The Walking Wounded: Forgotten Fantasy Baseball Players on the DL

Fantasy baseball is often a game of the “here and now”. Owners frequently concern themselves so much with notions like “what have you done for me lately?” that they can sometimes forget about those baseball players that are lurking in the shadows.

Every baseball season, there are a number of players that use a meaningful amount of time injured on the disabled list and 2011 is certainly no exception. With the character of fantasy baseball being what it is, these players are often ‘forgotten men’. However, taking a closer look at some of these injured players may discarded some light as to when they may return to action and possibly give your fantasy baseball team the edge over your competition, whether for a victory this year or looking ahead to next season.

Johan Santana (NYM)

After undergoing surgery to repair the anterior capsule in his throwing shoulder, Santana has missed the complete 2011 season so far. However, he is now fully recovered and on a rehab stint in high class A St. Lucie. In his first start, he hit 89 MPH on the gun causing his rehab pitching coordinator to state that Santana could pitch at the major league level in addition this year, however, the goal for now is to build up arm strength. Both Santana and the Mets would like to see him pitch for the big league club this season but all parties are being careful. Keep an eye on a possible September return to give your fantasy team a raise down the stretch.

Brandon Webb (TEX)

Arguably the best pitcher in the major leagues from 2006 by 2008, Webb has not thrown a pitch in the majors since opening day 2009. Often baffling training staff and doctors alike, Webb’s injury simply was not progressing as expected. At every junction, he experienced setbacks. Over 2 years after the original injury, Webb will now undergo arthroscopic surgery on his rotator cuff August 1st. If you have been stashing him or hoping he might return to help out your team, you can start looking in other places. Webb hopes to return to the majors one day but it won’t be in the foreseeable future.

Kendrys Morales (LAA)

The ‘S’ Morales additional to the end of his first name this season does not stand for ‘strong’. After a fluke injury celebrating a home run last season, Angels manager Mike Scioscia rotated 9 players by the position in 2010. This season, Morales was expected to be ready to go for the season and return to his usual offensive production at first base for the Halos. After electing to undergo a second ankle surgery (which ended his 2011 season) on May 26 of this year, Morales has been replaced by Mark Trumbo with nice results. This doesn’t necessarily average that Morales’ career in LA is in jeopardy but Trumbo looks like the cleanup hitter of the future. Morales’ contract is up at season’s end but he starts the first of his arbitration-eligible years. Wait and see what his position is instead of stashing him as a keeper for now.

Adam Wainwright (STL)

Entering this year, it could be argued that only Roy Halladay was a better option at starting pitcher than Wainwright from a fantasy perspective. However, a spring elbow injury required Tommy John surgery and changed his position for the 2011 season. Wainwright has returned to throwing and is already hopeful to return in addition in 2011 should the Cardinals reach the post-season. Although there are several recent examples of pitchers returning successfully from this procedure (see Josh Johnson, Tim Hudson, Billy Wagner and others), experience dictates that the usual recovery period is 1 year. Often at that point, velocity is the first thing to return to the pitcher but control takes time. That being said, Wainwright may very well be worth adding to your team as a keeper for next season.

Stephen Strasburg (WAS)

Strasburg burst onto the scene last season for the Nationals and wowed just about everyone, especially fantasy owners. Then, he suffered an elbow injury requiring Tommy John surgery. As with Wainwright, Strasburg is hoping to return this season and it just may be a reality. September 3rd will mark the 1 year anniversary of his surgery and he has hit 95 MPH recently on the gun. It will take a minor league rehab stint to get him ready, but the phenom could return to the nation’s capital this season. Keeping in mind that a pitcher’s control is slower to return than velocity, Strasburg is nevertheless worth adding to your fantasy list for a identify as a keeper for next season in spite of of 2011 position.

Josh Johnson (FLA)

As frustrating as they come, Johnson may be the most talented pitcher in the game when healthy. Unfortunately for both the Marlins and his fantasy owners, Johnson just can’t stay on the mound. After missing time down the stretch in 2010 with back and shoulder issues, a further shoulder problem has shut him down for 2011. Although there is no apparent structural damage requiring surgery, Johnson is simply not worth the list identify as a keeper for 2012. Leave him for another owner.

There are some players on the DL which offer an option for 2011, others that make for good 2012 keepers and some nevertheless that should be avoided. Knowing these players may just help set you up for fantasy baseball victory for this year and beyond.

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