When it rains, it pours, and it did on Monday when it came to injuries for pitchers. The first news came down that José Leclerc was experiencing “elbow discomfort” and returned to Texas.
Then an hour or so later, news came out that Kirby Yates had a flexor-pronator strain and will be out “multiple weeks.”
Shortly after the Yates news, there was more bad news, this time regarding Zac Gallen. The Diamondbacks ace was scratched from Monday’s start with a right forearm issue. To make matters worse was the way he injured his forearm.
Three significant injuries with some major fantasy ramifications within hours of each other. Let’s look at each injury and who gains fantasy value based on these pitchers’ lousy fortune.
Closing in Arlington
José Leclerc was on my no draft list all draft season, but that was due to his performance, not injury. Now injury has put Leclerc on everyone’s no draft list, creating one less reliever for me to draft. With Leclerc hitting the IL for what appears to be some time, it is time to see where to turn in the Rangers’ bullpen.
The easy pitcher to target would be Joely Rodriguez, but he’s dealing with an ankle injury. Rodriguez was outstanding in 2020 with a 32.7% K% to go with a 2.13 ERA and 1.69 FIP. I targeted Rodriguez in best-ball and draft and holds all draft season, so hopefully, that pans out eventually. If you are in a very deep league, check the news and possibly take a chance on Joely if you can stash him later in the season.
For now, the main two targets for the Rangers are Ian Kennedy and Matt Bush. Woof, what a duo. Kennedy was a dominant closer for the Royals in 2019, saving 30 games with a 27.4% K%. 2020 was not as kind to Kennedy, but the experience is there, and some managers flock to that experience. The other option with Bush is quite interesting. The 35-year-old Bush spent 2019 in AA for the Rangers and 2020 at the alt site. He primarily throws a high 90’s fastball with an occasional curveball and cutter. He could be interesting as a closer, but consistency has not been Bush’s favorite trait. When it comes to these two, I look at Kennedy’s experience and have stashed Kennedy in a few drafts already. He’d be my closer of choice for now, but both could be in play to start the season.
Everybody Loves Romano
Yates was one of MLB’s best closers in 2019, but in 2020 he only made six appearances before missing the rest of the season for elbow inflammation and bone chips. The elbow concerns the Jays signed Yates to a nice contract this offseason and penciled him into close. Sadly, Yates will not make it to the season’s start due to the right flexor pronator strain. An injury that has seen anywhere from a month to an entire season missed.
With Yates going to the IL, insert Jordan Romano. Romano was a heavy target of mine and others during the draft season before the Jays signed Yates. Last season Romano was dominant with a 36.8% K% and a 1.23 ERA. He has also had a strong spring with five innings pitched and 12 strikeouts. The Jays are hesitant to name a closer right now, but for me, it is Romano. He even went in the 7th round of the Monday night NFBC Main Event draft. That may be a bit steep, but it proves that Romano is excellent and could be an excellent closer for the Jays. If, for some reason, it is not Romano, then take a peek at Rafael Dolis.
WE WANT THE UNIVERSAL DH
The final piece of the tragic pitching news on Monday was Zac Gallen missing a start due to right forearm soreness. What makes matters worse is the fact Gallen sustained the injury taking batting practice. You know, doing something most pitchers rarely do and probably have not done since 2019. Gallen was lined up to be the ace of the DBacks staff and had a main event ADP of 52, but that is primarily due to a pick of 116 in the Monday night main event draft. I would be very hesitant to take a chance on Gallen until more news comes out. Pitchers get injured pretty often, so drafting one already injured is a no-no for me.
When it comes to a fantasy replacement, there is not one. Just let Gallen slide down the draft board and take different pitchers in his former ADP range. When it comes to real-life, I could see Alex Young or Corbin Marting joining the rotation. Both are just streaming options, but Young does intrigue me some as he showed flashes of fantasy value in 2019. For now, just wait and hope for better news regarding Gallen and pass on him in drafts till you hear some good news.