Pitching injuries are a fact of life
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It has already begun. The endless line of pitchers headed to the disabled list.

Looking back at 2013, there were a astonishing 258 trips by major league pitchers to the disabled lists. Remember, there are only about 360 major league pitchers at any one time (12 per team times 30 teams).

The 2014 season is just a few days old and it's already been a busy time for trainers and doctors.

We're not talking about just any pitchers, either. Stars like 2013 Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw and 2013 MLB strikeout leader Yu Darvish are on the list and missed their planned Opening Day starts.

While we sympathize with Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers fans, they aren't the hardest teams hit by injury.

The Atlanta Braves lost Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen for the entire season and Mike Minor for an unknown, but shorter, period. That's 60 percent of their starting rotation.

Oakland lost Jarrod Parker for the season and A.J. Griffin to the DL with elbow injuries. They are certainly not the only pitchers on the disabled list. Add Jeremy Hellickson, Colby Lewis, Patrick Corbin, Doug Fister, Jason Motte, Bobby Parnell and Luke Hochevar.

About 78 starters and relievers are currently on the disabled list, though a few are still there from last season. Still, at least 30 are injuries suffered in spring training and the first few days of the season.

In an earlier article honoring the late Dr. Frank Jobe, it was noted that one- third of the pitchers on 2013 major league pitchers had been a victim of an elbow injury which required "Tommy John surgery" at some point in their career.

But it's not just the elbow.

It's a shoulder for Cole Hamels, Jaime Garcia, Jhoulys Chacin, Jesse Crain and youngster Taijuan Walker, and a knee for Mat Latos. It's Kershaw's back and the Darvish's neck.

There was also the freak injury to Aroldis Chapman losing up to two months of the season after being struck by a batted ball.

What all this news is telling fantasy owners is how risky it is to put too high a percentage of your budget into the pitching staff.

Two highly respected college football coaches, Darrell Royal and Woody Hayes, used to say, "When you throw the football, three things can happen to it (completion, incompletion and interception), and two of them are bad."

The baseball corollary appears to be: "When you draft a pitcher three things can happen to him and two are bad for fantasy owner. He can pitch well, he can pitch poorly or he can get hurt."

With the season underway, there isn't much you can do to avoid injured pitchers, but you should at least begin to prepare for when it happens by watching the fourth and fifth starters on teams to see which ones can step up their game.

It also wouldn't hurt to check out Triple-A statistics to see who might be called up in the event of an injury.

Your job isn't done just because the draft is over and your lineups were set for Opening Day. If you want to win a fantasy championship, get to work.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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