Another week, another Bay Area baseball player has been suspended for 50 games after testing positive for testosterone. One might presume that unlike last week, when San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera was caught and his regular season ended, Oakland Athletics pitcher Bartolo Colon just doesn't matter in fantasy baseball. After all, Cabrera was a top-10 overall option on the ESPN Player Rater at the time.
Colon, however, has been worth his, um, weight in fantasy leagues as he enters Wednesday 37th among all starting pitchers on the Player Rater, better than Zack Greinke, C.J. Wilson, Tim Hudson, Matt Moore, Cliff Lee, Yu Darvish and a lot of others. He actually had posted a better ERA in road games and wasn't slowing down, like he did with the New York Yankees last season. Colon was 4-2 with a 2.63 ERA since the All-Star break. However, Colon has never been all that popular in 2012 ESPN standard leagues -- he's owned in roughly a quarter of leagues today -- but statistically he deserved more attention. Now, of course, he deserves none.
The fantasy impact of Colon's suspension, however, is that hotshot rookie right-hander Dan Straily is likely to matter again, and soon. Straily, who remains the minor league strikeout leader this season, made three starts for the Athletics and two of them were good; in the other he permitted four Angels home runs. He's 23 and as ESPN contributor and prospects expert Kevin Goldstein noted just a few weeks ago, Straily really blossomed this season and forced his way into the Oakland rotation.
Straily should strike hitters out and there's valuable immediate and long-term upside, though don't expect Stephen Strasburg numbers moving ahead. It's also possible the Athletics shut his valuable arm down sometime in September, so be somewhat cautious whom you drop to acquire him. Straily was demoted to Triple-A Sacramento on Monday due to the return of lefty Brett Anderson Tuesday, but he could be summoned back for this weekend. The organization could also decide to use any number of others with varying value, like prospect Brad Peacock, who has many strikeouts at Sacramento but a 5.61 ERA, or Tyson Ross, who has been effective there. Lefty Travis Blackley is also an option. Because of the spacious Oakland home ballpark, any Athletics pitcher is worth a look as a spot starter.
Ultimately, if you were one of the few owning Colon, it's not a big deal to find valuable arms on free agency. Perhaps you don't like relying on rookies like Straily, his teammate Jarrod Parker or Matt Harvey of the New York Mets. OK, then take a look at these fellows, all available in more than half of ESPN's standard formats: Wei-Yin Chen, Ross Detwiler, Jose Quintana, Francisco Liriano, Patrick Corbin, Alex Cobb, Bronson Arroyo, Clayton Richard and Carlos Villanueva. And there's always Brett Anderson, whom I'd take over all of them.