While it’s an unfortunate part of the game we love, injuries happen often in baseball, and when they do fantasy owners need to be ready to pounce on that next player who can amass some AB’s for a short period of time, or a spot starter who might be able to parlay a good outing into an extended look in a team’s rotation. Based on the recent slew of DL stints across MLB, week four’s waiver wire has its share of injury replacements looking to make the most of their respective playing opportunities.
One of the decisions we are forced to make in deep -only leagues is how to manage our FAAB when looking to fill dead spots on offense. In general, and even more so in 5×5 leagues, it’s always better to have a player who will get at-bats in any given week than to stick with a dead spot. That said, while getting no production from a position player for a week is not the preferred option, you also do not want to spend too much of your free agent budget on a MI who is going to put up an 0-for-7 with zero RBI during that weekly scoring period. As such, I only include players in this weekly piece who should provide some value, and not just warm bodies to occupy holes.
While it’s another thin week from a free agent perspective, here are a handful of players who could be decent injury fill-ins.
The news of Mitch Moreland’s elbow surgery lead to the Rangers calling up Blanks to take Moreland’s place on the roster. We all know Blanks has big league power, but has not been able to stick in the majors despite his career .304/.392/.520 line over parts of 10 minor-league seasons. He was hitting well once again this year in Triple-A, toting a .327/.419/.635 slash line with three homers and 11 RBI, and coming off PCL Player of the Week honors. Blanks should see a decent amount of playing time in the DH spot for the time being, and his power potential has always made him a FAAB favorite.
Goins has been the beneficiary of additional playing time with Jose Reyes on the DL nursing a cracked rib. He has limited offensive upside but did steal 15 bases in Double-A in 2012 and has been getting on base since he was inserted into the lineup. He’s now part of a potent Toronto lineup that should lead to runs, which gives Goins a little more value in 5×5 leagues.
The injuries in the Orioles infield lead to the call-up of Navarro last week from Triple-A Norfolk. Navarro was signed by the Orioles this past offseason, his third organization in as many years. Navarro was a third-round pick of the Diamondbacks as a 17-year old in the 2007 draft, and he has a little pop, having hit 24 home runs the previous two seasons in the minors. The Puerto Rican is probably a short-term fill-in, but he has swung a pretty good stick since his call-up.
Villar is a tease from a fantasy perspective, so he will taunt us all again this waiver-wire period. With Jed Lowrie out until after the All-Star break, Villar and Marwin Gonzalez should both see playing time at SS for the Astros. Villar has shown some pop with three double-digit HR seasons in the last four years, but is realistically just a speed play for fantasy owners. He stole 35 bases between 2013 and 2014 with the Astros in limited at-bats and accumulated $16 in 5×5 Only earnings during that time. He’s already swiped a base this season and will steal more—just be prepared for an AVG hit.
The A’s have relievers each year that pop up as viable fantasy options in deep AL-Only leagues (i.e. Dan Otero’s $12 AL-Only 5×5 season a year ago). Scribner has been getting the call late in games this year and has responded, picking up a couple of holds this past week while posting an impressive 14-to-1 K:BB ratio over his 12 1/3 IP and a 0.649 WHIP. Not a bad flier, based on the A’s recent track record with fantasy relievers.
Will Harris, RP, Houston Astros
Harris has allowed just two hits in his 12 IP this season while registering 14 punch outs and no earned runs. His big league K/9 rate is 9.8 over 111 1/3 innings, and that is legitimate considering he posted an 11.2 K/9 during his career 297 2/3 innings in the minors. The Astros has done a very good job building a bullpen with live arms. Harris is worth a roster spot based on his peripherals.
Tony Sipp, RP, Houston Astros
I will continue to profile Sipp until he begins getting rostered in expert leagues. For those who have been checking out this article weekly, you have read my ramblings! For those who have not been reading, I hope you will going forward.
It’s an extremely thin week for hitting options in the NL, and Lake was the only position player really worth mentioning. The Cubs system is absolutely loaded, so this could be a showcase for Lake. Lake is just 25, can hit, and can play all over the diamond: He seems like a very good fantasy play in the short term as the Cubs could be trying to build up his trade value.
Other NL-Only FAAB hitting options: Cliff Pennington, SS, Diamondbacks
The injuries to Hyun-jin Ryu and now Brandon McCarthy could lead to Baker being a fixture in the Dodgers rotation for the time being. The veteran hurler had a 1.06 ERA and 0.647 WHIP over his first three starts in Triple-A, then threw seven quality innings (four hits allowed) against the Padres this past Sunday in a loss. Baker could be a strong streaming option while he stays in Don Mattingly’s rotation.
Adam Wainwright’s season-ending injury led to the Cardinals purchasing Tim Cooney’s contract from Triple-A Memphis to make his first career start against the Phillies yesterday. The young lefty could not make it out of the third inning before giving way to Villanueva, who pitched the next 3 2/3 innings without allowing a base runner. Jaime Garcia and Marco Gonzales are both better long-term options to replace Wainwright in the Cardinals rotation, but with both injured, Villanueva could be the next option to occupy the no. 5 spot in the rotation, which makes him an interesting FAAB play this week.
Paco Rodriguez, RP, Los Angeles Dodgers
The back end of the Dodgers bullpen is a fluid situation right now, and Rodriguez seems to be a good fit for the next in line for high leverage situations. A career 10.7 K/9 and strong ratios make for an intriguing NL-Only pitching play this week.
Archie Bradley's injury, sustained when a line drive struck him in the face, opens up a spot in the Diamondbacks rotation. Delgado has been extremely effective in relief thus far, and seems to be the likely option to replace Bradley in Arizona’s rotation. The K rates are down from last year in the early going, but he is still worth a roll of the dice as a streaming option.
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