Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay began Sunday owned in 100 percent of ESPN standard leagues, but that number is going to drop precipitously in the coming days. Halladay owners trusted him Sunday against the awful Miami Marlins, despite the fact he has been erratic this season and was obliterated earlier this week by the Cleveland Indians. After all, Halladay wouldn't need to be at his best to pitch against that lineup, or so goes the theory. The Marlins entered Sunday hitting .224 as a team, alone in baseball in averaging fewer than three runs per game.
Unfortunately, Sunday's results, both during and after the game, have changed the story quite a bit. After Halladay was embarrassed by an awful, Double-A lineup for nine runs in 2 1/3 innings, suffering his second consecutive 14-2 blasting, fantasy owners can't simply expect the former Cy Young Award winner to just "fix" things. The Phillies can't pretend it was just a bad day, because this was more than that. And now, after Halladay finally and mercifully admitted his right shoulder has been hurting for weeks, we can assume a disabled list stint is pending, and you can feel fine about sending Halladay to your free-agent lists in 10- and 12-team mixed leagues.
I'd still use my DL slot on him in those formats if it's available, but as I wrote last week when valuable Oakland Athletics outfielder Coco Crisp was injured and sent to the sidelines for a few weeks, it's tough to hold on to injured players who aren't sure things in shallow leagues, and it goes double for starting pitchers because there's terrific depth. In many leagues, we get only one DL slot and short benches. Placing Halladay there is probably not your smartest use of the slot. Many have asked about ranking the DL-eligible players to see where Crisp and Halladay, for example, slot in, and I do that later in this blog entry. Halladay owners won't like it.
As for Halladay's Sunday performance, it wasn't painful only for him. The guy who was fantasy's No. 1 pitcher in 2012 average live drafts -- man, doesn't that seem like forever ago? -- hit Justin Ruggiano twice with pitches that he couldn't control, and threw behind another hitter, and it wasn't a statement pitch out of anger. He just had no command, notably on his cutter. Rookie shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria -- not a good hitter at all -- entered play batting .186 with a .543 OPS, and by the fourth inning he had knocked in seven runs on a homer and triple. Clearly something was wrong, and at least now we know a physical issue is in play.
Why bother holding on to Halladay in deeper leagues, or stashing in shallower ones? Don't expect the old Halladay ever again, but if healthy he can be useful. Shoulders are complicated. As of now, we don't know if Halladay is out for May or for months. Could he return to top-60 starting pitcher relevancy in 2013? Yes, I believe he could. A few weeks ago, he was pitching fine. Where do I rank him the rest of the way, as of May 6? Outside my top 60, and it's not close. It's time to move on. As for how the disappointing Phillies proceed, it's possible lefty prospect Adam Morgan, who pitched in Triple-A Sunday, is added to the 40-man roster and promoted. He's not worth a look in 10- or 12-team leagues yet. Neither is right-hander Tyler Cloyd, who wasn't nearly as good as his minor league stats a year ago.
Here is a ranking of the players who have DL status in ESPN leagues. In other words, if they don't have the asterisk, they're not listed here. In standard leagues, you get one DL spot. If I have three of these players, this is my order of whom I would keep, assuming I couldn't trade. Again, the truth hurts and yes, I clearly favor hitters over pitchers, which we all should. As of this writing, Halladay is not on the DL, but I would place him behind these 15 players and into the "best of the rest" section, right after Josh Johnson. Yep, I would. If I missed someone notable (not Francisco Cervelli!), post in the Conversation section below and I will chime in there! And I removed Brian McCann from the list, because he could be activated from the DL by the time you read this.
1. Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Miami Marlins: Hit fine the weekend before the hamstring injury, and speed isn't his game. Still capable of 30 home runs in four months.
3. Michael Bourn, OF, Cleveland Indians: Injury was to finger, not legs. For the rest of the season, he could lead majors in stolen bases.
6. Hanley Ramirez, SS/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers: We don't yet know how much time he is expected to miss (hamstring), as it happened over the weekend (a month?). Again, middle infield, big enough bat, invest.
7. Zack Greinke, SP, Dodgers: Was pitching well when he got hurt, and could return this month.
10. Coco Crisp, OF, Oakland Athletics: Serious regression was coming in regard to his power numbers, but still, it's not a serious injury and he always runs.
14. Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees: Should be at least another month, but unlike Hart and his knee problems, Teixeira has a bad wrist. Scary.
15. Ryan Madson, RP, Angels: Could easily step into closer role right away. Could easily have setback on elbow any day, too.
Best of the rest: Neil Walker, 2B, Pittsburgh Pirates; Adam Eaton, OF, Diamondbacks; Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B, Yankees; Josh Johnson, SP, Blue Jays; Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees; Kyuji Fujikawa, RP, Chicago Cubs; Alex Rodriguez, 3B, Yankees; Peter Bourjos, OF, Angels; Chris Young, OF, Athletics; Matt Adams, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals; Cameron Maybin, OF, San Diego Padres.