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Week 3 of the fantasy baseball season has just begun and already rosters are in disarray with a wide variety of injuries to key players. No one is immune to the walking wounded but that doesn’t make it any easier to manage rosters and try to overcome the adversity. It also becomes problematic choosing who to hold onto depending on how many bench or DL slots you have available. So without further ado, let’s delve into the next edition of the fantasy baseball emergency room.

Day to Day

Miguel Cabrera (1B-DET)Miggy left Sunday’s game early due to tightness in his back and could miss a couple days. He has been dealing with back issues since the beginning of the World Baseball Classic, so insert your WBC rant here. The future Hall of Famer is on the wrong side of 30 and has a lot of miles on his body, so these aches and pains will only get more frequent and constant as time goes on. He is still an elite fantasy option, but we need to accept that he might need some more days off than we are accustomed to seeing with him. You would think that Victor Martinez might be able to dust his glove off and play the field in Cabrera’s absence, but that will not likely happen very frequently. In fact, Detroit recently signed James Loney to a minor league contract so it is plausible that they already anticipate needing to spell Cabrera more frequently.

Carlos Correa (SS-HOU) – It has been a slow start to the season for Correa who sat out of Monday’s game with some discomfort in his hand after getting hit by a pitch over the weekend. It is expected that Correa will be back in the lineup on Tuesday so this is nothing to be overly concerned about. What is concerning is his one home run, three RBI and zero stolen bases through his first 12 games. Those numbers will pick up and his stat line will be at or near what is expected by the end of the season. His absence does give Marwin Gonzalez more opportunities to play as he is a jack of all trades with eligibility at almost every position.

Gregory Polanco (OF-PIT) – The multi-talented Pirates outfielder missed his third straight game on Monday with a right groin injury but is expected back in the lineup on Tuesday. Adam Frazier has filled in admirably for Polanco but he will return to the bench once Polanco assumes his spot in the lineup. Many fantasy pundits predicted a huge breakout season from Polanco so hopefully he can start proving them right once he is fully healthy.

Matt Carpenter (1B-STL) – He was hit by a groundball on his finger on Sunday and then it swelled up causing him to be held out of the lineup on Monday. Carpenter is a very valuable fantasy commodity due to his eligibility at multiple positions so fantasy GMs should be relieved that no bones were broken and no ligaments were torn. He could be back in the lineup on Tuesday if the swelling goes down but in a worst case scenario he will only miss another day or two at the most.

On the DL

Josh Donaldson (3B-TOR) – This is a devastating injury for fantasy GMs who likely spent a first or second round pick on the stud third baseman. Donaldson has been dealing with a calf injury for quite a while and has landed on the 10-day disabled list after aggravating it again over the weekend. Darwin Barney should see most of the playing time in Donaldson’s absence, and this should excite no one except Barney’s family and friends. You won’t be able to replace Donaldson’s statistical production unless you look to swing a trade, so just try to ride this out and hope that he is not out for more than a couple weeks.

Zach Britton (RP-BAL) – Any time a pitcher experiences soreness in the forearm the first thought is generally catastrophe as that is usually the precursor to a torn UCL leading to Tommy John surgery. Right now we have no indication that this is anything more than slight pain and discomfort, so hold off on panic mode for now. However, this injury will have a major impact in fantasy leagues because Britton is one of the top three closers in baseball. Brad Brach will likely get the save opportunities while Britton is sidelined, but it is anyone’s guess how successful he will be in the 9th inning. He is a lockdown closer so his absence puts Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman’s wins in jeopardy if he cannot protect leads.

Rich Hill (SP-LAD) – The Troy Tulowitzki of pitchers has once again landed on the disabled list with a blister problem on his left middle finger. That makes sense since he is basically flipping the bird to fantasy GMs who wasted a valuable draft pick on him. Hill is a late bloomer and clearly figured things out in the past couple years, but he has such a lengthy injury history that he almost makes Tulowitzki look like a pillar of health. Alex Wood will assume Hill’s spot in the Dodgers’ rotation which makes him an intriguing streaming option. Stash Hill on your DL or bench because he is too valuable to drop, but start exploring trade opportunities and see what you might be able to get for him.

Jake Odorizzi (SP-TB) It isn’t easy being Odorizzi right now after he was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a hamstring injury that he aggravated over the weekend. It isn’t clear yet who will take his spot in the Rays’ rotation but the safest bet is Erasmo Ramirez who came in relief of Odorizzi after the injury. Hamstring injuries are always tough to predict recovery time for because they require sufficient rest to heal the muscle and then a period of time for rehab. This injury doesn’t appear to be too serious but it would be surprising if he returns as soon as he is eligible. Ramirez is not a viable replacement unless you are in a deep AL-only league.

Sam Dyson (RP-TEX) – This could likely be a pity DL stint for Dyson who has numbers that look like my brief pitching career in Little League. Dyson is already 0-3 with a 27.00 ERA and 4.38 WHIP so his grip on the Rangers 9th inning duties is looser than a college girl on spring break. Matt Bush is the logical choice to assume closing duties, but Jeremy Jeffress is also in contention with a little more experience.

Jon Gray (SP-COL) – For almost 25 years, being a Rockies pitcher has essentially been fantasy baseball syphilis – you just stay away from it. However, Gray looked like he might be an exception to the rule as the young starter is projected to be a stud pitcher. Unfortunately, he has landed on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his left foot and is expected to miss at least a month of action. The decision whether to stash him depends on how many bench or DL slots you have available. Any replacements for Gray in Colorado’s rotation are not worth rostering so move on.

Kendall Graveman (SP-OAK) – Just when you thought the A’s almost knew what they were doing when they traded Josh Donaldson, the one asset they acquired from Toronto landed on the disabled list. Graveman is dealing with a right should strain but the extent of the injury is not considered serious since Oakland is only planning on him missing one start. Graveman has started the year strong with a 2-0 record and a 2.00 ERA and 1.00 WHIP through his first three starts and should be scooped up off the waiver wire while you can still get him.

Brandon Finnegan (SP-CIN) – The Reds placed Finnegan on the disabled list with a strained left trapezius muscle. He will be shut down for at least a few weeks and is expected to have a lengthy stint on the disabled list. Cincinnati’s starting rotation has been torn to shreds with injuries and you know the situation is dire when Scott Feldman is the best option out of everyone. Sal Romano was recently called up and could get a couple starts, but he along with Amir Garrett, Bronson Arroyo and Rookie Davis are options limited to NL-only leagues.

On the Mend

Trea Turner (SS-WAS) – He has been on the disabled list with a hamstring injury and is eligible to return this Wednesday. Turner has been running sprints and took batting practice over the weekend, so all signs are pointing towards his imminent return. The young speedster was a consensus top-20 draft pick coming into the season so fantasy GMs are anxiously awaiting some returns on their investment. That ROI will come soon enough and just in time to see his stolen base total skyrocket with opportunities to run against Travis d’Arnaud next weekend.

Matt Kemp (OF-ATL) – Kemp got off to a blazing start to the season before suffering a hamstring injury which landed him on the 10-day disabled list. He is eligible to return this Wednesday and is expected to be ready to go right away. The Braves offense is much improved this season and Kemp is a strong candidate to put up 30 home runs and drive in 90-100 runs if he can stay healthy enough to get 500 at bats. Freddie Freeman has been carrying Atlanta’s lineup and he will see even better pitches once Kemo returns to the lineup protecting him in the cleanup spot.

Jason Kipnis (2B-CLE) – Fantasy GMs can collectively breathe a sigh of relief now that we know Kipnis avoided serious injury after he was hit in the hand by a pitch during his rehab. The Indians indicated he could be activated by the end of the week, but it seems more likely that next weekend would be the most likely scenario. Either way, it looks like he will be back in lineups for Week 4 which will be a big boost for GMs who drafted him at a tremendous discount.

Buster Posey (C-SF) – The All-Star catcher is eligible to return on Tuesday from his concussion DL stint. We won’t know until then whether he will be activated, but we can be sure that Posey will be back sooner rather than later. This bodes well for fantasy GMs who were forced to add Nick Hundley as a replacement, and now Hundley can go back onto the waiver wire which is where he belongs.

 

Michael A. Stein, Esq. is the Chief Justice of Fantasy Judgment, the industry's premier dispute resolution service, and co-host of the Fantasy Alarm Podcast.  You can contact him at michael.stein@fantasyjudgment.com or on Facebook and Twitter (@FantasyJudgment).

 

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