Just because a player is injured now doesn’t mean that they can’t help your fantasy baseball team later. Remember, the season is a marathon—not a sprint—and you’re going to need reinforcements at some point.
There are players who are available in over 50 percent of ESPN leagues that not only should be on your radar but who you should add before you get done reading this sentence, especially if you have an open DL spot on your roster.
Who are we talking about? Let’s take a look.
Drew Pomeranz, SP, Boston Red Sox (available in 53 percent of ESPN leagues)
Starting pitching isn’t deep this year, so you can sign me up whenever I can find a pitcher with a career ERA under 3.75 who nearly averages a strikeout per inning.
Pomeranz, who was tied for fourth in wins (17) and had the seventh-best ERA (3.32) in the AL last season, continues to work his way back from a strained tendon in his left elbow. He could be back at some point this month.
if he’s available in your league, he needs to be added now. If he’s already owned in your league, I would offer a player who’s off to a hot start (Matt Davidson for example) and see if you can get him cheap now because this is the lowest his value will be for the rest of the season.
Yuli Gurriel, 1B, Houston Astros (available in 62 percent of ESPN leagues)
If you have an open DL slot on your team. Gurriel would be the first hitter that I would add. He recently began a rehab assignment at Double-A after undergoing left-hand surgery in February but should be back in about a week or so.
Last season he hit .299 with 18 homers and 75 RBI. He will hit in the middle of the lineup and have plenty of opportunities to drive in runs. Gurriel is a consistent hitter and if you drafted a player who isn’t hitting like he’s supposed to, Gurriel will give you instant production.
Michael Brantley, OF, Cleveland Indians (available in 76 percent of ESPN leagues)
Injuries have limited Brantley to just 10 games over the past two seasons, but he could be activated as early as Friday as he’s fully recovered from October ankle surgery.
When he’s healthy, Brantley is one of the best hitters in the league. In 2015, his last full season, he hit .310 with 15 home runs, 84 RBI and stole 15 bases. There aren’t many players in baseball that can put up those kinds of numbers but staying healthy is his biggest concern.
If you play in a league with a deep bench or have five outfielder slots, I would add Brantley now because he could be the AL Comeback Player of the Year and give you production in every category.
Dinelson Lamet, SP, San Diego Padres (available in 80 percent of ESPN leagues)
Lamet is in an interesting position. He went on the DL after his final spring start because of a strained right forearm. While early reports were that the injury wasn’t considered serious, neither he nor the Padres are willing to discuss the results of his most recent MRI.
Dinelson Lamet (elbow) has had an MRI, testing. The #Padres are not interested in discussing the results. They are not interested in updating his status until he starts progressing toward throwing again and he is not throwing again. "We're just going to let it lie," Green said.
— Jeff Sanders (@sdutSanders) April 2, 2018
Lamet could be a fantasy stud this year with his strikeout numbers and the fact that he pitches in one of the best pitcher’s ballparks in the league. If he comes back within the next month I would add him immediately because it’s not every day you can find a pitcher who can average almost 11 strikeouts per nine innings of work.
Jimmy Nelson, SP, Milwaukee Brewers and Zach Britton, Closer, Baltimore Orioles
Both Nelson and Britton will help you win your championship in the second half of the season.
Nelson, who underwent right shoulder surgery in September, was pitching like an ace last season before he got hurt. He had a 3.49 ERA, averaged 10strikeoutss per nine innings and finished in the top 17 in the NL in both quality starts and strikeouts. He won’t come back until around the All-Star break but adding him now and stashing him is a good move.
Here are Zach Britton’s ERA numbers from the past four seasons, 1.65, 1.92, 0.54 and 2.89. Those are elite numbers and in three of those seasons, he had a WHIP under 1.00.
Britton, who could be back sometime next month after rupturing his right Achilles tendon, should get the closer job once he comes back and be a top-five closer.