Hey, Fantasy Baseball Today-ers, it's Chris Towers here, taking over the FBT Newsletter for the next week with Dan Schneier taking a well-deserved vacation. I've been pulling double-duty already this week, having hosted Tuesday's episode of the FBT podcast, where Scott White and I answered a whole bunch of your reader questions, just in case you're wondering why that episode isn't covering Monday's games. That's what today's newsletter is about. 

All but four teams played Monday, and here's what you need to know from around the majors, starting with some big names returning from injuries.

And of course, as always, you can follow to make sure you get the latest episodes of Fantasy Baseball Today right when they drop on Apple and Spotify

Welcome back!

If you had a whole lineup of players who returned from injuries Monday, you would have been playing a few players short, perhaps, but you would have had some pretty heavy thumpers out there. Juan Soto didn't start Monday's game, but he showed that the calf injury that forced him from Sunday's wasn't a big deal when he made a pinch-hit appearance late in a loss to the Marlins – that's a good sign that he'll be able to play this week, if you took the risk of starting him.

Two more long-term issues came to a close as well, as Eddie Rosario and Seiya Suzuki were back from the IL and in the lineup Monday. Suzuki started in right field and played the whole game for the Cubs, his first in over a month due to a finger injury. He went 2 for 4 with a home run that he hit 109.9 mph, his second-hardest hit ball of the season. That was an especially welcome sign from Suzuki, who homered four times in his first nine MLB games but hadn't gone deep in 32 games since. He remains a top-30 outfielder for me.

Rosario is harder to pin down moving forward. He was back in the lineup for the first time since late April after undergoing surgery to correct a vision problem. He hit .273/.351/.333 in his eight-game rehab assignment and then had a hit Monday, all good signs after he had just three in 15 games before going on the IL. However, it's still too early to know for sure if Rosario is going to be able to make an impact for Fantasy – he was a pretty middling option last season, so I'm viewing him more as a bench option than anything else until I see something from him. I'd add him, but my expectations are muted for now. 

Here's some other interesting injury news we got Monday:

  • Mookie Betts played second base – That's the first time he's done that this season, but it should happen more often moving forward as the team tries to manage the rib injury he's playing through. Chris Taylor is likely to be limited to the outfield for the rest of the season due to a foot injury, which might be how the Dodgers keep Betts at second base without impacting the rest of the lineup too much. He'd either be 1a or 1b at second if he gets eligible, so that's not a small deal. 
  • Tyler Stephenson (thumb) and Tyler O'Neill (hamstring) started their  minor-league rehab assignments Monday and could be back within the next week.

Meet Brayan Bello

The Red Sox are going to call up top pitching prospect Brayan Bello to join the rotation Wednesday against the Rays. It's not clear if this is intended to be a full-time opportunity for Bello -- Chris Sale is working his way back from his rib injury and could be ready to join the rotation next week -- but it's an interesting opportunity for the 23-year-old right-hander. Bellow wasn't a top-100 prospect entering the season but has put himself in contention while dominating the high-minors, posting a 1.60 ERA with a 32.6% strikeout rate in Double-A before jumping to Triple-A, where he has a 2.81 ERA and 34.5% strikeout rate in nine appearances. There are some questions about whether Bello will end up a reliever in the long run, but he's getting a chance to start and I'm excited to see what he can do -- especially with scouting reports touting a potential three plus-pitches, with a slider and changeup to go with a high-90s, heavy fastball. Bello is worth adding in 12-team or deeper leagues for the upside, though there's a decent chance this is just a cameo for now. 

Just when I thought I was out …

Eric Lauer struggled with a 6.83 ERA in the month of June, with a 6.59 FIP and 15.7% strikeout rate that suggested it wasn't just bad luck. I've dropped him outside of the top 50 in my SP rankings and wasn't far from calling him a drop, but Monday's showing against the Cubs does give me pause. Lauer's fastball velocity was fine (93.2), but he was spinning the ball incredibly well, ultimately racking up a truly shocking 21 whiffs with the pitch en route to nine strikeouts in six one-run innings. That's enough to keep Lauer from being dropped, though I still think skepticism is warranted. I'll need to see another strong start from Lauer before I can call him a must-start pitcher again – though I will recommend him for Sunday's start against the Pirates.

Do they deserve more credit?

We got some impressive showings from some pitchers who, frankly, haven't gotten a lot of credit from the Fantasy community of late. Let's fire up the old Trust-O-Meter to see how I'm feeling about these pitchers, with a one meaning I have no faith they'll be any good moving forward and a 10 meaning I think they're an ace. Be warned: No 10s will be found here.

  • Taijuan Walker – Walker allowed three runs in six innings with nine strikeouts Monday, giving him five quality starts in a row. And he has 36 strikeouts in 32 innings in that span, so this is clearly the most interesting of this group of pitchers. However, we saw similar results from Walker in the first half of last season, when he had a 2.66 ERA with 95 strikeouts in 94.2 innings, before he was roughed up for a 7.13 mark in the second half. Interestingly, Walker's splitter usage was down to 18% Monday, and that had become his primary pitch in June during this run. I don't want to write Walker off, because he's capable of these kinds of runs, but I think he's more likely to struggle moving forward than anything else, so I'm going to suggest he's a sell-high candidate at this point … Trust-O-Meter: 5
  • Justin Steele – Steele was on the other side of Lauer in that matchup and struck out nine over 6.2 one-run innings of his own. He walked four, but allowed just two hits in dropping his ERA to 4.13. Steele sported a 3.03 ERA in five starts in the month of June, and he has 23 strikeouts over his past three, but I'm skeptical. He does a good job of limiting quality of contact, but he's just too fastball heavy for me to buy into. If today's 40% slider usage is more the norm moving forward, he becomes more interesting, but for now … Trust-O-Meter: 4
  • Zach Plesac – Plesac now has seven straight quality starts, but he has 31 strikeouts in 43 innings in that span, so I'm not really buying it. He can be a useful enough pitcher when things are going well, but his margin for error is so slim because he gets hit so hard. If he doesn't have pinpoint control, Plesac can be a disaster … Trust-O-Meter: 3
  • Braxton Garrett – Garrett is a former top prospect who has shown some flashes this season, but this was the first time he's gone more than 5.2 innings, as he limited the Nationals to just one run in 7.1 innings Monday. However, that was the Nationals with no Soto, so I think it's fair to chalk this one up to a matchups thing. Garrett is a fringe option even in 15-team leagues … Trust-O-Meter: 2
  • Patrick Corbin – For what it's worth, Corbin's velocity is up right now, as he averaged 93.4 mph with his sinker Monday. He limited the Marlins to one run in seven innings with four strikeouts, and while he has a 5.68 ERA overall, this was Corbin's second good start in a row. I'm tempted to write it off, given how useless he's been the past few seasons, but the velocity spike has me paying attention. I can't say I trust him, by any means, but I'm interested … Trust-O-Meter: 4