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Erik Bedard is Back

You can definitely call it a comeback. After three extremely injury-riddled seasons, Erik Bedard finally stayed relatively healthy in 2011. While he only threw 129.1 innings, Bedard managed to start 24 games — his highest total since 2007. In those starts, Bedard flashed signs of the pitcher that posted back-to-back 5 win seasons from 2006-2007. Even though Bedard eventually fell to the injury bug again, he proved that he’s still a solid fantasy option when healthy. After a relatively healthy season — for him — is Bedard a strong pick in the late rounds again, or should you let another owner deal with the headache?

Bedard will get hurt. Even if you feel confident about his skill set, be aware that Bedard has only been healthy in his career for two seasons. Those seasons — 2006 and 2007 — happen to be his most successful in the majors. Outside of those two seasons, Bedard has missed significant time over his career. While its easy to be tempted by his potential, Bedard hasn’t lived up to that billing since 2007.

Still, Bedard managed to provide significant value to fantasy owners who were willing to take the chance on the oft-injured lefty last season. Over his 129.1 innings pitched, Bedard returned to form — posting stats that rival his career averages. All told, it looks as if Bedard’s stuff is still intact despite numerous injuries.

Though Bedard managed to pitch more innings than expected last season, that doesn’t necessarily mean owners should draft him higher this season. Bedard is still a major injury risk, and owners shouldn’t be tempted by his surprising re-emergence last season. That fact that we’re praising Bedard for tossing just 129.1 innings last season should give owners a good sense of just how injury prone he’s been over his career.

If Bedard happens to be milling around in the later rounds of a draft, he might be worth a speculative pick. Should Bedard prove to be healthy at the start of the season, he could provide a nice return for your fantasy team early in the season. With Bedard, though, there’s always that fear that injury can strike at any time. Most owners are well aware of his history, but if you can trade Bedard after a strong start, that’s the optimal outcome.

Since Bedard did not pitch at the end of last season, it’s tough to know whether he will be fully healthy for Spring Training at this time. The injury did not appear to be serious, however, so Bedard should be able to start the season at full health. If — for any reason — Bedard begins the season on the disabled list, he might not be worth a draft slot. With his injury history, you don’t want to draft him if he’s already hurt.

Even though he had his best season since 2007, Bedard should not be drafted any higher than normal next year. His upside may be tempting, but his injury history makes him a huge gamble. Bedard still is the epitome of high-risk, high-reward. If you happen to take a chance on Bedard, be ready to trade him at the first sign of value. He doesn’t last very long.