The Associated Press reports New York Yankees starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang (hamstring) will be placed on the 15-day disabled list before Opening Day with a right hamstring pull. Wang could miss up to one month of action.
After finishing as the Cy Young Award runner-up last year, the Yankees had penciled in Wang as their Opening Day starter. However, manager Joe Torre had to get out the eraser and take down Wang's name. According to Bryan Hoch, of Yankees.MLB.com, Wang suffered a Grade 1 strain of his right hamstring during some light running drills Friday, March 23. The team shut him down for the rest of the day and then later determined the severity of the injury was enough to place him on the DL.
Not a household name like some other Yankees pitchers, Wang was nevertheless the team's top pitcher last season. One of the top groundball pitchers in the league, Wang finished the 2006 season with a 19-6 record and a 3.63 ERA in 34 games. One drawback to Wang, however, was that in 218 innings last season, he only had 76 strikeouts. For his career, he has just 123 strikeouts in 334 1/3 innings. So far this spring, Wang had gone 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA in four starts. While his injury likely won't damage the Yankees' hopes for the season because of good depth and a strong offense, it is likely that fantasy leaguers will have to replace him for at least three starts. Starting pitcher Jeffrey Karstens will probably take his spot in the rotation, although pitcher Darrell Rasner is a candidate as well. Regardless, there are better options out there.
In some fantasy drafts, pitchers like Texas Rangers
starter Kevin Millwood and Colorado
Rockies starting pitcher Jeff Francis are
overlooked. Both could be serviceable options while Wang sits. Millwood went
16-12 with a 4.57 ERA last year in his first season with the Rangers. Francis,
who is growing into the role of ace of the Rockies, went 13-11 with a 4.16 ERA
in 2006. Millwood and Francis represent safer alternatives that might still
be available following a draft.
Two players who have not been getting much attention in fantasy drafts this spring are Baltimore Orioles starting pitchers Daniel Cabrera and Adam Loewen. Both have great stuff and could develop into staff aces someday. Cabrera has yet to put it all together, posting a 9-10 record with a 4.74 ERA last season. He also has 157 strikeouts, so you could actually benefit from having him in your rotation in some respects. For evidence of his stuff, one just has to look at his finish to last season, when he held the Yankees to only one run on one hit and two walks over nine innings. If he can establish himself this season, he could be worth keeping even after Wang returns.
Three years younger than Cabrera, the Canadian-born Loewen is one of the Orioles' top pitching prospects, but like Cabrera he has yet to put it together for a season. In fact, last year was his first in the majors, and he went 6-6 with a 5.37 ERA and 98 strikeouts. Like Cabrera, fantasy owners would be gaining something in the strikeouts category. Loewen is probably a riskier pickup than Cabrera, but because of their potential, both could be solid short-term additions to your roster.
Fantasy owners could stay with the Yankees and look at the much-maligned starting pitcher Carl Pavano. After missing nearly two years because of injuries, Pavano finally appears ready to come back. He has more experience than the options listed above. His best season came in 2004, his last complete season, when he went 18-8 with a 3.00 ERA with the Florida Marlins. This is a make-or-break year for Pavano, as he needs to show he is healthy and can pitch well in order to mend some fences in the Yankees dressing room. He has already been called to task this spring by fellow starting pitcher Mike Mussina. While he could be an injury risk, Pavano has the potential to be a solid No. 3 fantasy starter.
About Bryce McRae
Bryce McRae is a Managing Editor with KFFL and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1999. He joined KFFL as a volunteer writer in March 2005 before becoming a Hot off the Wire Analyst in March 2006. He began working in his current capacity in September 2008. His work has appeared on fantasy sports sites such as Yahoo! and CBS Sportsline as well as in print. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2008 with a B.A. in History and U.S. Studies.
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