If you've been paying attention to this list all season long, you'll notice it's down to 32 names instead of the usual 40. Yes, much has happened (some good, some bad) to bring it down to size. We've seen the successful returns of Jacob deGrom and Mitch Haniger from their long-term injuries, with Dustin May soon to follow. We've also seen Walker Buehler's, Fernando Tatis' and Chris Sale's seasons abruptly ended, the latter two having nothing to do with what landed them on the IL.

Their circumstances may be unusual, but the general trend of fewer worthwhile IL stashes the later we get in the season isn't. With about seven weeks to go, we've reached the point where *every* injury has the potential to be a season-ender, and for maybe one-third of the names here, it's at best a coin flip's chance whether we see them again.

But if you have open IL spots, you might as well use them, right? These rankings offer some idea how best to do so. I of course had to weigh how likely a player is to return against how useful he'll be when he does, and in these situations, I generally prioritize the more impactful over the more probable. A fringy player I'm liable to drop rather than move to my bench once he's off the IL, so stashing him isn't as worthwhile even if he's likelier to return. The depth of your league may change that thinking, though, so tailor accordingly.

Too valuable to drop, period
Max Fried Atlanta Braves SP
concussion - expected back this week
Mike Trout Los Angeles Angels CF
rib cage inflammation - no longer in pain, aiming to return Friday
Bryce Harper Philadelphia Phillies DH
fractured thumb - continues taking batting practice, set to begin rehab assignment Tuesday
Clayton Kershaw Los Angeles Dodgers SP
back discomfort - feeling better after epidural, has resumed throwing
Dustin May Los Angeles Dodgers SP
Tommy John surgery - completed dominant rehab assignment; set to return Saturday
Trevor Story Boston Red Sox 2B
fractured wrist - no rehab assignment yet, but traveling with team makes activation possible
Ozzie Albies Atlanta Braves 2B
fractured foot - taking part in baseball activities, could begin rehab assignment soon
Wander Franco Tampa Bay Rays SS
broken hamate bone - nearing rehab assignment, could return this weekend
Giancarlo Stanton New York Yankees DH
Achilles tendinitis - going through pregame routines as rehab assignment nears
Also really difficult to drop
Jazz Chisholm Miami Marlins 2B
stress fracture in back - about halfway through expected six-week absence; shutdown possible
Kris Bryant Colorado Rockies LF
plantar fasciitis - in a walking boot after first trying to play through injury; no timetable
Tim Anderson Chicago White Sox SS
torn ligament in hand - out until mid-to-late September
Carlos Carrasco New York Mets SP
strained oblique - expected to miss 3-4 weeks, leaving him with maybe 3-4 starts down the stretch
Jon Gray Texas Rangers SP
strained oblique - likely out another 2-4 weeks; may not have time to stretch out again
If you have to, you have to
Clay Holmes New York Yankees RP
back spasms - expected to miss minimum 15 days, but no guarantee he's the closer when he returns
Tanner Houck Boston Red Sox RP
back inflammation - determined to be a disc issue, will be evaluated after a week of treatment
Hunter Greene Cincinnati Reds SP
strained shoulder - back to playing catch after tests ruled out need for surgery
Luis Severino New York Yankees SP
strained lat - has begun throwing bullpen sessions, but can't return before Sept. 13
Jack Flaherty St. Louis Cardinals SP
strained shoulder - on rehab assignment, but must prove effectiveness as well as health
Mike Soroka Atlanta Braves SP
torn Achilles - dominant first rehab start Tuesday makes it all the more plausible he rejoins the rotation
Stashing is purely a luxury
Ke'Bryan Hayes Pittsburgh Pirates 3B
back spasms - waited three games before going on IL, which hopefully indicates short absence
Juan Yepez St. Louis Cardinals LF
strained forearm - on rehab assignment, should return this week
Harrison Bader New York Yankees CF
plantar fasciitis - was still in walking boot when dealt to Yankees; aiming for September concern
Tyler Glasnow Tampa Bay Rays SP
Tommy John surgery - peaking at 99 mph and executing breaking balls already; return not ruled out
Shane Baz Tampa Bay Rays SP
sprained elbow - received PRP injection but can't return until Sept. 9; shutdown possible
Luis Garcia Washington Nationals SS
strained groin - lengthy stay not expected; will shift to second base when he returns
Matt Carpenter New York Yankees DH
fractured foot - won't need surgery but still may not make it back
Jorge Soler Miami Marlins LF
back spasms - no updates since he first hit the IL in late July
James Paxton Boston Red Sox SP
Tommy John surgery - initial mid-August timetable no longer realistic but has been throwing sim games
Trevor Rogers Miami Marlins SP
back spasms - two rehab starts already; return may be imminent
MacKenzie Gore Washington Nationals SP
elbow inflammation - set to begin throwing, but no timetable for return yet
Kyle Hendricks Chicago Cubs SP
strained shoulder - recently resumed throwing; no rehab date set