Fantasy Baseball Instant Reaction: ‘Best-case scenario’ doesn’t get David Price entirely out of the woods –

“He is going to get a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews on his sore elbow.”

Baseball fans have been pretty well trained to cringe at the sound of those words. The second opinion is rarely, “My, what a nice elbow you’ve got there.” That sentence is more typically followed by words like “scalpel” and “12-to 14-month recovery process.

So, the baseball world (and all of New England) held its collective breath while David Price visited Dr. Andrews this week. Price has been one of the more durable pitchers in baseball in recent years, a near mortal lock for 200-plus innings, and a consensus top-12 Fantasy pitcher coming into the season. The elite pitching tier has already been thinned out in recent seasons, and losing Price would just be another blow.

It was a relief, then, to find out Friday that Price received nothing from Dr. Andrews except a prescription for a bit of rest. Red Sox manager John Farrell didn’t mince words when announcing the news to reporters, making clear this was exactly the news the team was hoping for.

“We definitely feel it’s the best-case scenario in light of him still having to miss some time, and there’s no timetable for his return yet,” Farrell said, via The Boston Globe Friday. “But, still, we’ve got a definitive plan going forward, and an encouraging one.”

The headlines rightly blare, “Price will not require surgery,” because that’s the key piece of news here. 24 hours ago, we were wondering if Price’s season would be over before it even began. Now, Price needs little more than an ice wrap, with Farrell announcing he will rest for the next 7-10 days before being re-evaluated. This is, by all accounts, great news.

But it’s only great news in light of the worst-case scenario, not the baseline. We’ve been worried all spring long about reports that Max Scherzer is still dealing with discomfort in the knuckle of one of the digits on his pitching hand, and that’s a lot less serious than what Price was staring down over the last day or so. Looking ahead at the season, we can’t just pretend this all isn’t happening.

Price may end up fine. The best medical minds the country has to offer think he will be, and that’s reason to breathe a sigh of relief. However, elbows are fickle things, and injures tend to go from “minor” to “season-ending” without much warning when it comes to pitchers.

Even in light of this positive prognosis, Price needs to be downgraded for Fantasy purposes. There’s no question he can be one of the elite pitchers in baseball, but investing a third-round pick in a pitcher who had to be shut down in the spring with an elbow injury is just too heavy a price to pay for that kind of risk.

Before all this news broke, Price was my No. 9 pitcher, but that simply won’t do in light of this. Maybe he can get through a few starts at the end of spring training without incident and I can re-evaluate, but top 10 is currently out of the question. So, how far down should he move?

The bad news is, there’s plenty of risk at the starting pitcher position. In my 12-14 spots in the rankings, I have three pitchers whose elbows prevented them from pitching for at least some stretch of 2016, in Yu Darvish, Stephen Strasburg and Jacob deGrom. Given that they are all currently further removed from their respective elbows barking at them — and with not that much less upside across the board than Price — he can’t go ahead of them.

Things get a bit easier beyond that. Here’s who is up next in my rankings: Cole Hamels, who defines “safe, but boring”; Zack Greinke is coming off his own disappointing season complete with injury concerns; Carlos Carrasco, who has never thrown more than 183 2/3 innings in his career; and Chris Archer, who couldn’t sustain the gains he made in his breakout 2015 campaign.

There’s a dropoff beyond that for me, and I can’t really justify dropping Price beyond anyone else here. Even if I tend to be more pessimistic about injuries than my coworkers, Price still has ace potential, and this was a best-case scenario after all.  

So, Price lands just in front of that last tier as my No. 15 SP. Ahead of Hamels, who lacks ace upside, but behind deGrom, who could be one of the best pitchers in baseball if not for his own arm concerns. Price isn’t entirely out of the woods here, because this could be the kind of issue that lingers well beyond the 7-10 day timetable he is currently staring at.

However, based on what we know right now, Price can’t fall too far outside of my top 15 at starting pitcher. That should push him down from around the third-round turn to the sixth or seventh, at least for now. The bad news is, it seems like pretty even odds that it will either be a huge waste of a pick or a huge bargain. There’s just no way of knowing right now. 


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