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Injury Watch: Morrow, Ogando, Roberts

Hey there, folks. I'm Bryan Grosnick, and I'm the newest member of the RotoAuthority writing team. Each week, I'll be exploring some of the most important and interesting injuries in baseball, and how you can adjust your fantasy squad to take advantage, or at least limit the damage. Today, we'll take a look at two young, productive starters who'll miss time due to injury, as well as the return of an old friend at second base.

Brandon Morrow, Blue Jays

I'm a registered sucker for Brandon Morrow. I add him in multiple fantasy leagues every year, and this one finally seemed like the year that the copious strikeouts lead to great wins and ERA numbers in addition to his always strong strikeout rates. Weirdly, this year his gaudy whiff numbers have been down, but those numbers and his WHIP all were looking up from his previous career numbers.

Unfortunately for his owners (like me), Morrow strained an oblique muscle after just nine pitches on Monday, and now looks to hit the DL. Oblique injuries can linger, and while it may not be time to drop Morrow based on this one injury, you may need someone to fill his slot in your rotation while he misses a few weeks to the DL. This is a stash-and-save guy, not a drop.

While Jesse Chavez is likely going to replace Morrow in Toronto's rotation, he's not the first guy I'd go to to fill out my squad. If he's still available in your league (and he's available in about half of ESPN leagues), I'd take a long look at Felix Doubront of the Red Sox. Let's be real for a minute ... if you own Morrow in fantasy, you're probably a sucker for strikeouts. And Doubront right now has the sixth-highest K/9 of qualified starters in the Majors. But if Doubront is owned in your league (or you're biased against Red Sox or AL East pitchers), give Erik Bedard a look. Bedard has a very sharp 8.76 K/9 right now, and as long as he stays healthy, he'll put up solid numbers in Pittsburgh.

Alexi Ogando, Rangers

Just as Alexi regained a spot in the Rangers rotation, the injury bug bites and now he'll miss time due to a right groin strain. Ouch. As of today, he's expected to miss four-to-six weeks with the injury. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that in your typical shallow 5x5 league, he's safe to drop. By the time he comes back, there may not be a spot for him in the Texas rotation, and setup guys (no matter how good they are), don't fit on every fantasy squad.

While he probably won't be the immediate replacement in Texas's rotation, it may be time to bring in Roy Oswalt, if he's available in your league. Oswalt won't set the world on fire, and he has to deal with some tough park effects in Arlington, but he's still an above-average starter. He won't strike guys out like he did in his heyday, but he's great at limiting walks and almost always posts an ERA under three-and-a-half. The Rangers are an elite team, and they're as good a bet to stack wins as anyone. The only question is when Roy will be ready for the call to the major leagues.

Brian Roberts, Orioles

Welcome (back) to Birdland, Brian. After 13 months off the field, Roberts returned to major-league action on Tuesday. Best of all, he managed a single to lead off the game for the O's, and as of this writing, he's 2-for-3 with a sac fly on the evening. This has got to be music to fans of the Orioles, and for people desperate for a 2B looking for help on the wire.

Here's the bad news, though. Brian Roberts was not been very good in limited action in 2011, and his skills appeared to be on the way down in 2010 as well. In previous years, you bought Brian Roberts hoping for 10 homers, 30+ steals, 90+ runs and an above-average batting average. But given the injury concerns, and it being unrealistic to expect a return to his career numbers at the age of 34, I'd temper my expectations and hope for about a third of those numbers. For the rest of the season, I could see 3 HR, 10 SB, 30 R and an average hovering around .270. That's not bad off the wire, but it's also not worth dropping Dustin Ackley over.

So who would I drop for Roberts? I wouldn't run Jamey Carroll or Jemile Weeks out there over Roberts at this time. Daniel Murphy probably isn't going to out-produce Roberts unless an injury recurs. But your usual top-twelve 2Bs are all safe, as no one should bail on Ben Zobrist or Kelly Johnson for Roberts. But time will tell if the old Brian Roberts is back for the long haul.

Quick Hits: Roger Bernadina left Monday's game with a strained hamstring, and he'll be re-evaluated on Tuesday. But seriously, what are you doing with Roger Bernadina on your fantasy squad? He's walking at a good clip, but people in 5x5 leagues should look for, well, anyone else as a replacement. ... Chase Utley is starting his rehab assignment this week, so look for him to reach the majors around the end of June or early July, barring a setback. Just keep in mind that, like Roberts, he may not be the Chase of old right away. Or, sadly, ever again. ... The Braves skipped Tim Hudson's most recent start due to painful bone spurs in his ankle, but Hudson had a strong bullpen session this week, and looks to make his regularly-scheduled start on Wednesday


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