP, San Diego Padres : Kelly is 1-0 with a 2.21 ERA through four rehab starts. He's been hit hard, allowing 25 hits in 20 1/3 innings, but he's allowed just one walk and has 17 strikeouts. The Padres have said they have no plans to promote Kelly "anytime soon." Kelly could make his way into the Padres' rotation later this summer, especially if Andrew Cashner doesn't bounce back from his elbow injury. However, I'd only consider stashing Kelly in very deep mixed leagues and NL-only formats.
Joe Wieland , SP, Padres: After missing last season due to Tommy John surgery (had procedure in 2012), Wieland is expected to miss the first half of this season recovering from surgery in late March to remove loose bodies and an impingement in his elbow. I liked Wieland a lot when he was a prospect in the minors. He had a good strikeout rate (8.4 K/9) and good command (1.6 BB/9). He also had a .625 winning percentage and didn't give up a lot of home runs (0.6 HR/9). But he's in the same boat as Kelly. He could make an impact later this summer, but it's not necessary to stash him outside the deepest of formats.
Daniel Hudson , SP, Arizona Diamondbacks : Hudson hasn't pitched since 2012 as he is recovering from two Tommy John surgeries. Prior to getting hurt, he was developing into one of the premier starting pitchers in the majors. Now he's expected to end up in the Diamondbacks' bullpen. Who knows if Hudson might get another chance to start down the road or develop into a closer, but his impact in seasonal Fantasy formats will probably be minimal. He's not worth holding onto outside deep keeper formats.
Eric O'Flaherty , RP, Oakland Athletics : O'Flaherty is about to embark on a rehab assignment, so a pre-All-Star break return seems likely. The left-handed hurler developed into an elite setup man prior to undergoing Tommy John surgery last year. However, in his eight years in the majors, he's never recorded a save and I doubt he's an option for the closer's role in Oakland. O'Flaherty has the potential to help in Rotisserie formats because of his WHIP and ERA, but he can be left on waivers in those formats until he returns.
Jonny Venters , RP, Atlanta Braves : The Braves rotation has been hit hard by elbow injuries this season ( Kris Medlen , Brandon Beachy ), but last season it was the bullpen, as O'Flaherty and Venters both had Tommy John surgery. Like O'Flaherty, Venters was an outstanding setup man for closer Craig Kimbrel and even appeared to be the fallback option for saves when Kimbrel wasn't available. He might get back to that status, but he first has to prove healthy and effective. Again, he's primarily worth a look in Rotisserie formats once healthy. He might play his way into being an option in leagues that reward heavily for holds, but he's not worth stashing.
Kyuji Fujikawa , RP, Chicago Cubs : I bet you forgot about him. I certainly did until I started researching for this column. The last we heard about Fujikawa was he was "ramping up" activity in early May after leaving an extended spring outing in mid-April. If you recall, Fujikawa was actually elevated to the closer role last April, but held the job for just a short period before developing arm problems. Hector Rondon is the Cubs' unofficial closer since Jose Veras was removed from the role. I honestly feel Rondon has the ability to keep the job the rest of the season, but it seemed Fujikawa was being groomed for the role prior to getting hurt, so maybe he's a name we store away for a rainy day.
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