Saturday, April 19, 2008

Gambling with (Former) Aces

Both Chris Carpenter and Mark Prior have been on the shelf this season. Carpenter hasn't pitched since undergoing Tommy John surgery in July. Prior hasn't pitched since undergoing shoulder surgery back in March of 2007. Are either worth a roster spot? The answer depends on a variety of factors, some of which include league size/depth, roster size, DL spot flexibility, etc.

Carpenter threw a bullpen session yesterday and is ready to face hitters. The Cardinals are hoping for him to make his season debut around the all-star break, but he likely won't pitch before late July. That would put him at the 12 month mark following the TJ surgery, which is the low-end for pitchers returning to the mound. As seen with Liriano this year, a pitcher returning from TJ surgery is likely to struggle with his command at the outset. Given that Carpenter is likely to only make about 10 to 12 starts, he probably will not be worth starting in 12 team mixed leagues.

Prior has thrown bullpen sessions and is expected to pitch in a simulated game within the next two weeks. Prior is currently on the 60-day DL and can not return to action prior to late May. In all likelihood he probably won't return before mid June. Given that Prior has the chance to make 15+ starts this year, and the fact that he calls Petco home, means he should be grabbed and stashed in all but the shallowest leagues. There are certainly questions about how effective he will be following the shoulder surgery. If he struggles out of the gate then he certainly will be droppable in 10 team mixed leagues. However, the upside is certainly worth gambling on. I currently own Prior in my three leagues that allow DL spots.

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