While we’re still a few weeks away from the first real edition of The List, and we already have too many injured pitchers.
I made my initial rankings assuming health for all but the obviously injured and there are many adjustments to make one week into March.
So let’s go over the major injuries and talk about how it changes The List:
We didn’t expect Kershaw to collect 30 starts this year, though the rationale was built upon an ailing back (a poor foundation, clearly) and Kershaw’s early delay is due to shoulder discomfort – a completely separate issue. All reports are that Kershaw will not miss a significant portion of time, though I can’t shake the gut feeling that he will not make 20 starts this year. It points to owners playing chicken in drafts and I can tell you something that will make you rest easy:
“You can just ignore Kershaw and not have a single headache.”
Ta-da, it’s that easy. But fine, if I were doing my rankings today, I’d be placing Kershaw around No. 30, just behind Madison Bumgarner.
The ramifications of Kershaw’s injury is simple: Draft Ross Stripling. Previously the No. 5 starter, Stripling’s rotation spot becomes even more secure as the No. 4 man, presenting a clearer path to 25+ starts on the season. When those starts come with a possible 3.50 ERA, 25% K rate, and sub 1.20 WHIP, you’ll be a very happy owner. I’m putting him just under No. 35 in my ranks currently.
In another episode of “Just Don’t Draft Him,” I recommend ignoring Carlos Martinez … for the most part. I admit, I was a plenty more optimistic than I should have been, with Martinez given a sling for his hurt shoulder. I had him in the Top 25 in early February … which now turns into the mid-60s. There’s a chance CarMart returns to St. Louis as their de facto closer, but for now, this is another headache I simply don’t want to deal with as he doesn’t seem anywhere close to starting again.
Meanwhile, there’s a race for the No. 5 spot in St. Louis. Possible free agent signings aside, my guess is for the Cardinals to still hold back on Alex Reyes, instead favoring Daniel Poncedeleon or Austin Gomber. I’m not a fan of the latter options and I wouldn’t jump on either unless I was in a deep NL-Only league, in which case I’d favor Gomber. I could be wrong here and Reyes suddenly begins the year in the rotation, but I imagine he has plenty of rust to shake off first, turning him into a long reliever or even another stint in the minors first.
The Braves Rotation
This is something else. Mike Foltynewicz is hurting with a sore elbow, while all of Mike Soroka, Kevin Gausman, and Luiz Gohara are dealing with shoulder soreness. I have been down on Sean Newcomb and Julio Teheran this preseason, particularly because they aren’t strong pitchers, but also due to the possible influx of young pitching in the Braves’ farm system, yet these recent injuries seem to elevate their stock a bit as their rotation spots look more secure.
Touki Toussaint also benefits as he should be earning the fifth (or is it even fourth now?) spot in the rotation with Soroka and Gohara ailing. I’d have him around the mid 60s, though I still find it hard to trust his fastball and splitter are good enough to properly complement his filthy curveball.
There is so much up in the air in Atlanta at the moment that I can’t give an accurate ranking now, but those drafting today should be wary of Foltynewicz – let’s say mid-40s right now? – while passing on Soroka and Gohara. Gausman seems to be alright and possibly ready for opening week and even if he misses a start, that shouldn’t do a whole lot to his season-long value.
I apologize for the lack of planted flags here, there’s simply so much that could happen in the next few weeks as we have little information about the true nature of these pitchers’ injuries. At the very least, I imagine Soroka will be babied for a while – probably ramped up in the minors – which makes him all but a last-round flier in 12-teamers. Gohara will likely get a chance earlier, but the hope that either sits in the rotation as April ends is a bit fruitless at the moment.
This one is incredibly frustrating as James has all the tools to have a massive impact as a starting pitcher. James is out of “starting pitcher contention” following his strained quad, meaning Framber Valdez or Brad Peacock will be starting for the Astros. I believe at some point we’ll see James back in the rotation, but it may not be until next season – James could dominate as a reliever as someone like Forrest Whitley could slide into a rotation spot ahead of him midseason.
Between Valdez and Peacock, I’m favoring Peacock in my drafts, slotting him around the mid-70s. Peacock took a step back last year with his deadly slider and still lacks a strong third pitch, though his upside is worth the gamble late in drafts.
Injuries are the WORST. Severino is dealing with inflammation in his right shoulder, forcing the Yankees to shut him down for at least two weeks. In my estimations, I’d guess Severino will miss his first four starts of the year, forcing me to bring him down in my ranks … probably to about No. 17 above his teammate James Paxton. They should both throw roughly the same amount of innings and I trust Severino’s quality slightly more.
Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga are fighting to replace Severino, though there is a chance that both crack the opening day roster with CC Sabathia possibly missing his first start or two. Between these two arms, I like German slightly more simply because I believe he’ll get more starts in the rotation out of the gate. However, given equal opportunity, I see Loaisiga as the better option and if there is any path to 150 frames, Loaisiga could be an incredible snag in 12-teamers. Go with German now given the circumstances (I’d slot him in the early 70s), but keep your eye on Loaisiga.
(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)