Fantasy Baseball Round Table: Hamels or Iwakuma? Pujols or Kemp?

by Todd Zola, on March 12, 2014 @ 13:52:47 PDT


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Todd Zola

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Machine back in action?

Is anyone concerned that since Iwakuma's bread and butter is a splitter that a finger injury could be more of an issue for him?

Lawr Michaels

I'm too freaked out about owning Hamels and his issues to think beyond it.

Rob Leibowitz

I'd imagine until he can show he can throw his splitter effectively in extended spring training/rehab starts, he won't come off the DL, but that's wishful thinking on my part. Never underestimate a player's willingness to play through pain. At the very least, if he isn't throwing it effectively, it will be quite visible as soon as we see him pitch.

Tim Heaney

I'm absolutely concerned about the finger issues hurting Iwakuma's signature pitch. The wide grip he uses puts more strain on the tendon. It has the potential for being a chronic pain even when he does come back. Hamels seems like a workload-related issue that I think he can work around. From reports, it seems that once he's back, there probably won't be any lingering effects, or at least those as drastic as Iwakuma's could be.

I believe in Pujols' recovery more than Kemp's. Albert's seems to have followed all the necessary steps to minimize the fear. His age will of course be a detriment, but I don't foresee it being a problem at the price he's commanding. Kemp will have chronic problems but could be a fine value if he slips. I'm not banking on a pace of 20 SB in a full season, but everything else could meet his usual levels, even if it's for four months. That's worth something in, say, Round 5.

Nicholas Minnix

Me! I wasn't worried about how Iwakuma's injury would affect his split-fingered fastball until Rob said something. A player's willingness to play through injury -- and often his team's willingness to trust that he's capable -- is something I didn't consider in a case like this. But it's a very real concern, and it could have a sizable impact here. Having said that, Seattle's staff is acutely aware of the strain that the pitch puts on Iwakuma's tendon, and they're at least giving the impression that they're erring on the side of caution, taking things very slowly, much like they're doing with Taijuan Walker. As long as Iwakuma has adequate time t o heal, he should be fine.

Perry Van Hook

Hamels and Pujols

Lord Zola's Wrap-up.

I'll take the easy one (for me) first. I'm in lockstep with Ryan with respect to Iwakuma and Hamels. That is, I am extremely worried about Hamels. This is an issue that was present at the end of last season and has not gone away. On a personal note I'm a bit bummed since I had Hamels pegged as guy I liked more than the market (if healthy) since last season's numbers would scare some people away. We didn't really hear any news until January, so before that my take was no news is good news, which was a mistake.

I am also concerned about Iwakuma and his finger but much like my brethren, trust the Seattle brass to take it slow and get him healed. As such, I'm more likely to take Iwakuma at his present injury discount than I am Hamels. But, since I started drafting last fall, I have a couple shares of Hamels already so I'll still be sweating that one out.

Comparing the two hitters, I am much more worried about Kemp primarily because due to the nature of the injuries, he's more susceptible to be hurt again than Pujols. Part of the reason is I feel Kemp is not going to want to eschew running, which could lead to further injury.

That said, I highly doubt I'll own either this season unless the discount is extreme. I understand the need to take some chances and perhaps this is a perfect place to do just that, but I'd rather throw my speculative darts elsewhere.

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About Todd Zola,

Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.

Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at and, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums. Fantasy Baseball

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