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Francisco Liriano & Matt Garza: Waiver Wire

Picking up injured players can be a risky proposition in fantasy. But depending on your league, taking a shot on an injured guy may be the only way to grab upside without having to pay a significant price. While picking up prospects is sometimes the more enticing strategy, there’s no way of knowing when that player will get their opportunity. Narrowing your search to injured veterans is risky, but at least you’re picking up players who are close to getting guaranteed playing time. Both Francisco Liriano and Matt Garza are close to making their 2013 debuts, and should be targeted by owners who need pitching, and don’t mind taking a few risks.

SP Francisco Liriano 30% owned in CBSSports.com leagues

Liriano is the type of player you never feel good about picking up. He’s the type of player who has likely disappointed every member of your league over his career. But since he flashed such promise early in his career, there’s always a poor sucker who will be tempted after a strong start (Do we have names for these types of players yet? The best I could come up with is Shymalans). In this case, you get to be the sucker. There’s a very high chance Liriano will continue to be one of the most frustrating pitchers around. At the same time, he probably offers more upside than guys like Scott Feldman or Wade Davis. At the very least, you know he’ll get you strikeouts.

Liriano is slated to return Saturday against the Mets. While it’s too risky to start him right away, it’s worth it to hold hi for a few starts to see how he performs. If he becomes an Edinson Volquez-type, and is a spot starter in good match-ups, you’ll be glad to take a solid strikeout numbers when you can get them. Take a wait-and-see approach with Liriano. I can’t stress this enough.

SP Matt Garza 69% owned in CBSSports.com leagues

Garza offers considerably more upside than Liriano, but still needs two more rehab starts before he’s ready to return. His ownership rates have already been climbing, and now might be the time to pounce. Garza has turned into a better strikeout pitcher with the Cubs, and he’s done a good job keeping the ball on the ground. He was hurt by home runs last season, but had a 16.3 HR/FB rate, which should regress. Garza hasn’t pitched since last June, so it’s been a while since he’s pitched in the majors. While he missed time with a fractured elbow last year, that’s not the type of injury we expect to impact performance. You might want to pay extra attention to his velocity to start the year, but that’s based more on his long layoff, and not necessarily on the injury.

If Garza proves to be effective, he could find himself involved in a midseason trade. While it’s foolish to chase wins in fantasy leagues, one would think any trade would put him in a better situation. It wouldn’t hurt to get out of Wrigley either, as the park can be prone to offense when the wind is blowing out. Garza will have an immediate impact on fantasy teams once he returns, so if he’s still out there in your league, he’s worth a pickup.