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Pitching injuries are a constant, but the supply of viable replacements
in Fantasy has its limits. Owners will need rest-of-season replacements
for Adam Wainwright (Achilles) and Brandon McCarthy (elbow), and while Masahiro Tanaka's DL stint may not be a long one, forearm issues can
never be taken lightly.
Particularly in the cases of Wainwright and Tanaka, a full recovery of
value cannot be achieved by plucking a pitcher off waivers. Barring your
ability to pull of a trade for an ace, you just may have to settle for
the best available free agent option. Fortunately for owners in standard
mixed leagues, there are three starters with ownership rates under 50
percent in CBSSports.com leagues who are off to promising starts.
But are they worth a shot? Or are appearances deceiving?
Don't look now, but Happ just may be developing some consistency in his
seventh full season in the majors. Going back to last September, he has
turned in six straight quality starts, and over that stretch, his
control has been unusually good. He has been throwing strikes, and the
result has been 27 strikeouts and six walks over 40 2/3 innings.
Regardless of how good Happ's control is, he's not enough of a strikeout
pitcher to be trusted every week, but between some newfound efficiency
and a favorable home park environment, there will be plenty of scoring
periods in which Happ will be worth starting, especially in points
Wood's 2014 season was so miserable that he may have made owners forget
that he has two very good campaigns -- 2010 and 2013 -- under his belt.
Inconsistent control and strong flyball tendencies will always make Wood
a risky play, but he possesses enough upside to make him intriguing. In
his good seasons, Wood has actually displayed good control, and while
not a great strikeout pitcher, he gets infield flies at a high rate,
which has contributed to a career .282 BABIP. Owners shouldn't expect
Wood to maintain a 9.9 K/9 ratio, but he won't necessarily need to in
order to post a mid-3.00s ERA and a WHIP under 1.20.
De La Rosa is the least owned of this trio and also the one with the
highest ERA (4.68) and WHIP (1.28), but he's my go-to free agent starter
right now. He is the one who offers the best chance at strikeouts, and
if he can maintain his improvements in control (five walks in 25
innings, 66 percent strikes thrown), he won't be a liability for WHIP.
The four home runs he has allowed to date have bloated his ERA, and the
long ball is De La Rosa's Achilles heel (apologies to Wainwright
owners). So far, though, De La Rosa has been getting more grounders on
his fastball (per BrooksBaseball.net) and has allowed an average flyball
distance of 265 feet (according to FanGraphs' Interactive Spray Chart