Need a silver lining during this hibernation of sports? Something to offer a glimmer of positivity to lighten the dread and boredom to come?
It might be trivial in the grand scheme of things, but the delay of the start of the baseball season means some injured players have more time to recover, and thus don’t warrant the same downgrade in drafts previously attached to them. You can find a few bargains while you’re drafting your teams during this unwanted and scary hiatus.
The Indians’ Mike Clevinger is recovering from February surgery on his left knee. He was unlikely to be ready for Opening Day, and was slated to return in mid-April. If the season starts April 9 (exactly two weeks from the original start date), he wouldn’t miss a lot of, if any, time.
Is it risky to take him after having played no spring training games, coming off surgery and coming off a season in which he made just 21 starts? Sure, but the 29-year-old is 38-18 with a 2.96 ERA and 10.3 strikeouts per nine in 80 appearances (74 starts) since 2017. There is just too much talent in that right arm, and he’s easily a top-10 fantasy starter when fully healthy.
You can even get Clevinger for a slight discount right now, with his average draft position falling from 27.07 in February to 40.51 as of Friday, according to Fantasy Alarm.
Injury-prone Yankees lefty James Paxton is looking at a mid-May return from back surgery, and his ADP has fallen 50 spots (107 to 157) since last month. That is solid value for a hurler who is 38-17 with a 3.54 ERA (with a 3.26 FIP) and 11.1 strikeouts per nine in 81 starts over the past three seasons. If the season were to start in mid-April, you could be looking at a shorter time with him taking up space on your bench or IR spot.
Joc Pederson was day-to-day with right hip/side issues before the coronavirus outbreak, so he should be healthy. The 27-year-old, who is eligible at first base and in the outfield, reached career highs in homers (36), RBIs (74), hits (112), runs (83), slugging percentage (.538) and OPS (.876) in 2019. Not only has he hit 25 or more home runs in four of the past five years, but his ADP has dropped from 197.86 to 226.87.
A few red flags among ailing players: The Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton, largely because he played just 18 games last season and is already dealing with a Grade 1 right calf strain, and Boston’s Chris Sale, whose elbow issues have forced his ADP to drop from 36.86 last month to still not cheap enough 68.13.
Other names who should have enough time to recover and provide plenty of value include the Mets’ Michael Conforto (strained right oblique), Houston’s Justin Verlander (right triceps soreness), St. Louis’ Miles Mikolas (flexor tendon soreness), Washington’s Max Scherzer (muscle fatigue), Seattle’s Mitch Haniger (hernia/back), Cincinnati’s Eugenio Suarez (right shoulder), the Yankees’ Aaron Judge (ribs) and Baltimore’s Trey Mancini, who underwent surgery on Thursday to remove a malignant tumor from his colon.