The New York Yankees announced that top starter James Paxton will be out at least 3-4 months after undergoing a microscopic lumbar discectomy to remove a peridiscal cyst. It’s absolutely brutal news for the 31-year old lefty, who has battled injuries throughout his career as Jay Jaffe outlined in his piece about the injury. It does look like the timeline is for his return to the field so late-May/early-June is the target, but I’d plan for mid-to-late June just to be safe.
In leagues with IL spots, I have no real issue stashing him, even if it were for the full three months of the regular season. His price will plummet, and you need to decide where you’re comfortable grabbing him as a stash. There was only one NFBC draft last night after the news and he went 224th, which put him around the likes of Ian Kennedy, Giovanny Gallegos, and Griffin Canning as far as pitchers. Now it’s worth noting that the NFBC doesn’t have IL spots so anyone drafting him must eat one of their seven reserve spots.
After a historical year of injuries in 2019, the Yankees are already dealing with their first major blow of 2020. They have a ready-made replacement in the form of Jordan Montgomery, someone I really like. I’m not sure the spot is guaranteed to go his way, but he’ll battle the likes of Jonathan Loaisiga, Luis Cessa, Nick Tropeano, and top pitching prospect Deivi Garcia. Montgomery has thrown just 31 MLB innings over the last two seasons, dealing with injuries of his own including a Tommy John surgery, but he had an impressive rookie season back in 2017: 3.88 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 22% K, 8% BB, and 12% SwStr over 155.3 innings.
The 27-year old lefty has a capable three-pitch mix with a fastball, curveball, and changeup, while also mixing in a slider here and there. His ADP prior to the injury was 459th for the 50-round Draft & Holds and it will definitely soar from there, though I think he’ll remain affordable. In the one draft where Paxton went 224th, Montgomery was selected 345th (that was a 12-team Online Championship), right around Reynaldo Lopez, Jose Quintana, and teammate J.A. Happ. Montgomery could range as high as the 300 range as still be worth it to me. The pitchers around there are Forrest Whitley, Michael Pineda, and Ross Stripling, which leads me into my next topic…
Stripling will be joining the Angels as part of the Joc Pederson trade we learned about on Tuesday night and I’m remarkably excited about it! The 30-year old swingman has put up 387 innings of a 3.51 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 18% K-BB over the last four years with 52 starts in his 136 appearances. He was once again looking at a swing role, but joining the Angels gives him a great shot at finally getting a full season of starts. An Angels team that had just one guy throw more than 100 innings last year (Trevor Cahill, 102.3) now has a measure of starting depth.
They missed out on Gerrit Cole and immediately shifted that top of the scale money to Anthony Rendon and while many believed they’d then go hard for Hyun-Jin Ryu, they’ve decided to attack their rotation in bulk. Shohei Ohtani is the great unknown, but he’s ace-caliber when on the mound. Beyond that they have imported workhorses Julio Teheran and Dylan Bundy to go with Andrew Heaney, Griffin Canning, Patrick Sandoval, Jaime Barria, and Jose Suarez. And now Stripling joins the mix. Assuming Ohtani isn’t ready for Opening Day, they’re looking at an April five of Teheran-Heaney-Stripling-Bundy-Canning.
That’s pretty capable. They’re getting 5-6 solid innings most nights with that quintet.
I had Stripling 46th in my most recent rankings, but that was before the Alex Wood signing and I was thinking/hoping that Strip would have the 5th starter’s role for the Dodgers, at least to start the season. I’m regularly the high man on Stripling and just because I had him ranked that high doesn’t mean I was drafting him in that range. He was going at pick 311 on average prior to the deal, making him the 120th pitcher off the board (RPs included). In that one Wednesday draft, he was up to 266th overall and the 115th pitcher, a price I’m very much willing to pay.
Stripling has proven himself more than worthy as a starter with a 3.71 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 19% K-BB in 257 IP compared to 3.12 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 17% K-BB in relief. While he has dealt with some injuries has a high of just 122 MLB innings in a season (2018), I think the 30-year old righty could definitely hold up for at least 150 innings and the aforementioned depth of starters could allow the Angels to give him a few extended breaks (skip a turn here and there) to make that 150 last all season.
Even with an explosion of hype, I’d be surprised if Stripling pushed into the Top 100 pitchers (again, RPs included). Teammates Bundy and Canning are at 100 and 101, respectively, and both have a higher profile in the market. Wellllll, maybe not Bundy. He’s burned many folks in the past so there will be a contingent of every league that is fully out on him. Stripling is finally freed and I couldn’t be happier!