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  • Will Garofalo

Return From the IL Part 4

In the last edition of this series for IL returners, we’ll cover three SPs who are definitely dart throws, but still have the potential to return value in 2020. We’re now hanging out in the preverbal bottom of the barrel, with ADPs around 450 to 550. Even as you get this late in the draft, it’s important to seek value. Any savvy draft champions vet will tell you every round counts. But it can get tiresome and easy to let up and let a pick here or there slip through the cracks. So it can be very helpful to have a late rounds target list that you can quickly reference.

If you missed any of the first three installments, or want a refresher, you can find the first one here, second here, and third here.


- Looking at SPs who had less than 36 MLB IP in 2019.

- NFBC Draft Champion (DC) Leagues are 15 team, 5 by 5 Roto.

- New Last 30 numbers are from Dec-13 to Jan-13, and only DCs.

- ADPs are the players average draft position, not their ordinal # you see on the left.

Alex Wood (446.41 354/608) Last 30: 446.32 (397-507) 2019 IP: 35.2

Turning in 152 IP in both 2017 and 2018 seems like ages ago, but with news of Wood working on cleaning up his mechanics in preparation of a 2020 return, I may be buying back in. Of course, working and succeeding are two different things, but if working on his mechanics can help keep him on the field that’s more than half the battle for Wood.

While he is likely not a huge K source (about 8 K/9 the past few healthy years), he can be an asset in ERA/WHIP, and still contribute to Ks and Ws. He recently signed back with the Dodgers, which is a bit bittersweet in my eyes. On the positive side, he does join a team he is comfortable with and Rob Hill, who is employed by the Dodgers, is who worked with Wood this off-season.

The negative side is there are only so many rooms at the inn, and if I were to guess he’s likely starting in the bullpen with another pitcher on this list. Sigh. Of course, injury can always open up opportunity, but there are 5-10 other MLB clubs that would have more innings readily available for him.

I’ll still hope for around 100-120 quality innings, but Spring Training should give us a window into how healthy he is. Despite the quick disdain for Dodgeritis, he does get the positives of a solid ballpark, and a great team to back wins, so I’ll still have a few late shares. If he’s healthy and gets an opportunity, I like his potential value in this ADP range. The mention of this ADP range is a perfect segway to the next pitcher as they are in the same range.

Jordan Montgomery (ADP: 425 289/522) Last 30: 448.42 (345-530) 2019 IP: 4

Although he is likely a swingman to start the season, I am buying into Jordan Montgomery. Coming off Tommy John surgery there may be some early control issues as I’ve mentioned before, but I like his advanced feel for four pitches coupled with the ability to effectively mix shape and speed.

He did have some success in 2017, posting a 4.07 FIP (4.45 xFIP, and 3.88 ERA) with an 8.34 K/9 in 155.2 innings pitched. He could definitely work on trying to improve his K-BB% from 2017, and that might be too much to ask for in 2020. However, having those four pitches to work with could help him outperform his xstats again provided enough innings.

You won’t see him on any sleeper lists that are using Steamer projections, as they have him down for only a measly 28 innings. Playing on a premier team can limit opportunities, but with JA Happ a potential trade candidate, German’s suspension, Paxton and Severino injury risks, I wouldn’t bee surprised to see Montgomery starting games before June.

At pick 425 I think there’s plenty of potential value here. Some other pitchers I like in his ADP range are Patrick Sandoval, and gulp… Homer Bailey. That should paint a picture that while I can see a path to some value in those two players, I won’t have any issue taking Montgomery (or Wood) in this range.

Jimmy Nelson (539.08 407/660) Last 30: 537.58 (471-627) 2019 IP: 22

I can still see Jimmy Nelson’s face as he slid back into first base at a cold and wet Wrigley Field. That move destroyed his 2018 and most of his 2019 seasons, which brings us to his age 31 season, and a new uniform. Nelson signed a 1 year $1.25M with a club option contract with the Dodgers.

“Nelly” is another late dart throw I’ll take a chance on. I trust the Dodgers to identify talent, and while he likely over-performed some in 2017, he did turn in a 3.05 FIP and 3.15 xFIP season in 175.1 innings.

170+ IP is obviously too much to expect in his 2020 return, but if there are a few injuries in the Dodgers rotation, we could see Nelson sooner rather than later. With his pedigree, very good team and park context, and the fact he’s basically as free as it gets (others going around him are Martin Perez, Danny Salazar, and Rafael Montero to name a few), I’ll be having some Nelson shares in 2020.


This has been a fun series to highlight some SPs who may have been a bit forgotten due to missing major time in 2019. There is certainly a risk when it comes to drafting injury returners, but I still think there is potential value within. Good luck in your drafts and keep an eye out to see if some of these injury returners drop due to uncertainty, which could potentially create even more profit.

Are there any other SPs returning from the IL that you like for the 2020 season that I didn’t cover? Drop them in the comment or any of the social sites. Thank you for reading!

* ADPs listed are as of 1/13

Statistical credits: FanGraphs, Baseball Savant, Baseball Reference.

Photo Credit (pre-edit): Gary A. Vasquez