It's a good thing the Astros already had the deepest lineup in baseball, because they've been hit by a Yankees-esque string of bad injury luck. Their lineup Thursday and Wednesday still had All-Star-caliber players like Alex Bregman and Michael Brantley, but they weren't surrounded by their typical cadre of superstars.
Instead, they were limited to just one run while featuring Derek Fisher in the leadoff spot, Yuli Gurriel (and his .409 slugging percentage) batting cleanup, and Tyler White, Tony Kemp, and Jake Marisnick rounding out the lineup. With George Springer, Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, and Aledmys Diaz on the IL, the Astros look suddenly vulnerable.
If you're not in desperate need of immediate (think this weekend or Week 11), you should try to find a spot on your bench for Alvarez or Tucker, if available. If you do need help right now, we've got help for you too:
Five players to add on waivers
Mallex Smith (47%) — Ten games since coming back from the minors: .297 average, 5 runs, 7 RBI, 5 stolen bases. That's exactly what we wanted to see from Smith, and it comes after he hit .333 with seven steals in 10 games at Triple-A. Smith was a top-100 draft pick this season, and he's still available in more than half of CBS Fantasy leagues. He's a must-add player in every categories league, and more than a few points leagues, too.
Scott Kingery (33%) — In case you need a reminder, Kingery finished off his minor-league career with 26 homers and 29 stolen bases in just 132 games in 2017 between Double-A and Triple-A. Yes, his rookie season was a disaster. Yes, he still swings and misses too often (though he's cut that down this season). But that skill set is still there, and with Odubel Herrera likely away from the team for a while, Kingery has his first real opportunity to stick in the lineup and (hopefully) play one position every day. There's big potential here, still.
Lourdes Gurriel (36%) — Never really known for his pop, Gurriel quietly hit 18 homers in 116 games between three levels in 2018, while maintaining high averages and his solid, contact-oriented profile. Gurriel has increased his average launch angle so far in 2019, leading to eight homers in 49 games between Triple-A and the majors, including four in just 19 games so far with the Jays. With triple eligibility (and only two more appearances at first base needed to gain a fourth), Gurriel looks like a useful option to have around, especially in daily lineup leagues.
John Means (41%) — The Orioles don't have many players you'd definitively say are good, but they've got more than a few who have shown enough flashes to be interesting. That's one of the benefits of such a garish display of tanking; young guys who might otherwise have never received a chance will sometimes pop. "Pop" is a relative term with Means, of course, whose 2.80 ERA isn't backed up by particularly strong peripherals. However, he has added velocity and spin to his fastball, to go along with a devastating changeup. It's not enough to make him a star, or even necessarily a consistent starter, but against a matchup like he had Wednesday against Detroit, he's more than capable of a seven-strikeout effort over six one-run innings.
Carson Kelly (8%) — Kelly has been pretty solid for the Diamondbacks, hitting .263/.346/.505 so far. The problem is, he just hasn't been playing very much this season. He started just 12 of 29 games in the month of April and hasn't had too many more opportunities in May so far. However, the team waived John Ryan Murphy earlier this week and hasn't used Blake Swihart behind the plate yet, so it's just a two-man show with Kelly and Alex Avila behind the plate. Expect Kelly to start getting closer to half of the starts, if not more, making him a viable No. 2 catcher.
Jorge Alfaro — Going an entire game without striking out is typically an accomplishment for Alfaro — he's only done it in seven starts so far — but it's now happened twice in his past three games. Alfaro has cut his strikeout rate in May to 31.3%, which may not sound like a lot, but it was 37.3% in April and 36.6% last season, so that would be a not-insignificant improvement. Going 4 for 4 Wednesday was just icing on the cake as far as I'm concerned.
Aaron Nola — Given that there aren't really any red flags in his velocity or pitch usage, it still seems OK to expect Nola to right the ship. In fact, to some extent he has so far in May, striking out 42 batters in 33 innings and posting a 2.73 ERA despite a .346 BABIP. Yes, he's still walking too many batters, but everything else seems to have locked in. That will, too.
James Paxton — It was nice to see Paxton back on the mound without any issues Wednesday. He only threw four innings in his first start back from a knee issue, but he struck out seven and had 15 swinging strikes, so there were no issues there. This was a good first step, a sign that the injury may not linger.
Kevin Gausman — Looks like we're back to the same old Gausman. He had actually put together a decent stretch prior to Wednesday with three straight quality starts, but he's still been prone to big blowups like his eight-runs-in-one-inning showing against the Nationals. He's got a 5.56 ERA for the season, and just isn't someone you can rely on start to start.
Robbie Ray — Even when he's good, Ray will never give you many innings. Prior to Wednesdays' start, he hadn't gone six innings in any of his six prior starts, despite a 2.64 ERA in that span. He's useful, but more so for Roto leagues; if you can sell high in a QS or points league, you've still got time.