Fantasy Baseball: Do these 12 injured stars still have time to contribute something?

Carlos Correa owners have waited more than six weeks for their first-round pick to return, and at long last, it's on the verge of happening. He's on a rehab assignment at Double-A Corpus Christi, where he's 3 for 10 with a double and a homer.

Good for them, right? He's back when there's still time for him to contribute to their championship hopes.

Which isn't a given this time of year. With less than one-third of the major-league season remaining, it doesn't take a "season-ending injury" to effectively end a player's season, especially if you play in a Head-to-Head league where much of what remains is earmarked for the playoffs. What good is an ace pitcher's return in mid-September if you're already eliminated by then?

Obviously, when one of our injured stars goes down, we hope for the best, and the best-case scenario for each of these players has them returning with plenty of time to contribute still. But there's a difference between a best-case scenario and a realistic scenario, and in some instances, we may be in need of a reality check.

What follows is my perception of reality for 12 injured stars. It's no more than an educated guess, based on reports and intuition, but it can help you decide how to configure your roster for the long haul.

Which isn't to say any of the long shots are droppable if you have DL spots. You just want to make sure you're prepared for life without them.

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George Springer HOU • RF • 4
sprained thumb

The Astros acted quickly in putting George Springer on the DL, which probably had his Fantasy owners fearing the worst. But the UCL in his thumb is fine. The timetable was reported to be two weeks, with manager A.J. Hinch saying the 28-year-old may even be ready before 10 days are up. This one should be quick and painless.
Realistic hope? Yes

Lance McCullers SP •
strained forearm

Lance McCullers also got good news Monday, at least relatively speaking. His elbow discomfort is only a forearm strain, which would suggest Tommy John surgery isn't on the horizon. But a long layoff may be. At this point, the Astros' primary objective is to ready McCullers for the playoffs — in a relief capacity, in all likelihood. If you're still alive in late September, you may get a tune-up start or two from him, but only if you have the guts to activate him.
Realistic hope? No

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Carlos Martinez STL • SP • 18
strained shoulder

A little torn on this one. The initial timetable had Carlos Martinez missing 3-4 turns (one down already), and he was back to playing catch Monday. But he has already had separate DL stints for a strained lat and a strained oblique, making just one start before landing back on the DL with this third injury. Even if he doesn't suffer any setbacks during his rehabilitation and makes it back in late August, you can't trust him to stay intact thereafter.
Realistic hope? Eh ...

Aaron Judge RF •
fractured wrist

The most optimistic timetable had Aaron Judge returning three weeks after suffering a chip fracture in his wrist in late July, but he'll only begin swinging a bat this week and is still feeling some soreness. While it seems likely this injury could linger into September, impact is as much a part of this equation as timetable, and Judge's impact should be that of a first-rounder. 
Realistic hope? Yes

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Kris Bryant CHC • 3B • 17
shoulder inflammation

Already two weeks into a second DL stint for the same injury, Kris Bryant isn't exactly progressing toward a return, recently saying he's unsure when he'll even swing a bat. At this point, you have to think the Cubs are just trying to salvage whatever they can for the playoffs. Bryant hasn't been himself this year anyway, perhaps because of the injury, so who knows what to expect even if he does make it back with time to spare?
Realistic hope? No

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Gary Sanchez NYY • C • 24
strained groin

If impact factors into the equation, well, Gary Sanchez is one of just a handful of catchers capable of making an honest-to-goodness difference in Fantasy, ranking in the top five at the position in Fantasy points per game despite a sub-.200 batting average. He's taking part in baseball activities, which is a good sign, but the Yankees already brought him back too early once and may delay his return a couple more weeks. Not much longer, though.
Realistic hope? Yes

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Yu Darvish CHC • SP • 11
shoulder impingement

Not to be a buzzkill in a week of positivity surrounding Yu Darvish, but the simulated game he's scheduled to throw Wednesday is just the start of long rehabilitation process for a guy who has made only one competitive start (during an aborted rehab assignment) since May. Barring any more setbacks, the rehab starts could last all the way through August, and then he still has to prove his effectiveness after a bumpy start to the season.
Realistic hope? No

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Stephen Strasburg WAS • SP • 37
pinched nerve in neck

It feels like just as long since we've Stephen Strasburg as Darvish, but the Nationals right-hander, who initially spent six weeks on the DL with a sore shoulder, did make it all the way back for one major-league start in July before the pinched nerve sidelined him. He may only need one minor-league start to be game-ready and is set to throw off a mound again Thursday.
Realistic hope? Yes

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Josh Donaldson ATL • 3B • 20
strained calf

The Blue Jays say Josh Donaldson is making progress from the calf injury that has sidelined him since May, but the 32-year-old is still at the team's spring training facility and is surely looking at a lengthy rehabilitation assignment when he's able to play in games again. Any optimism is most likely posturing as the Blue Jays hope against hope to get something in return for a player in his walk year.
Realistic hope? No

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Sean Doolittle WAS • RP • 63
stress reaction in toe

At last report a week ago, Sean Doolittle's stress reaction hadn't progressed to a stress fracture, which is good news but still doesn't reveal much in the way of a timetable. Relievers don't need much of a rehab assignment since they don't need to stretch out for multiple innings, but if Doolittle's absence extends 2-3 more weeks, he may find that Kelvin Herrera has a tight grip on the closer role.
Realistic hope? Eh ...

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Tommy Pham TB • CF • 29
fractured foot

Anytime you're talking a broken bone, a month is the minimum you should expect a player to miss, with six weeks being the more realistic timetable. Either way, Pham's absence figures to extend into September, and seeing as he was already having to re-ingratiate himself to Fantasy owners before any sort of layoff, I don't think those who are still competing for something will be all too eager to activate him.
Realistic hope? No

Brandon Morrow RP •
biceps inflammation

Brandon Morrow is at least back to playing catch, which would suggest he's ahead of Doolittle's schedule, but "biceps inflammation" is such a vague diagnosis that you can't assume anything until he's actually beginning a rehab assignment. Good news is that the Cubs don't have an All-Star closer filling in for him, like the Nationals do with Herrera.
Realistic hope? Eh ...

Senior Fantasy Writer

Raised in Atlanta by a board game-loving family during the dawn of the '90s Braves dynasty, Scott White was easy prey for the Fantasy Sports, in particular Fantasy Baseball, and has devoted his adulthood... Full Bio

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