Cliff Lee felt no pain while throwing a 51-pitch simulated game on Friday, and the plan is for him to throw another simulated game this week before heading out on a minor league rehab assignment. The goal is to have the Mariners’ co-ace back on a big league mound by May 1st or 2nd.
Brandon Webb, however, isn’t so lucky. The Diamondbacks transferred him to the 60-day DL over the weekend, meaning the earliest he could possibly come back is May 25th. Whether or not he’ll be ready to pitch on that date is another story all together.
Here’s a few notes on some other starting rotation situations from around the league…
Kris Benson: Going from even a less effective version of Webb to Benson is a significant hit, and that’s essentially what the D-Backs have done. Don’t be fooled by Benson’s six inning, two run outing against the Padres in Petco over the weekend, he has negative fantasy value. Once he faces a better lineup in a more hitter friendly park, the blush will be off the rose.
Scott Kazmir: The greatest pitcher in Tampa Bay franchise history returned to the mound last week, putting 11 men on base and allowing six runs to score against the so good it’s scary Yankee offense. He’s unlikely to turn back into the 3.40-ish FIP, 10+ K/9 fantasy stud he was from 2006-2007, but Kazmir definitely remains a fantasy asset. He misses enough bats to produce good strikeout numbers, and if he stays healthy he’s probably looking at ten or so starts against the A’s and Mariners, hardly offensive powerhouses. With normal regression of last year’s 67.5% strand rate, his ERA should drop to the low-to-mid fours. He’s still available in 39% of Yahoo! leagues.
Daisuke Matsuzaka: Dice-K’s rehab stint has gone well so far, as he’s allowed just six baserunners (five hits, one walk) in 11 innings. The strikeouts are down (just five), but right now we don’t have any reason to suspect he’ll drop off from his established 8.53 K/9 rate in the bigs. The important thing is that he appears to be healthy. He still has another minor league start to go, but the Red Sox haven’t announced their plans for the rotation yet. The prevailing thought is that they’ll use a six-man rotation for at least one turn before giving Clay Buchholz or (more likely) Tim Wakefield the boot to the bullpen.
Daniel McCutchen: The Pirates put Ross Ohlendorf on the disabled list over the weekend with back spasms, and replaced him in the rotation with McCutchen, who was on their Opening Day roster. He’s been dreadful in two starts (12 runs, 16 baserunners, just three strikeouts in 7.1 IP), but he has a dynamite minor league track record so a return to some semblance of normalcy is expected. There’s no need to run out and grab him now, but keep an eye on his progression. There’s a chance for a low-four ERA with decent WHIP and strikeout numbers here.