MLB Fantasy Brief: Replacements for Jered Weaver?
Sources: #Angels RHP Jered Weaver out 4 to 6 weeks with broken left (non-pitching) elbow.â€” Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) April 9, 2013
And with that, you may have just lost your front of the rotation pitcher for the next month. We had Jered Weaver as our No. 11 starter this season and worth a third round draft choice, for what it's worth. And right now, that's worth less than a Snickers bar.
If you're one of those lucky-as-Kevin-Ware Weaver owners, you're probably looking for your own Angel in the Bullpen who can help you survive the next month. So who are the top choices? We decided to break them down.
From the Angels
Joe Blanton may be the team's new No. 2 starter, but according to our projections, it's actually Tommy Hanson who you should have your eye on. Owned in 44.2 percent of ESPN leagues and climbing, Hanson established his role in the Angels rotation for good with a solid 6 IP, 3 ER, 4 K start against the division rival Rangers last week.
With Weaver gone, Hanson now sits as one of only two Angels starters (C.J. Wilson) who our projections say will prevent more runs than the league-average pitcher. Sure, 0.21 runs prevented per nine innings doesn't make him the next Justin Verlander. But with his strikeout rate of at least 20 percent of opponent's plate appearances in each of his four Atlanta seasons, he's going to add value in at least K's and wins (with that Angels run support) in 5x5 formats.
Weaver's likely replacement in the Angels rotation will be either Garrett Richards or Jerome Williams, but neither one is worth your time. Williams projects to have a high 4.21 ERA this season and only strike out 16.5 percent of opposing batters, while Richards does not have enough history to even make an accurate judgement.
Around the League
If it's Weaver's strikeouts that you're looking to replace, why not Houston fireballer Bud Norris? Owned in 8.6 percent of ESPN leagues but incredibly dropped in some after a 5.2 IP, 2 ER loss against the A's, Norris provides guaranteed stats, even if not wins with the Astros lineup behind him. Remember folks: losses mean nothing in most fantasy leagues, and wins is only one of five categories. His current K rate sits at 18.4 percent, but we expect a return to the mean of his career average 22.4 percent here soon. His next projected start against the Angels is ugly, but his projected following schedule of Oakland-Seattle-Boston is workable.
But it's the ERA you're looking for, right? Well, if you don't mind waiting a bit until his next start, check out how Ervin Santana pitched for the Royals against the Twins yesterday. Allowing only one run in eight innings, Santana moved to 1-1 on the year. And you're only sacrificing strikeouts here a tiny bit as well: his current 9.6 Ks/9 rate is unlikely to be sustained, but his lifetime 7.1 Ks/9 rate is serviceable. He's only owned in 4.9 percent of ESPN leagues, so you could afford to wait a bit if you'd like. His next three starts are projected to be Toronto-Boston-Cleveland.
It seems like everybody's trying to get on board with a trendy selection these days. But Andy Pettitte's bound to regress to the mean, Jose Fernandez may be good but we don't have enough data, and Barry Zito... really, you're going to trust him? But we do like the Indians' Justin Masterson a lot. He projects to finish with a solid K rate of 17.8 percent and walk only 8.3 percent of batters. His 150 projected Ks, by the way, are No. 63 among all starters we projected this season. But you'll have to hurry on him; he's now owned in 43.7 percent of ESPN leagues.