The last week before the All-Star break tends to see an uptick in IL designations, as teams take what might otherwise be day-to-day injuries as an opportunity to grab some extra rest. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like most of the injuries we saw this week fall under that umbrella – these were a bit more concerning than that.
Before we get to the rest of this weekend's recap newsletter, here's the injuries from this weekend you need to know about:
- Shane McClanahan (back) – He was pulled from Friday's start, the second in a row, with back tightness, and was placed on the IL without a specific timetable. Hopefully, it's not too long, but I wouldn't be surprised if McClanahan were out until August.
- Jazz Chisholm (oblique) – Chisholm left Sunday's game after grabbing at his side while swinging, which is a scary sight. We don't know much right now, but I'd bet on an IL stint and at least a few weeks off.
- Corbin Carroll (shoulder) – Carroll didn't start any of the games this weekend after leaving Thursday's game, but he did pinch-hit Sunday, so hopefully that's a good sign. The biggest concern here is that Carroll's injury was to the shoulder he had surgery on a few years back, but right now it doesn't seem like too much of a concern. I'd lean toward starting him this week.
- Bryce Miller (hand) – Miller was forced from his start Friday with a blister on his right middle finger. That's a minor issue, but one that might keep him out through the break.
- Framber Valdez (ankle) – Valdez did not make his scheduled start Sunday, and this week looks iffy. Thankfully, it doesn't seem like a serious injury, at least, but maybe we don't see him until after the break.
- Clayton Kershaw (back) – Kershaw is still iffy for Monday's start, but at this point, I'd bet on a little IL stint until after the break.
- Royce Lewis (oblique) – Lewis was placed on the IL Saturday with a left oblique strain. He'll miss at least a few weeks.
- Brandon Drury (shoulder) – This one does seem like it might just be a minor issue, so I'm expecting to see him shortly after the break.
- Michael Kopech (shoulder) – This is another one where it sounds like it's a pretty minor issue, with the White Sox potentially viewing it more as a maintenance thing than anything else. Let's hope that's the case.
I'm Chris Towers, pinch-hitting for Dan today to recap the rest of this weekend's action, starting with the pitcher waiver-wire targets to look for:
Pitchers, Part 1: Waiver targets
Andrew Abbott (7.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 12 K vs. Padres) – Abbott is 88% rostered, so he isn't really relevant here, but I want to make sure I write about him here at the top. He's a good example of why, when talking about young players, we should make sure not to paint with too broad a brush. Through his first three starts, Abbott was avoiding runs, but he wasn't doing much else well – he had 12 strikeouts to nine walks in 17.2 innings, while allowing a ton of fly balls. It looked like a minor miracle that he wasn't getting lit up. Since? 30 strikeouts to just three walks over his past three starts, and he's starting to get swings and misses with the whole arsenal – he had eight on the fastball, three on the sweeper, six on the curveball, eight on the changeup Sunday. Overall, Abbott is down to a 1.21 ERA with a 3.47 FIP, and though I certainly have plenty of concerns about him as a 21% groundball pitcher in Cincinnati, he's also clearly made adjustments that can help him thrive moving forward. I don't mind viewing him as a sell-high candidate, but if I can't get, say, a top-30 pitcher in return, I'm OK holding him, too.
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Reid Detmers (6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 9 K vs. Diamondbacks) – I never gave up on Detmers, and I'm glad I didn't. He put together a 2.05 ERA in five June starts and kept right on rolling in his first July start. He has 45 strikeouts to 12 walks over his past 36.2 innings, covering six starts, and the key might be the increased curveball usage, which has done a better job of limiting hard contact than his fastball or slider. Detmers should be added wherever he's available, though keep this in mind: Because the Angels use a six-man rotation and only have five games this week, he may not get another start before the break.
Taj Bradley (3.1 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 K at Mariners) – Bradley's maddeningly inconsistent rookie season continued, one start after he was chased after just four innings with six earned runs allowed. Prior to that, he had allowed three runs with 19 strikeouts in his previous two starts, and it's just been all ups and downs for Bradley so far. The talent is immense, but he's simply getting hit too hard when he isn't getting strikeouts, and on Sunday he allowed 16 balls in play with an average exit velocity of 94.4 mph – Matt Olson is sixth in the majors with a 94.4 mph average EV this season, for context. I still want to hang on to Bradley despite the lows, but it wouldn't surprise me if the Rays opted to give him a rest before the All-Star break to try to get him back on track. There's no way I'm starting him for this week's matchup against the Braves.
Josiah Gray (6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K at Phillies) – As recently as last season, the knock on Gray was that his arsenal was too limited, but he threw seven different pitches Friday night, six of them at least 7% of the time. He's kind of following the Mitch Keller path of relentlessly tinkering to try to find a pitch mix that works, and while it's too early to say whether it's fixed him for good, he deserves credit for putting that work in. He introduced a sweeper on June 9 and has been throwing his sinker more, and in that span, he has a 3.81 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 28.1 innings of work. Again, it's too soon to declare mission accomplished here, but his average exit velocity was the lowest in any month in June, while his whiff rate was its highest. It's a promising start for Gray's latest iteration.
Mike Soroka (6 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 7 vs. Marlins) – This is the best Soroka has looked in his three starts, as he did a good job of limiting hard contact and had 13 swings and misses on 98 pitches. Soroka averaged 93.8 mph with his four-seam fastball, the third-highest he's ever managed for a start in the majors, which is remarkable given all he's coming back from, most notably the two ruptured Achilles. My expectations remain muted, but he showed us something here.
Seth Lugo (6 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K vs. Padres) – Lugo is a fairly low-upside add, but he's been really solid for most of the season, including a 2.25 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 16 innings since coming back from his strained calf. Lugo's velocity was up in this one, and he emphasized his changeup more than usual, which has been a good pitch for him. He's not a star, but his 3.53 FIP is right in line with his 3.59 ERA, and makes him a useful pitcher, though the matchup against the Angels for this week isn't great, so he's a middling streamer.
Jack Flaherty (6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K vs. Yankees) – Because of who he is, or used to be, every good start by Flaherty is going to catch our attention. What if this is the beginning of him figuring it out again? Maybe, but this was against a Yankees lineup with someone named Billy McKinney as the only player with an OPS north of .800, so the degree of difficulty isn't particularly high here. Flaherty's velocity was up across most of his pitches, though not his fastball, interestingly – he's tinkering with things, clearly. After consecutive months with an ERA over 5.00, I'm gonna need more than one pretty good start against a pretty bad team to buy back in. Your mileage may vary.
Kyle Bradish (6 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K vs. Twins) – Bradish now has a 2.98 ERA in 11 starts since the start of May, with quality starts in each of his home starts. At the risk of not giving him enough credit, I think that kind of sums it up: You can use him at home, and against easier matchups on the road, but I don't trust him overall. He is, thus, a decent start for this week at the Yankees.
Christopher Sanchez (6 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K vs. Nationals) – I'm not quite sure why Sanchez has been so much better this season than in previous chances in the majors. He's still throwing a very similar three-pitch mix as he did last season, except with even less velocity. One possible explanation is that he's increased the separation between his fastball and changeup velocity, from 8.6 mph to 10.2 mph so far this season. Is that enough to explain the jump from 29.8% whiff rate with the change to a 46.9 rate so far? Probably not; if it might, four starts is too small a sample to say for sure, at least. If he could keep up a strikeout rate near 25%, a sub-4.00 ERA would be more than possible, but I'm skeptical.
Alek Manoah (5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 10 K in Double-A) – You might have seen Manoah's dreadful outing for the Blue Jays' Rookie League affiliate last week, so it's only right to point out that the team advanced him to Double-A and he looked a lot better. In watching the highlights, I didn't see much of Manoah's slider, which has been the biggest factor behind his regression, but it's still clearly a step in the right direction, and I remain intrigued by the prospect of stashing him.
Pitchers, Part 2: Relievers to add
Hunter Harvey, Nationals – Harvey got two saves this weekend and is pretty clearly the guy here. Only one other guy has a save for the Nationals since May 28, and it wasn't Kyle Finnegan. The bad news? Harvey has just six saves of his own in that span, so it's not exactly a high-value situation.
Scott McGough, Diamondbacks – There's a bit more question of who will get the next save on any given day for the Diamondbacks, but after getting the save Saturday, McGough has the last five for them since June 17. I'd probably prioritize McGough over Harvey.
Adam Ottavino, Mets – I'd still bet on David Robertson being the closer here moving forward, but Ottavino did get the save Saturday, one day after Robertson blew one. Robertson's the better pitcher, but it's worth keeping an eye on this one for the next save, at least.
Trevor May, Athletics – May probably isn't very good (he had more walks than strikeouts this season!), and the Athletics definitely aren't very good, but he's the closer here for now. Just pray he doesn't blow up your ratios before he gets you a few saves.
Daniel Hudson, Dodgers – This is much more of a speculative situation, but Hudson came back from his torn ACL this weekend and struck out two in his first appearance of the season. He has experience as a closer, including five saves for the Dodgers last season, and his return may give the team flexibility to use Evan Phillips and Brusdar Graterol in different situations. I'm not necessarily expecting Hudson to be the closer, but I wouldn't be shocked if it happened.
Pitchers, Part 3: The rest
Eury Perez (0.1 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 0 BB, 0 K at Atlanta) – I mean, the good news is he barely added to his innings total. This seems like a perfect spot for the Marlins to pull Perez from the rotation and give him a few weeks off; that was probably the plan even before the Braves bombed him. The top-line number is scary, but there's no reason to think this was anything other than one bad start against a terrifying lineup. He'll be back to make an impact in the second half … at least for a little while.
Tyler Glasnow (5.2 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 11 K at Mariners) – That's now two starts in a row where Glasnow has, more or less, looked like himself. He has 23 strikeouts to two walks in those two outings, including a whopping 23 swinging strikes in the most recent one. It's no surprise he needed some time to find himself after so many injuries, but my expectations for Glasnow are sky-high as long as he can stay healthy.
James Paxton (4 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K at Blue Jays) – Given his own injury history, alarm bells went off when Paxton left his previous start with a knee issue. But he looked entirely unaffected in his next turn, racking up 15 swinging strikes and 110 pitches, his most in a start since April of 2019; despite that, his velocity was actually up in this one. Paxton remains a significant injury risk, but I expect him to remain very good as long as he's out there.
Freddy Peralta (5.1 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 K at Pirates) – The most frustrating thing about Peralta right now is how close he seems to be figuring it out. He struggled to a 4.73 ERA in June, but it was still a clear improvement over May; it just wasn't enough of an improvement. This start was illustrative of the issues: He's racking up tons of strikeouts, but still has just a few too many walks, in addition to an uncharacteristic seven homers in his six June starts. I want to believe he'll turn things around, but I just can't necessarily say it's going to happen with confidence.
Sandy Alcantara (5 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 K at Atlanta) – Speaking of pitchers I expect to turn things around but can't necessarily predict when they will. Alcantara has been more inconsistent than bad of late – he's allowed five, one, five, five, one, and four runs over his past six starts, and the issue is typically one of running into issues over just one bad inning. I believe he'll cut those bad innings out eventually, and I would keep him in my lineup for this week against the Phillies. I'm expecting a big second half … hopefully.
Luis Severino (4 IP, 9 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 2 K at Cardinals) – After his solid showing last weekend, I expressed skepticism that Severino had turned things around, and that looks prescient now. His velocity mostly looks fine, but Severino clearly isn't; his slider and cutter especially remain fractionally as effective as they were a year ago, and he threw just 12 of them in this start. Until he shows signs of rediscovering those pitches, you can't put Severino in your lineup.
Nathan Eovaldi (7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 5 K vs. Astros) – Eovaldi explained away his recent velocity dip as a mechanical issue, and it was mostly back in this one. It wasn't a full return to form for Eovaldi, who hasn't had more strikeouts than innings in a start in any of his past three, but the velocity is a good sign. I still tend to lean toward Eovaldi being a sell-high candidate, with his 3.77 ERA in June more like what I'm expecting moving forward. Of course, that's still a very valuable player for Fantasy.
Bailey Ober (7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K at Orioles) – Ober hasn't really inspired quite as much excitement as some other breakout pitchers, and I'm not 100% sure why. Part of it is surely that he just doesn't light up the radar gun or feature the kind of breaking balls that tend to generate much engagement in .gif form on Twitter. Part of it is probably also that there's just seemingly something unsustainable about what he's doing; his 2.70 ERA is backed up by a 3.60 xERA. But there's something to the fact that that 6-foot-9 Ober releases the ball closer to the plate than just about any pitcher in baseball, making 91.4 look a lot more intimidating than it otherwise might be. There's probably some regression coming, but we're going on 24 starts and 132.2 innings with a 2.92 ERA since the start of last season, so he's clearly doing something right.
Ezequiel Tovar, Rockies – Tovar's overall numbers remain pretty mediocre, but that's mostly an artifact of how bad he was in April. Since then, he's pretty much been the guy we hoped he would be – he's hitting .295 with a 162-game pace of 93 runs, 25 homers, 100 RBI and 12 steals since May 1. His 48% roster rate is too low.
Spencer Torkelson, Tigers – Maybe Torkelson is starting to figure it out. He homered Sunday and now has four in his past five games, going 7 for 18 during that stretch. Torkelson's underlying metrics have been quite a bit better than his actual numbers for most of the season, so if he starts to hit to his .339 expected wOBA, he could still be an above-average player. I'm looking to add him wherever he's available this weekend.
Travis D'Arnaud, Braves – D'Arnaud doesn't play every day, but when he does play, he tends to be pretty good. He homered Sunday, his third in the past five games, and is now hitting .279/.358/.492 for the season. He's about as solid as No. 2 catchers come.
Spencer Steer, Reds – I thought Steer was a nice sleeper coming into the season, mostly because of his very generous home park, but he's been legitimately great. He homered Friday and Sunday, and is now on close to a 30-homer pace, hitting .283/.374/.502 for the season as a whole, and while the underlying numbers don't necessarily back it up entirely, his .341 expected wOBA is a very strong number; that generous home park could help him continue to outrun that number, too. Steer might just be a top-12 3B the rest of the way.
Alec Bohm, Phillies – There was some hope that some swing changes might help Bohm unlock some latent power, but that has mostly proven not to be the case. We did get some pop from Bohm on Saturday, in his first multi-homer game of the season, but that mostly serves to underscore how relatively punchless Bohm has been otherwise. Bohm is big and strong and mostly swings at the right pitches, but I don't expect this to lead to much.
Jarren Duran, Red Sox – Consistency has been a big issue for Duran, but he still has considerable upside when things are going right. He went 5 for 5 with four doubles Sunday, bringing his season OPS back up over .800. The problem, of course, is that the Red Sox have largely given up on Duran as an everyday player; he started just 16 of 24 games in June. He still had eight steals in the month, but there's only so much value he can bring as a platoon player, unfortunately.
Brandon Belt, Blue Jays – Belt got off to a miserable start in April, but was hitting .292/.411/.467 since May 1 before his two-homer game Sunday. The power is the one thing that has been missing even when he's been hitting well, so that was a welcome sight; Belt isn't quite an everyday player, but in daily lineup leagues, he can still be pretty useful.
Maikel Garcia, Royals – Garcia just got finished with a June that saw him hit .280 with nine steals and then started July off by going 6 for 8 with a couple of RBI and one run scored. There probably isn't much pop here, but Garcia ranks in the 79th percentile in expected batting average and has 42 steals in 142 games between Double-A and Triple-A, and that skill set will play in Roto, even in an era when speed is easier to find than ever.
Injuries, news and notes
Aaron Judge played catch in the outfield Friday, the third straight day of on-field work for Judge. He's been out since early June with a ligament tear in his right big toe but remains without a timetable. I'm hoping for a return after the All-Star break but before August, but that's just hope.
We had a trade! The Rangers acquired Aroldis Chapman for pitcher Cole Ragans and outfielder Roni Cabrera. Chapman has looked pretty great this season, certainly good enough to be a closer, but I'd imagine he's more like insurance for Will Smith than anything else. At least for now. But if Smith falters, this could put Chapman back in line to be a high-end Fantasy option.
Carlos Rodon threw 3.2 scoreless innings in his rehab outing Saturday and appears set to make his Yankees debut Friday against the Cubs. I'd prefer not to start him right away, given possible innings/pitch limitations, but I also expect Rodon to be very good as long as he's healthy – he finished his minor-league rehab assignment with 17 strikeouts on 38 batters faced.
Brandon Woodruff will delay his next bullpen sessions as he hasn't been recovering as well as the Brewers would like. He's been out since April with a shoulder strain, and at this point, it's looking like an August return at the earliest.
Framber Valdez did not make his scheduled start Sunday due to a sprained ankle and we're not entirely sure about this week, either. I'd sit him at this point.
Clayton Kershaw could be placed on the IL Monday, though we don't know for sure. He's been managing left shoulder inflammation in recent days, and I'd bet against him starting at this point.
Eduardo Rodriguez will make his return Wednesday against the A's. He's still 89% rostered and rightfully so: 2.13 ERA, 0.98 WHIP in 11 starts before landing on the IL.
Phillies manager Rob Thomson suggested Friday that Bryce Harper could see action at first base before the All-Star break. Right now, Harper is just DH/U only for Fantasy.
Nick Lodolo will begin a rehab program Monday. He's been out since early May with a stress reaction in his left tibia. He's 59% rostered, and while it sounds like we won't see him until August, this is still a good sign. Lodolo has huge upside, even if he was a disappointment this season before the injury.
Bryce Miller left Friday's start early with a blister on his right middle finger. His next start is also in doubt, so you may want to bench Miller this week; Darren McCaughan is with the team on the taxi squad and would likely start in Miller's place if needed.
MacKenzie Gore left his start Saturday with a blister on his left middle finger. It remains unclear where he'll make his next start or not, so I'd sit him.
Tarik Skubal will start Tuesday against the A's, his first start since August of last year. 65% rostered, could be out there in some shallower leagues, and I have pretty high expectations given the growth he showed last season and the fastball velocity leap he's had during his rehab assignment.
Nestor Cortes threw a bullpen session Friday and is scheduled to throw again Monday. He was placed on the IL June 8 with a left rotator cuff strain, so hopefully he's just a few weeks away.
Kris Bryant made his return Friday. He's hit for batting average, but no power since getting to the Rockies, though I do still have some hope he'll get there.
Isaac Paredes left Sunday's game with left rib discomfort after a collision in the field. It's unclear if he'll miss any additional time.
Trevor Story is scheduled to take live batting practice Tuesday. We previously heard he might be able to return from a modified Tommy John surgery in August, though Alex Cora would not offer a timeline.
Garrett Whitlock was removed Sunday due to right elbow tightness. He was on the IL earlier this season with ulnar neuritis in that same elbow. He'll undergo an MRI Monday, but this sounds bad. I'm dropping Whitlock in a few leagues.
Hyun-Jin Ryu is set to begin a minor-league rehab assignment Tuesday in his return from Tommy John surgery. He made six starts last year and struggled to the tune of a 5.67 ERA, 1.33 WHIP. He's just 6% rostered, but hasn't really been useful for Fantasy since 2020.
Mason Miller was transferred to the 60-day IL. He resumed throwing earlier this month but we haven't heard much since. Miller has been out since May with a UCL sprain, and I don't expect much from him the rest of the season.
Brandon Pfaadt was optioned back to Triple-A after his rough start Thursday against the Rays. It just doesn't look like it's going to happen for him this season, though I'll surely have some interest when he is back up again.
Pavin Smith was also optioned to Triple-A, with Kyle Lewis getting recalled. Lewis had a .308 average and .950 OPS in 26 games at Triple-A and started both Saturday and Sunday. He's worth keeping an eye on in some deeper leagues.
Sent to the IL
Royce Lewis with a left oblique strain. Jose Miranda was recalled after hitting .255 with three homers and a .686 OPS in the minors. I'm stashing Lewis where I can, while my expectations for Miranda are very low.
Brandon Drury with a left shoulder contusion, retroactive to June 30. Hopefully, he'll be back after the break.
Michael Kopech with right shoulder inflammation. This doesn't sound like a terribly serious issue, so I'd try to stash Kopech if I could; if you need the roster space, I also don't mind cutting him, because I remain skeptical he's going to be consistently useful moving forward.
Ji Hwan Bae with an ankle injury.
James Kaprielian with a right shoulder strain.