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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fantasy baseball: Strasburg's declining value

If you're a Stephen Strasburg owner, you already know time is running out.

With that in mind, two-start weeks -- as this seven-day stretch was supposed to be -- are as valuable as a schedule that has Albert Pujols playing every day.

By now, you're probably aware Strasburg was pulled from his start Tuesday night because of inflammation in his pitching shoulder. An MRI exam and an X-ray showed no further damage, and the Nationals' rookie phenom needs "a couple days' rest and anti-inflammatories," according to GM Mike Rizzo.

And you need to start planning for pitching help in the fantasy playoffs.

Washington's original plan was for Strasburg to pitch no more than 160 innings this season between the major and minor leagues. He's already at 109 2/3, and Tuesday was a clear indication he might be lucky to reach 140.

The Nationals, as they should, will be extremely cautious with a pitcher who has struck out 75 in his first 54 1/3 big-league innings.

Stasburg's original timetable would have put him in line to be done by early September. Tuesday's development could push that back -- or could mean a significant drop in the original estimate of 160 innings.

If Strasburg makes his Aug. 2 start, he would be in line to pitch Aug. 7, 13, 19, 24 and 29. If he was allowed to get near his innings limit, he could also start Sept. 4, 10 and 15 -- which would mean he would be available once in both Weeks 23 and 24, which mark the first round of the postseason and the semifinals, respectively, in most leagues.

That's the glass-half-full analysis.

The pessimistic side of me says Strasburg won't get near 160 innings and might not pitch at all in September.

Next year, the kid gloves hopefully will be removed. This season, the Nationals have to protect their investment in a right-hander who might be the game's best in the next two years.

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