It's Time to Cut the Big Unit, but for Whom?

by Bryce McRae on July 27, 2007 @ 16:00:00 PDT


Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Randy Johnson (back) has not had the kind of homecoming he would have expected when he was traded back to Arizona, the site of arguably the greatest moments of his career, in the offseason.

Johnson finally decided to call it quits on this season and will undergo season-ending back surgery Friday, Aug. 3, according to's Steve Gilbert. Johnson had been trying to come back from his third stint on the disabled list. The surgery will be to repair a herniated disc that was related to surgery he underwent last October. After that surgery, he was told there would be a 5 percent chance the disc in his back could be herniated. The surgery will take place soon, so the team is expecting Johnson to be back at full strength sooner rather than later. He had gone 4-3 with a 3.81 ERA in 10 starts this year.

He has been on the disabled list since July 3, so you will likely have already found a replacement for him; however, if you have not, there are still some solid options out there.

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Andrew Miller is one pitcher to consider. He was hit hard for five runs on 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings in his last start. However, on the season he has compiled a 5-3 record with a 3.78 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP. The 2006 first-round draft pick throws a mid- to upper-90s fastball along with a solid slider and changeup. In July he has thrown 21 2/3 innings pitch, posting a 3.74 ERA, a 1.75 WHIP and 24 strikeouts. He should only improve as he becomes more accustomed to the big leagues. He is available in about 92 percent of leagues polled.

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Dustin McGowan is another pitcher to take a look at with Johnson out. After an up-and-down start to his career, McGowan seems to have finally solidified his spot in the team's rotation. He has a 7-5 record with a 4.45 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP on the season. In July he has gone 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP and 16 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings. The Blue Jays have been streaking lately, and it is largely due to their starting pitching, of which McGowan is a big part. He is available in roughly 99 percent of leagues polled.

You could also consider Johnson's replacement in the rotation, starting pitcher Yusmeiro Petit. Petit has a 2-2 record with a 2.54 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP and 23 strikeouts this season. In two post All-Star break starts, Petit has posted a 1-1 record with a 1.64 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP and seven strikeouts in 11 innings. He is available in around 98 percent of leagues polled.

The speculation is that New York Yankees starting pitcher Philip Hughes (hamstring) will come off the disabled list sometime soon since the club demoted starter Kei Igawa. Fantasy owners looking for a player with a lot of upside may want to grab him now. He is 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA, a 1.03 WHIP and 11 strikeouts in two starts. Hughes is available in approximately 80 percent of leagues polled.

With Johnson already on the disabled list, it is likely you already have a replacement for him. However, if you do not, consider the pitchers listed above, and even if you do, waiver wire replacements are not permanent. Johnson was also likely not a key part of your fantasy team at this point, meaning this isn't something that will necessarily derail your championship hopes. Keep an eye on KFFL for any updates on Johnson's condition.

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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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