If you’re not already looking forward to and starting to prepare for the fantasy baseball season, then you may behind the eight ball already to start the season.
One of the trickiest things to figure out on draft day is where to draft injured stars expecting to return early in the season.
In the case of Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander, things become merely a roll of the dice.
Verlander underwent what is being called “core muscle repair surgery” on Thursday morning which should knock his draft stock down even further than a so-so finish to the 2013 campaign may have already done.
The right-hander will require approximately six weeks to rehab after surgery, which could potentially put his status for Opening Day in jeopardy.
Even worse, Verlander is now 30 so you don’t really know how his body will respond.
The Tigers aren’t really worried and expect Verlander back sometime in spring training, but you have to figure they will tread cautiously with him and assuming he doesn’t suffer any set backs in recovery, you could be looking at late April, mid-May before you have a completely healthy Verlander on the hill.
So what’s that do for his draft stock?
The injury makes drafting him early a very risky move, as he already began to regress in a bit in 2013, posting a higher ERA (3.46) and WHIP (1.32) than he has over the past five seasons.
That being said if he regains form and dominance, you could find yourself a steal in the middle rounds.
Verlander is definitely out of the top 10 fantasy starters and while I would likely have him in the 15-20 range in my early fantasy rankings, it wouldn’t take too much convincing to make me put him out of the top 20 altogether.
He went 13-12 last year and will turn 31 before Opening Day and coming off surgery just seems like a very risky move to me.
He;s definitely not worthy of being drafted in the first couple of rounds in any draft, but in a traditional 12-team league I can see him going anywhere between the sixth round (if you are reaching) and the ninth, and that may be me being a bit generous early on for a guy that two years ago may have been the first pitcher off the board.
Either way, this surgery is something you should think about when your drafts come up in the next month or so as drafting Verlander could turn out to be a major risk.