Because he did not pitch this season due to elbow and mental issues, Justin Duchscherer will be passed over by many major league clubs as he enters free agency for the first time this offseason. Even though MLB teams may not want him, your fantasy team will.
In 2008, Duchscherer posted a 2.54 ERA and 1.00 WHIP with 10 wins in 22 starts before hip issues sidelined him for the last month of the year. While his ERA and WHIP were fantasy gold, it didn’t look to be sustainable. David Golebiewski tackled this after the 2008 season, noting that a 3.69 FIP and .240 BABIP indicate an almost certain rise in his ERA and WHIP. Because he doesn’t strike out too many batters (6.04 K/9 in ’08), his ERA and WHIP encompass most of his value outside of wins.
Fantasy owners should be praying “The Duke” leaves Oakland. If he stays, his wins will likely suffer, stealing away a good chunk of his fantasy value. The A’s have expressed interest in meeting with Duchscherer and bringing him back next year, but Duchscherer needs to decide if that is the best option for him and his family. That is typically the case, but the issue is magnified because he suffers from clinical depression.
If he decides he wants to stay in the Bay Area, the Giants have made public their desire for another starter, and Duchscherer could fit in well there. There haven’t been many rumors surrounding Duchscherer, because teams don’t want to target him if his mind isn’t in the right place. If he is determined to be healthy, there will be many more teams interested, such as the Yankees and Red Sox, who can gamble more than other organizations can.
Because he doesn’t overpower hitters (~86 MPH fastball), the elbow shouldn’t be a problem. If his mental health is right, he should be too. Keep your hopes up that he will leave Oakland, but plan on him staying in the bay area. Whatever team he joins will be better off, and it could mean a couple of more save opportunities for the closer. A’s players should pray it’s with them, because they could use a chance to win more games next year.