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Week Eight Fantasy Preview Featuring Replacements For Jose Fernandez

Phil Hughes

Injuries are part of baseball, and this week two pretty big name producers — Gio Gonzalez and Jose Abreu — hit the 15-day DL and a third, Joey Votto, might be headed to the injured list. They are all expected back in the minimum (although we are the most worried about Votto), and until you hear otherwise owners would be advised against doing anything too rash to replace them.

There was a fourth injury, however, that was pretty devastating. Jose Fernandez will miss at least the next year after undoing Tommy John surgery on Friday. This is a significant blow for Major League Baseball, as the Marlins right-hander is the most exciting young player in the game not named Mike Trout. To say nothing of the effect it will have on fantasy owners who drafted the 21-year old.

There’s really no replacing Fernandez, who had a 2.44 ERA, .94 WHIP and was leading the league with 70 Ks when he went down. But here are some suggestions, since you are going to have to try.

Phil Hughes: Remember him? He’s no longer a Yankee and now a Twin, which is probably for the best; Gotham’s tabloid culture just loves to brutalize big-time prospects who don’t quite pan out. In Hughes’s last four starts — including two against the Tigers — he’s 3-0 with 1.36 ERA and 20 strikeouts. He’s coming off of a terrible 2013 season, his last straw in the Bronx. But he’s still only 27 and has shown a couple if flashes of fantasy relevance during his eight-year career. He’s also available in over 75 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Drew Pomernaz: The classic post-hype sleeper, Pomernaz struggled in Colorado because, well, Colorado. Now he’s in Oakland, where you grandfather could be successful as long as he had a decent fastball. The As moved Pomernaz into the rotation early this month and in his first two starts (ten innings total) he went 2-0 with no earned runs and 13 Ks. The innings should go up; he’s been a starter for most of his career. Pomernaz pitches Tuesday against the Rays, and anyone who owned Fernandez should be monitoring that start, if not diving in with a speculative pick up today. Pomernaz is only owned in 43 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Trevor Bauer: Some of the glow has faded from Bauer, who was a consensus top ten pick on the prospect lists back in 2012. But the 23-year has been terrific this year in Triple-A, and gave up one run along with his eight strikouts during a six inning spot start for the Indians in April. He’s joining Cleveland‘s rotation again this week and his un-owned in 68 percent of Yahoo! Leagues.

Ubaldo Jimenez: Jimenez was great for the last five months of 2013, and far, far from great for the first month of 2014. He seemed to have turned things around in May, going 2-0 with a .46 ERA and 20 Ks in first three starts of the month. Then he put up a five runs in five innings clunker yesterday. The punchouts were still there — seven in 5 innings Sunday — so we still think his upside warrants him a shot. You can find him in 51 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

We Toot Our Own Horn With AJ Pollock
Last week we told everybody to pick up D-backs centerfielder AJ Pollock. This week he hit .500 with two home runs and a stolen base. We’re not sure if that makes the above recommendations more or less likely to pan out.
A.J. Pollock

Closer Carousal:
Houston Astros manager Bo Porter, who has the least fun job in MLB, finally officially declared a closer, making Chad Qualls the one-eyed man among the blind, the tallest midget, or whatever expression you’d like to use to make clear the Stro’s bullpen is an abomination.

Actually, Qualls has been quite good lately; no earned runs and ten Ks in his last ten appearances. So he’s more of a Tyrion Lannister at Blackwater Bay type of half-man. He’s also been extremely inconsistent over his career, and the Astros are going to generate fewer save opportunities than any other team in baseball. But if you need saves, he is definitely own-able for now.

Qualls’ biggest internal threat comes from Kyle Farnsworth, who just last week was the ninth inning man for the Mets. New York cut him rather than guarantee his salary for the year; a move that left Farnsworth furious and vowing revenge. The Astros picked him up almost immediately, and if Qualls falters Farnsworth would probably be the guy to step in.

The unusual roster maneuver also left the Mets without a closer. Terry Collins has indicated he will go with the dreaded closer-by-committee, with Jenrry Mejía, Jeurys Familia and Jose Valverde as the main ninth inning candidates.

Mejia got the call over the weekend and converted his first save. A starter for most the year, Mejia had been using his top notch stuff to dominate the fist couple innings but would fade the second time through the order. That’s a closer profile if there ever was one, and we expect him to grab the job going forward. Others, however, are high on Familia, and Valverde has 288 career saves and has pitched OK in 2014.

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