This is the weekly Fantasy Roundtable, where the writers of Rotoworld Baseball let the readers of Rotoworld Baseball in on a quick staff discussion. It's water cooler talk ... that we've decided to publish. Look for it every Tuesday.
Drew Silva: I've been getting a lot of questions from readers about players who opened the season on the disabled list but are now nearing their debuts. Anyone you're particularly excited about?
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D.J. Short: I'll avoid the obvious names who are owned in a lot of leagues already (Drew Smyly, Hunter Pence, Sean Doolittle, Kenley Jansen, Jake McGee, Alex Cobb, etc.) and go with someone who is still widely available. Michael Saunders required knee surgery in late February after he stepped on a sprinkler while shagging fly balls in Blue Jays' camp, but he's currently on a minor league rehab assignment and could be ready for his season debut later this week. There was briefly some talk about him potentially making it back in time for Opening Day, but I'm glad the Blue Jays didn't rush things with him. He recently took a few days off from his rehab assignment after a minor hamstring scare, but returned to action Sunday with High-A Dunedin. Saunders is only a couple of years removed from a 19-homer, 21-steal season and I love the upside with the move from Seattle to a hitter-friendly ballpark in Toronto while being surrounded by some quality bats. He's still just 28 years old.
Ryan Boyer: I don't know if "excited" is the right word, but I'll also be keeping a close eye on Michael Saunders' return to the Blue Jays. I've been pretty bullish about his new situation in that ballpark with the expectation that, if he stays healthy (admittedly, a big "if" with him), he'd provide his first 20-plus homer season as well as double-digit steals. I think it's still certainly possible even with the late start to the season, although I wonder with Kevin Pillar flashing Gold Glove-caliber defense in left field if Saunders might not play as much as we initially anticipated. With Dalton Pompey struggling, does Pillar see more time in center field? My hunch is that Saunders will still wind up starting most every game versus righties, and I like him in deeper mixed formats.
Drew Silva: It's a pretty intriguing fit in that potent Toronto offense. I always thought Saunders was underappreciated in Seattle. How about a starting pitcher who might be worth stashing? There are many good names still lingering on the disabled list ...
Matthew Pouliot: Jarrod Parker’s rehab from his second Tommy John surgery has progressed swimmingly, to the point at which the A’s really can’t hold him back any longer. He’ll likely spend the full 30 days in the minors after beginning his rehab assignment Thursday, but based on the early reports, he probably won’t need it; he was back throwing in the low-90s once he started facing hitters in March, and if the A’s hadn’t been acting so cautiously, he’d probably be up to 100 pitches an outing already. If his first couple of rehab starts go as well as hoped, he should be stashed away in mixed leagues.
Drew Silva: Agree with you there, Matthew. All hail Oakland pitchers. D.J. mentioned Drew Smyly earlier and we're now getting word that he could make his debut this Friday night against the Blue Jays. The 25-year-old left-hander posted a 1.70 ERA, 0.755 WHIP, and 44/11 K/BB ratio in 47 2/3 innings last season after the late-July trade that sent him to Tampa Bay. I'd probably avoid his first start against Toronto because he only went 3 2/3 innings in his last rehab outing for Double-A Montgomery, but Smyly should definitely be owned in all leagues.