The early season disabled list can usually form the makings of an excellent Rotisserie team. Every season players get hurt, and the DL always looms as potential disaster to a winning season. When you are forced to deal with injuries, what steps can you take to minimize the loss, and in the right situations, to actually improve your team?
First of all, when someone gets DL'ed, look at the type of injury, because a 15 day DL stint does not necessarily mean 15 days until he's re-activated. Back injuries, particularly disc problems, can be chronic and cause repeated trips to the DL. Even minor shoulder injuries to the rotator cuff or the labrum can sideline a pitcher for two months or more. And a bone chip in the pitching elbow can end a season prematurely should it get lodged in the joint. In the knee, damage to the ACL is often season ending.
Simple cartilage damage in most joints, however, can be cleaned up with arthroscopic surgery, allowing a player to return in a few weeks. Muscle injuries are not normally season threatening, but they do need to be treated with rest and better conditioning and stretching routines if the player wants to avoid a return trip.
Once you have an idea how long your player might be down, look at the category standings and project your potential losses by category. If no one is likely to catch you in a particular category while your man is down, check where you might catch someone in another area, and go for a few weeks of stats in that category.
If you're sure the injury is minor, consider waiting. You might find that your player is coming back soon enough, that you won't be getting empty ABs or high ERA innings, or that one of the other GMs has had to release a better choice. One warning, however - should you miss your deadline for activating a replacement (usually two weeks), and the injury is more serious than originally thought, an empty roster spot for three months is worse than a .255 BA and an RBI a week.
If you've lost a position player, shuffle your eligibilities to find out which positions are available to you. This reveals the value of the multi-position player. If you're able to choose from a list including outfielders, corner and middle men, your opportunities for finding help are definitely better.
To unearth value in a replacement, you'll need to consider which statistical indicators best support your category stats. In a position player, a batting eye ratio (BB/K) over 1.00 will give you the best opportunity to maintain overall team BA, more than looking at individual past or present batting averages. But check his role and usage - six ABs a week won't help much.
Know where your replacement bats in the order, whether his team relies on speed or power, and even whether the team is struggling to meet expectations. Opportunities for young guys to move into the lineup exist much more often on those teams.
With pitching, ERA and WHIP are easier to maintain than wins or saves. If you can afford the wins your DL starter won't get for a month, a middle guy with good control and strikeout-to-walk ratios can almost always be found. 10 to 15 innings of low WHIP can make up for a couple of quality starts.
If the potential loss of wins, however, will drop you too far in that category, or drop you below minimum innings requirements, you'll need to ignore everything except whether the fifth starter you grab pitches for either a strong defense or a powerful offense.
If your primary closer's arm drops off, very few primary setup guys, the ones who get the monthly save, are ever available. In that case, look for the teams whose bullpens are in flux, and activate whatever middle reliever is getting opportunities to finish games (GF). Situational lefties are often good pickups here.
Trading a player who's hurt is tricky. In the MLB, it's improper to trade an injured player without informing the other team of the injury. In many Rotisserie leagues, the commissioner has the right to overturn such trades where injury information is not given. In other, more cut-throat leagues, each GM should regularly check the wire to keep from accepting damaged goods in a trade.
Trading for a player who's hurt, however, can be a bold move. If the owner of a hobbling player is worried that his injury could be long-term, you should consider taking this player off the GM's hands for someone healthier, but with less upside potential.
The draft can set you up for a pennant run, but a season without several players on the DL is rare. How you handle the inevitable injuries can mean the difference between first place and fourth, or worse.
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