Monday, March 3, 2008

Tender elbows and bold predictions

This is what I had to say about John Lackey in our Starting Pitching Draft Guide:

John Lackey has been up around 3500 pitches a year for a while now. He's been above, or right around, 200 innings for five straight years. His ratios have been going in the right direction and his Ks dropping for three straight years. Hmmm, I don't like the innings or pitch count. He'll be gone probably in round five, but I wouldn't take him before mid round six.

Then today, I read this in the O.C. Register in regards to Lackey's elbow problem:

"Butch and Sosh (Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher and manager Mike Scioscia) just wanted to push it back a day," Lackey said. "It’s getting better. It felt good in long toss today." It's still not a great sign. The decision means there's no longer any chance of him starting Wednesday's game. Any further delays will put his Opening Day assignment in jeopardy.

He's limited to throwing long toss? Yipes.

You'll recall this isn't the first pitcher whom we singled out as an injury risk to develop elbow issues soon after. John Lackey, like Scott Kazmir, has been abused in recent years. If a pitcher is in his mid to early 20s and has thrown more than 3400 pitches or more than 200 innings, a red flag goes up in my mind.

None of these reports signify fantasy disaster, but they're just little extra warning labels you should affix to your draft cheat sheets. Who's next, you ask? I'm voting for Aaron Harang.

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