While they were downing the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night, the Yankees were also licking their wounds, preparing for life without Joba Chamberlain. The 22-year-old righty went on the disabled list with tendinitis in his right shoulder, adding to the list of pinstriped talent that's gotten hurt this year. This, it must be said, is what happens when a team is both very old and very young. The old guys (Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui) wear down, while the young guys (Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy) can't handle their first go-rounds. (It should also be noted that Ivan Rodriguez was injured in a home-plate collision Wednesday.)
Chamberlain leaving the rotation means four of the Yankees' top six starting pitchers are out (Chien-Ming Wang and the three youngsters mentioned above). Chamberlain has been told by Dr. James Andrews not to throw a ball for a week, whereupon he'll be re-evaluated. It seems unlikely that the Yankees would take the huge chance of throwing Chamberlain right back into the rotation, so a short rehab stint could be in the offing as well, potentially leaving him out for much of August.
The crazy thing here is that a full 60 percent of the current Yankee rotation is essentially unusable in standard fantasy leagues. That's a shocking development in the Bronx. Sure, I suppose Sidney Ponson has been kind of a nice story, and he was decent Wednesday, allowing three runs in 6 1/3 innings. But as Sir Sidney showed in blowout losses to the Red Sox and Rangers in the past couple weeks, he can torch your averages in a hurry. With Andy Pettitte also struggling, the Yanks are a bit of a fantasy mess. Mike Mussina may be only the reliable starter in the Bronx right now.
Comings and Goings
Francisco Liriano finally made his reappearance in the major leagues Sunday, pitching six shutout innings against the Indians, fanning five, walking three and allowing three hits. Considering how much better his control looked in this outing, and how well he was throwing at Triple-A, Liriano should be owned in all fantasy leagues. His next start comes Saturday against the Royals. ... Erik Bedard played catch earlier this week and reported feeling pretty good, but the Mariners still won't let him pitch on consecutive days, and he's been out so long that a relatively long rehab stint should be required. There's still a chance he won't pitch again this year. ... John Maine, who's currently on the DL with a strained rotator cuff, threw a successful side session Tuesday, according to the New York Daily News, and is scheduled to throw a simulated game Friday. The Mets still hope to get Maine back when he's eligible, which would put him on track to start next Wednesday. ... Zack Greinke was suspended five games for throwing at Nick Swisher in Sunday's game. It shouldn't interrupt his schedule, except to give him an extra day of rest. ... The Rockies activated Jeff Francis from the DL, and Francis was scheduled to start against the Nationals on Wednesday night, but was rained out. He'll try again Thursday. ... The Rockies also continued the process of securing Livan Hernandez for the rest of the year. Hernandez was waived by the Twins and claimed by Colorado, and is expected to replace Jorge De La Rosa in the Rockies' rotation. ... The White Sox believe they'll get Jose Contreras back from the DL Saturday, when he'd start against the Red Sox. He hasn't started since July 13 because of elbow tendinitis. ... The A's called up top lefty prospect Gio Gonzalez to make his major-league debut Wednesday night. He lost to Toronto, allowing four runs, four hits, and two walks while striking out four in six innings. He might be worth a look in deeper leagues, as he's got some good breaking stuff, but his control could eventually wind up being a problem this year. The A's sent down struggling Dana Eveland last weekend. ... The A's also thought they'd have to place Sean Gallagher, whom they acquired in the Rich Harden trade, on the DL, as Gallagher struggled with wildness Monday (he hit two batters to force in runs) after feeling a pop in his arm in his previous start. Dan Meyer will pitch in Gallagher's place Saturday against the Tigers, but now it appears Gallagher won't go on the DL, and will pitch next week against Tampa. It's unclear at this point whether Meyer or Gonzalez (or both) will stick in the Oakland rotation. ... Jeff Karstens was a bit of a throw-in from the Yankees in the Xavier Nady trade, but in two starts with the Pirates, he's thrown incredibly well: 15 scoreless innings, two wins, and a near perfect game Wednesday against the Diamondbacks. He's not a great bet to keep this up, but if you're in desperate need of a starter in a deep league, there are worse trains to jump on. ... The Orioles called up Chris Waters from Triple-A to start in Radhames Liz's rotation spot, and he unexpectedly shut out the Angels for eight innings Tuesday night, allowing just one hit and three walks against baseball's best team. He'll start again Monday against the Indians, but isn't a particularly good fantasy bet. ... The Rangers placed rookie Eric Hurley on the DL last Friday with inflammation in his pitching shoulder. They called up Tommy Hunter from Triple-A Oklahoma, whereupon he got crushed in his first two major-league outings, including Wednesday night against the Yankees. ... Freddy Garcia held a workout for major-league teams Tuesday to show how far along he is in his recovery from shoulder surgery. No team has expressed major interest in signing him yet, though Garcia's velocity was reportedly in the high 80s. ... After throwing a bullpen session last weekend, Tim Hudson decided the experts were right, and that he needed to undergo Tommy John surgery.
On The Farm
According to the Los Angeles Times, Brad Penny reached 98 miles per hour in a rehab start for Triple-A Las Vegas last Saturday, and his shoulder was deemed healthy enough to return to the majors. Penny should start Friday against the Giants. ... Aaron Harang pitched six scoreless innings at Triple-A Louisville on Monday, allowing five hits, no walks and striking out six. He was scheduled to throw a side session for the Reds on Wednesday, and while there's no timetable for his return from the DL, he told MLB.com he hopes it'll be soon. ... Bartolo Colon started for Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday and allowed four hits, a walk and three runs in two-thirds of an inning. Needless to say, he'll need more work before the Red Sox think about using him to replace the struggling Clay Buchholz. ... Remember Rich Hill? The Cubs starter who won 11 games with a 3.92 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP with the big club in 2007 continues to be a disaster in the minors this year, and now is back on the Triple-A DL with further back problems. He'll be a major question mark heading into 2009. ... Hayden Penn was hit by a broken bat in a Triple-A game Saturday, which was the turn of events that led to Waters pitching for the Orioles on Tuesday. However, Penn was able to get right back out there for Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday, throwing five shutout innings. ... The Cardinals released Matt Clement from Triple-A Memphis.
Christopher Harris is a fantasy baseball, football and racing analyst for ESPN.com. He is a six-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner across all three of those sports. You can e-mail him here.