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Injury Watch: Seriously, Stop Messing With The Roles Of Talented Young Pitchers

Happy Day-After-Trade-Deadline-Day, dear readers! There's quite a lot to read about with trade analyses and game recaps, but take a moment to give this week's Injury Watch a once-over. We'll go over a few starting pitchers who'll be out for the season with injury, and will provide you with some sterling replacements. Some of them are even coming off the DL themselves, but don't let that hold you back.

Neftali Feliz, Rangers

The official injury of 2012, a torn UCL in the pitching elbow, claims yet another victim in the young and talented Rangers hurler Neftali Feliz. Feliz has struggled with injuries during his first major-league season as a starter, but now he'll need Tommy John surgery that will keep him out until mid-2013. While I won't say that bouncing between the rotation and the bullpen actually caused the injury, it probably hasn't helped either his health or his development. At any rate, in 2012 Feliz has outperformed a very average FIP by sporting a 3.16 ERA and 37 strikeouts in seven starts and a relief appearance. That's not too bad, but hardly the dominant performance one might have expected given his elite pedigree. With him out, a few fantasy owners banking on his talent and recovery from injury will be looking for a replacement to finish the season.

So let's look at another starting pitching option from the Rangers as a potential replacement. But if you're thinking that I'm going to recommend Ryan Dempster, the newest Ranger, think again. Don't get me wrong, Dempster has had a terrific season, at least until his most recent starts, but he'll take a performance hit moving to unforgiving Rangers Ballpark and the even-more-unforgiving American League. (Plus, he's owned in all leagues.)

No, I'd give a long look to Alexi Ogando. Ogando was a fantastic reliever for the Rangers in 2010, and nearly as fantastic in a starting role in 2011. I'd prefer to see the Rangers not move Ogando back and forth from the bullpen to the rotation, but that's how things go in Texas. At any rate, Ogando has been solid again in 2012, this time back in the bullpen. He pairs good strikeout stuff with careful control, and just needs to limit his home runs allowed to stay effective as a starter. And because of Ogando's combination of control and stuff, he keeps WHIP low, along with his ERA. The thing about Alexi is that he does not *necessarily* have a rotation spot locked down yet. Roy Oswalt has been banished to the bullpen, Feliz is out, but Dempster is moving in. If you hear anything about Ogando moving to the rotation, pounce right away.

John Danks, White Sox

Okay, okay. So Danks wasn't jerked around from starter to bullpen like Feliz was, but the endgame is the same. For Danks, it's an injury to the left-hander's pitching shoulder, and is one that will require season-ending surgery that's scheduled for August 6.

Prior to the injury, Danks was, well, awful. 2012 was easily his worst season thus far in the majors, as Danks had posted a 5.00 FIP and only managing 0.3 fWAR. When it comes to fantasy stats, things are just as bad, with only 3 wins, a 5.70 ERA, and a career-low strikeout rate. Danks has only managed 53.2 innings on the season to this point, and hasn't looked "right" all season.

So how does one replace John Danks? Well, if he was still on your fantasy squad, shame on you! Maybe you're in an AL-only, or your league gives points for shoulder injuries, I dunno. But for a replacement, consider new teammate Francisco Liriano, if he's around in your league. Liriano started the season rough, but has come on in recent weeks, culminating in a strong debut last night with the Sox. Come hell or high water, Liriano WILL give your team strikeouts. They may come at the expense of a higher WHIP (Liriano still walks far too many batters), but he stands a better chance of winning games now that he's on an improved White Sox squad instead of toiling in the Twin Cities. Liriano is still available in a third of ESPN leagues.

If Liriano (or Ogando above) don't do anything for you, or if either are taken in your leagues, consider a pair of rehabbing A's. Both Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy have made recent rehab starts in Triple-A, and at peak performance, both are quite effective starters. McCarthy is currently available in more than half of ESPN leagues, while Anderson is owned in practically zero leagues. As you might expect, especially given the wisdom of crowds, I'd rather have McCarthy than Anderson for the end of 2012. McCarthy has been better, and done it more recently (he's actually pitched in 2012) along with having a slightly better FIP. But Anderson is a fine young pitcher, and closer than one might think to his Cy Young-candidate teammate. Don't be afraid to add either.

Quick Hits: Jose Bautista still hasn't hit live pitching, but hopes to avoid a rehab assignment. I'm cautiously optimistic that he'll be back in the lineup for the Jays by August 10. ... Another perennial MVP candidate, Troy Tulowitzki, is taking live BP, as of July 31, so hopefully he can get back in the game by the middle-to-end of August. ... Jaime Garcia is on his way back from his shoulder issues, and I'd look for him to rejoin the Cardinal rotation after two more rehab starts. Perhaps August 8-9? ... Placido Polanco hit the DL with lower back inflammation, and with the Phils fading, I can't imagine they'll rush him back. See you at the end of August, Placido! ... No new news yet about Mark Teixeira's inflammed wrist. The Yankee slugger left the game on 7/30, had a cortisone shot and MRI the next day, and is currently day-to-day. ... The Rays' franchise player, Evan Longoria, is limited to DH duty in his rehab assignment, and would have the same role if called back up to the bigs, but could see time in The Trop before the next edition of Injury Watch. ... While unsurprising, the Tigers are understandably disappointed that C/1B/DH Victor Martinez will probably not return for the 2012 season. ... Matt Capps is still dealing with rotator cuff irritation, and is still shut down from throwing for another few days at the least. I don't like to be a Negative Ned here, but Capps isn't really good enough to be the Minnesota closer anyways, so getting extra Jared Burton time is a blessing in disguise for the Twins. ... Yeah, about Brett Gardner, he's not coming back this year, after having season-ending elbow surgery. Bad news for Yankees fans and fans of watching him play an awesome left field and steal bases. 


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