Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market: Brandon Morrow, Alexi Ogando
Brandon Morrow tweaks left oblique
Morrow owners feared the worst yesterday when he left his start in the first inning grabbing his right side. Turns out he dodged a bullet, although he's expected to be put on the 15-day DL with a strained left oblique today.
John Farrell said it's an injury that's "probably substantial," and given the trickiness of oblique ailments, it wouldn't be a shock to see Morrow miss more than 15 days. That's disappointing to his owners, but they'd gladly take that over the alternative: a season-ending injury.
Morrow's maddening inconsistency has been lessened this year, much to the delight of his owners. His 3.01 ERA has been aided by career lows in walk rate (7.8 percent) and fly-ball percentage (39.8). His K/9 has dropped under 10.00 to 7.76 for the first time since 2009, but we'd gladly see a slight sacrifice in dominance in order to gain some much-needed command, which was the root of most of Morrow's prior problems.
Toronto recalled Aaron Laffey from Triple-A Las Vegas, where he was 3-5 with a 4.52 ERA in 63 2/3 innings (11 starts). The Blue Jays haven't announced a replacement for Morrow, but if it's indeed Laffey, only AL-only managers should be concerned. The lefty doesn't offer many fantasy-relevant pitching skills.
The starting rotation depth in Texas went from being deep to seriously lacking in just a few weeks. Ogando, who was tasked with filling a rotation post while Derek Holland (shoulder fatigue, illness) regained strength, was put on the disabled list with a strained right groin. Ron Washington expects Ogando to miss anywhere from four to six weeks.
Despite Ogando's success as a starter last year, his second-half fatigue convinced the Rangers he would be best utilized in the bullpen, especially with Neftali Feliz moving to the rotation. Ogando's move to the rotation was temporary even before he pulled up lame yesterday, though, so his fantasy value wasn't in line to change drastically.
The 28-year-old's dominance out of the 'pen (2.08 ERA, 9.09 K/9, 1.82 BB/9) is useful to rotisserie owners in deep enough leagues, despite the absence of save opps. Check on his availability when he nears a return if you could use some improvement in your pitching ratios and you have the space on your roster.
Until Texas feels Roy Oswalt is ready to make the jump back to the bigs and Holland regains enough strength in his arm, either Michael Kirkman or Robbie Ross will lock down the extra starting spot. The first turn would come Saturday versus the Houston Astros.
Kirkman, a 25-year-old southpaw, has gone 5-1 with a 5.25 ERA, 31 walks and 48 strikeouts in 48 innings (eight starts) for Triple-A Round Rock. Ross has been one of Texas' most reliable relievers, posting a perfect 6-0 record with a 1.30 ERA and 22 strikeouts to just six walks in 34 2/3 innings.
Ross' stellar year to this point, impeccable control and ability to keep the ball out of the air - especially at the Ballpark in Arlington - should endear him to Washington as the front-runner for the spot. However, Kirkman is stretched out from starting on the farm, and he's 4-0 with a 3.38 ERA with 19 walks and 33 K's in his last seven games (five starts).
Regardless of who gets the nod, their stay in the rotation is expected to be short, unless either Oswalt's or Holland's timetable is pushed back. Ross should be targeted first because he's unlikely to do as much damage to your pitching categories.
About Keith Hernandez
Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program. Follow @keithdez27
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