Fantasy Baseball: Starting Pitchers Soon to Be Back in Action

Matthew BeckCorrespondent IMay 12, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Ervin Santana #54 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches against the Texas Rangers at Angels Stadium on September 27, 2008 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

If you have been waiting on the return of players like Ervin Santana and Chris Carpenter, your wait is almost over.

There are a number of good pitchers who will soon be coming off of the disabled list to help out your fantasy teams. Most of them are probably owned, but if not, you can be the first to the waiver wire to place your claim on them.

Here is a list of starting pitchers who will soon be activated by their respective major league clubs:

Ervin Santana (SP, LAA)

Injury:  Strained right elbow ligament

ETA:  End of the week

On Saturday, Santana posted a solid stat line with five innings pitched, two runs, three hits, four strikeouts, and one walk after throwing 79 pitches for Triple-A Salt Lake in his second rehab start.

With 16 wins and 214 strikeouts last season, Santana proved he can be an elite pitcher in the majors. I just wouldn't expect to see those numbers from him this season, coming off of a serious injury. 

Santana seems to be ready anytime now, so the timing of his return rests with the Angels. They could really use him right now, since they have three members of their starting rotation on the disabled list.

The Angels' upcoming schedule makes me hesitant about putting him in my starting rotation for the time being. They are going on the road, opening up a series against the high-powered offense of the Texas Rangers on Friday.

Santana is definitely an upgrade to anyone's rotation that is lacking wins or strikeouts.

John Lackey (SP, LAA)

Injury:  Forearm tightness, right elbow inflammation

ETA:  End of the week

On Sunday, Lackey had a stellar outing, going five innings and giving up three runs and five hits on 75 pitches for Triple-A Salt Lake. Although he didn't have any strikeouts, he had command of all his pitches.

Lackey has yet to pitch a game in 2009 for the Angels, but has been very consistent over his seven-year major league career. You can assume he will get at least 10 wins and have sub-four ERA when he returns to the rotation.

Like Santana, I would not start Lackey if he is activated before the Texas series, due to Rangers' offensive prowes. The matchups are just not in his favor, and the Rangers' lineup is not one you want to face in your season debut.

If you are a Lackey owner, just leave him on your bench for now, see how he pitches this weekend, then move him to your rotation when you think the time is right.

Chien-Ming Wang (SP, NYY)

Injury:  Hip abductor muscle weakness

ETA:  Depends on tonight's game and/or the next Phil Hughes outing

Tonight, Wang is going to make a rehab start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He has been cleared to throw 100 pitches, and if he does well, he could find himself back in the Yankees' starting rotation in the near future.

The Yankees have not been satisfied with Phil Hughes thus far this season, so they are anxiously waiting to see how Wang pitches tonight.

After three major league starts this season, Wang has an 0-3 record with a horrible 34.50 ERA after only six innings pitched. 

I would definitely keep him on you bench for the first couple of his major league starts after he is activated. Hopefully he can return to form and become the innings-eater he once was.

If Wang can return to form, expect him to increase your wins, strikeouts, and WHIP categories.

Daisuke Matsuzaka (SP, BOS)

Injury:  Right arm fatigue

ETA:  Within two weeks

On Sunday, Matsuzaka completed his second of three rehab starts for Triple-Pawtucket in which he through 58 pitches. He pitched four innings of scoreless ball while only giving up four hits and one walk.

Matsuzaka is slated to pitch one more Triple-A game, which will be on Friday. If all goes well, he will soon be rejoining Boston's rotation.

Matsuzaka started two games in the beginning of the season, but didn't seem to be himself. As long as he can stay healthy, expect him to put up similar numbers as last season.

I would grab Matsuzaka as soon as he is available to be activated. He should get plenty of run support from the great offense of the Red Sox. 

If you own him, he will immediately increase your wins and strikeouts, with the only downside being a slightly raised WHIP.

Chris Carpenter (SP, STL)

Injury:  Strained left ribcage muscle

ETA:  Possibly the end of the week

Over the last three seasons, Carpenter has battled injury after injury in the hopes to pitch another full season. This year looked like the year he would be able to pitch all season, but he was quickly put back on the disabled list after just two starts.

Carpenter threw aggressively and without discomfort Sunday, which was a good sign for the Cardinals. He is going to throw off a mound today and will have throwing drills on Thursday.

The Cardinals are opening up a weekend series with the Brewers on Friday and are hoping to have Carpenter back by then. 

I would go ahead and start Carpenter if he is slated to be start one of those games. He pitched well in his two outings this year, so I would expect him to be fine once he gets back in the rotation.

If you own Carpenter, start him as often as possible. He will help you out in every pitching category, but especially wins and ERA.

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