Welcome to our brand new MLB Streaks and Trends article. Each week we’ll break down the major developments and movements within the world of fantasy baseball and analyze the affect that they’ll have on your fantasy baseball strategy and more importantly, how they’ll impact your fantasy team.

One major trend many fantasy players have had to deal with is the growing number of fantasy relevant baseball players who’ve hit the IL. If your team has been bitten by the injury bug you need to check out our own Dan Malin’s must read, comprehensive, bi-weekly, waiver wire column. He’s always comes through with great player recommendations for you.

Once you’ve found a replacement your injured player you should shift your focus to the broader affect that a player injury has on his real life team. How will their lineup change? Will someone move up or down in the lineup moving forward. Will someone be asked to play a new position?  The answers to these questions have fantasy implications and should be explored.

The Yankees have lost several players to injury this season. The latest players to hit the IL for the Bronx Bombers includes Giancarlo Stanton , Miguel Andújar , CC Sabathia and Troy Tulowitzki (shocker). Let’s examine how some of these recent injuries have affected their roster and day to day lineup.

DJ LeMahieu will be filling in for Andujar, eventually adding third base eligibility to his resume. According to Yankees manager Aaron Boone, LeMahieu will likely bat leadoff against left-handed pitching. With Andujar’s injury possibly being season ending, first baseman Greg Bird started fielding groundballs at third base, a position that he last played in high school. We Yankees fans hope we never have to witness Bird manning the hot corner, but on the bright side if that does happen, he might eventually have dual position eligibility.

Former Indians top prospect Clint Frazier , will see regular playing time in the outfield with Stanton sidelined. He struggled this spring, but has since made subtle changes to his swing and according to Boone was “raking” in minor league camp. Keep lefty swinging Mike Tauchman on your watch list. If Frazier slumps, he might see increased at-bats. Hopefully he’d be able to take advantage of that short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium. 

The Yanks weren’t the only team dealing with injuries this past week. Nationals shortstop Trea Turner , considered a lock for 40 plus stolen bases, will be sidelined for at least a month due to a broken index finger. Slick fielding Wilmer Difo will replace Turner at short, but Brian Dozier may be the National who benefits most from Turner’s absence. Look for him to bat second moving forward. He’s used to hitting at the top of the order from his days with the Twins, and will likely see more fastballs as a result of batting ahead of Anthony Rendon .

Rockies first baseman Daniel Murphy will miss an extended period of time due to a fractured finger. Ryan McMahon , who was expected to be the Rockies primary second baseman, has been playing some first base since the injury to Murphy with speedy Garrett Hampson getting some starts at second base. With Mark Reynolds getting the occasional spot start at first base the situation needs to be monitored. For now, it seems safe to put both McMahon and Hampson in your weekly league lineups. They’ve started four of the five games Murphy has missed thus far.

Turning our attention to starting pitching, through Thursday, A’s starters (Mike Fiers , Marco Estrada , Brett Anderson , Frankie Montas and Aaron Brooks ) have pitched 54.2 innings and have a sparkling 2.30 ERA. What’s most impressive is the success they had in four games against the potent Red Sox offense. Keep an eye on them but unless you play in a deep league (15 teams or more) I wouldn’t rush to add any A’s starters as of yet.

Chris Sale is making a lot of his fantasy managers very nervous and I understand why. His fastball was routinely hitting 97 mph on the radar gun last summer. It sat at around 92.3 mph in his first start of the season and just 89 mph in his second start. He also hasn’t generated a single swing and miss off of the 50 four-seam fastballs he’s thrown this season. Red Sox pitching coach Dana LeVangie insists that Sale’s lower velocity is all part of a plan designed to allow him to maintain his effectiveness for the entire season. I’m a Yankees fan and obviously don’t love the Red Sox, but I believe that before they signed Sale to a $145 million contract extension, they did their due diligence and made sure there was nothing wrong with Sale’s golden left arm. I probably wouldn’t trade for Sale in fantasy unless an owner was absolutely giving him away, but at the same time it’s too soon to panic.

Corey Kluber is another veteran superstar pitcher who’s gotten off to a slow start (0-2 won/loss record, 5.23 ERA). In evaluating Kluber’s situation, you have to wonder why the Indians put him on the trading block. Were they concerned with his age (32), or the number of innings he’s pitched in his career, or was there something else? We’re looking at a very small sample size however, Kluber’s 2019 peripheral stats suggest better days are ahead. The velocity on his fastball is just about the same as last season. His 52.9 strand rate is way too low and should normalize. ERA estimators like Siera and xFIP suggest his ERA should be over four, but his FIP estimates that his ERA should be under three (2.64).

As we move out to the bullpen if you’ve been playing fantasy baseball for a while I don’t have to tell you that managing closers is an adventure every season. Unfortunately, a high percentage of pitchers starting the season as their team’s closer eventually end up losing their job. Shane Greene is a good example. Through Thursday’s action Greene had saved all five of the Tigers victories. He’s the type of closer that fantasy players should hold onto for a while and eventually trade before his value fades. Since the Tigers aren’t likely to be contenders this season they’ll probably trade him before baseball’s July 31 trade deadline. Greene probably won’t be the closer on his new team, and unless you play in a league that tracks holds as a category, he’ll eventually have very little fantasy value.

On the other hand, Red Sox reliever Ryan Brasier , may eventually have the opportunity to close for the Bosox. He picked up his first save of the year on Wednesday, but while some feel Brasier is better suited for the job, Matt Barnes remains the Red Sox closer. However, if you punted the saves category, Brasier is rosterable. He’ll get the occasional save opportunity and would likely close should Barnes slump or get hurt.

Since this article is about MLB streaks and trends, let’s finish off with a few more streaks and trends. Keep in mind that it’s still very early in the season:

Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies has been on fire. In particular, he’s had much more success against right-handed pitching this season as compared to last. He batted just .231 against right-handed pitching in 2018. This season he’s batting .357 against righties (14 ABs).

Has Yoán Moncada finally figured it out? He’s batting .450 with two home runs in his first five games but most importantly, he’s lowered his strikeout rate from an ugly 33.4 % in 2018 to just 13 %.

Yandy Díaz has a tremendous hit tool and is getting regular playing time with the Rays. The only thing that’s been missing from his game is a power bat. Based on his physique, strength isn’t the issue. Many feel it’s his approach at the plate. Things may be looking up. Not only has he increased his hard hit rate in 2019 (55.6% compared to 44.4% last season), but his fly ball rate of 27.8 % is 4.5 points higher than last season’s rate.