Fantasy Baseball: Ranking pitching IL stashes with Walker Buehler dealing with an elbow injury

Fantasy Baseball players were dealt a big blow this weekend with the news that Dodgers ace Walker Buehler would be placed on the IL with a flexor strain in his right elbow. That injury figures to sideline him for quite a while, with the team announcing he won’t throw for 6-8 weeks.

That potentially gives us an explanation for why Buehler has struggled so much of late, as his ERA ballooned to 4.02 after allowing three runs in four innings in his most recent start. However, that doesn’t do much of anything to soften the blow for Fantasy players who took Buehler in the first 20 picks on Draft Day. They got six weeks of ace production and now they’ve got a big question mark on their roster.

They’ve also potentially got a tough decision to make. Because that 6-8 week timetable Buehler is on is just the amount of time he’ll be shut down from throwing. He’ll have to build his arm strength back up whenever he is cleared, a process that could take four weeks or more. Which means, we could be looking at an optimistic timetable that puts Buehler back on an MLB mound sometime in mid-August.

And that’s assuming everything goes according to plan. Things rarely go according to plan when it comes to injuries, especially to pitchers, and there’s a realistic chance this injury ends Buehler’s season – in which case, the hope turns to avoiding long-term issues that bleed into 2023 and beyond.

Which is all to say, you might have to seriously consider dropping Buehler. That might not be the case in leagues with plenty of IL spots, but if you play in a format that doesn’t allow that roster exception when players are injured, you’ve got to weigh the benefits of keeping Buehler around for a potential late -season push vs. having that extra roster spot to play with.

And Buehler isn’t alone on the IL. Three of the top five pitchers in ADP coming into the season are out with serious injuries right now: Buehler, Max Scherzer (oblique), and Brandon Woodruff (ankle / arm). Add in Freddy Peralta, Nathan Eovaldi, Sonny Gray, Marcus Stroman, and Jesus Luzardo (among others), and there’s no shortage of pitchers you might have to cut to make some moves.

Let’s go through the 11 most Fantasy relevant pitchers on the IL right now and rank them by how stash-able they are, plus some thoughts on reported timetables and expectations, starting with the must-stash players:

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