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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.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fantasy baseball: Adam Wainwright injury analysis

Adam Wainwright has been selected to one All-Star team.

Outside of St. Louis, the pitcher would be less likely to get recognized than J.J. Hickson.

Yet his season-ending injury (the Cardinals right-hander had Tommy John surgery Monday) is one of the most significant of 2011 for fantasy baseball owners.

It's obviously important that the injury likely was discovered before any league held its draft (if not, why are you drafting in February, unless it's a mock?), but Wainwright's absence eliminates a stud starting pitcher and leaves only three -- Roy Halladay, Felix Hernandez and Tim Lincecum -- as late first- or early second-round picks.

I had Wainwright ranked fourth among starting pitchers and No. 23 overall prior to his injury.

He led all National League pitchers in wins the last two seasons (39) and was a combined 39-19 with a 2.53 ERA and 425 strikeouts in 463 1/3 innings in that span.

Now the tiers of starting pitchers include only 11 worthy of being drafted in the first five rounds of a 12-team league.

The breakdown:

-- Tier 1, Rounds 1-2: Roy Halladay, Phillies (No. 10 overall); Felix Hernandez, Mariners (12); Tim Lincecum, Giants (14).

-- Tier 2, Round 3: Jon Lester, Red Sox (28); Justin Verlander, Tigers (30); Cliff Lee, Phillies (32); CC Sabathia, Yankees (34).

-- Tier 3, late fourth round, all of Round 5: Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies (46); David, Price, Rays (47); Josh Johnson, Marlins (51); Jered Weaver, Angels (58).

-- Tier 4, Round 6: Roy Oswalt, Phillies (62); Mat Latos, Padres (65); Cole Hamels, Phillies (70).

This isn't to say starting pitching isn't deep. Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals are ranked No. 73 and 74 in our top 100 and can be drafted as a No. 2 pitcher in a 12-team league.

It is to say there are very few surefire studs, and Wainwright was one.

Even if you have to be a fantasy fanatic to have any idea who he is.

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