Just a few months ago, if you'd asked me to guess what Ben Sheets was up to, I might have guessed that he was hanging out with Tomo Ohka, Omar Daal, Kevin Appier and three or four other pitchers that none of us were ever going to have to think about again.
Perhaps they were playing golf, or shuffleboard, or Skip-Bo. Doing whatever old, retired men do.
But, in fact, it turns out Sheets was throwing, doing baseball things, working to get back to the majors. Sheets missed the entire 2011 season (and the '09 season) due to elbow issues, and most of us assumed he was cooked. And yet there he was on Sunday, tossing six scoreless frames against the Mets.
Sheets threw 88 pitches in the win, 57 for strikes, allowing just two hits and one walk. He whiffed five hitters and topped out at 93 mph on the gun. Highlights right here, via MLB.com. He gave up some hard contact on Sunday without paying a price, but he certainly showed enough to earn his way back into the fantasy discussion.
At his best, Sheets threw a bit harder and he basically never missed the strike zone — his three-year K/BB from 2004 to 2006 was 7.66, which is ridiculous. Of course his right elbow is now held together with twist-ties and pipe cleaners, so he clearly presents injury risk. But still, he's a pitcher with a nice history coming off a terrific start, and he's pitching in the right league, for a team that's 10 games over .500. Sheets is currently available in 81 percent of Yahoo! leagues, clearly worth a flier.
I have a deep loyalty to Sheets, as I owned him during his peak years in a league where winning was, um...highly incentivized. So I'm willing to give him a test drive again. You obviously shouldn't put yourself in a position where you need this guy to be great over the next two-and-a-half months — don't trade away an ace because you snagged Sheets off the wire. That would be nuts. But if you're pitching-starved, give him a look.