Mychael Urban, of Athletics.MLB.com, reports Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Rich Harden (shoulder) has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right shoulder. This move is retroactive to July 8. Harden met with Dr. Lewis Yocum Monday, July 9, who reported no further structural damage to Harden's shoulder but recommended he take an additional two weeks of rest before another attempt at rehab.
Harden, who was on the disabled list from April 23 to June 21, made three relief appearances before returning to the starting rotation July 7. He had pitched four scoreless innings in his relief appearances and was rocked for four runs in 2 2/3 innings July 7 against the Seattle Mariners. After the game, he reported pain and tightness in his right shoulder, which was a repeat of the injury that has held him out most of the season.
Harden, when healthy, is one of the top pitchers in baseball. Unfortunately for Harden, his injury history over the last three seasons has hindered him from reaching his potential. Harden has made six trips to the disabled list in the last three seasons - two this season, two last season and two in 2005. Since the beginning of the 2005 season, Harden has made only 32 starts (38 appearances total). Harden is 15-7 with a 2.92 ERA in that span. Harden, who before this injury was already tagged by fantasy owners as an injury-prone player, will likely be impossible to trade for decent value comparable to his potential.
To replace Harden on the roster, the Athletics are expected to recall pitcher Andrew Brown from Triple-A Sacramento. Brown was acquired from the San Diego Padres June 29 for outfielder Milton Bradley, and sent to Sacramento. In his short time there, Brown has saved four games in five opportunities and has compiled a 3.60 ERA. Brown made his major league debut last season with the Cleveland Indians, where he compiled a 3.60 ERA in nine relief appearances. Because of Brown's experience in a relief role, it is expected that Oakland will keep their current starting rotation, and Brown will fill in for Harden in the bullpen. Unless Brown is placed in save situations by manager Bob Geren, Brown is not worth fantasy consideration at this time.
There are most likely no starting pitchers on any league's waiver wire that can replicate Harden's stats, but there are a few durable starters available for the long haul. Houston Astros starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez has been inconsistent this season but boasts respectable stats with a 3.87 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, six wins, 90 strikeouts and 104 2/3 innings pitched. Rodriguez is available in about 97 percent of fantasy leagues polled.
Chicago Cubs starter Jason Marquis has stats comparable to Rodriguez's, with 105 1/3 innings pitched, six wins, a 3.67 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. Marquis is available in roughly 79 percent of fantasy leagues polled.
Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Jarrod Washburn, who is available in roughly 97 percent of fantasy leagues, has pitched 106 1/3 innings and has eight wins, a 3.72 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP. None of these pitchers will likely light the world afire but should provide quality starts and may pick up a few wins in Harden's absence. Also, all of these pitchers have been healthy throughout the season.
About Andrew Stewart
Andrew Stewart has been a Hot off the Wire Analyst for KFFL since 2007.
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