Injuries have probably been the defining story of this Fantasy Baseball season. If not the whole season, certainly the last month-plus or so, as we've seen a number of big-name stars hit the IL. In fact, if you've had to play the waiver wire more aggressively than usual, that's probably why.
It's been a pretty relentless string of injuries, and Nick Madrigal and Alex Kiriloff were the latest to get bit by the injury bug Thursday. Kiriloff suffered a low-grade ankle sprain and the hope is he can play through it, but Madrigal was placed on the 60-day IL with his right hamstring injury, putting him out of commission until at least early August. It's just been that kind of season -- according to Derek Rhoads of BaseballProspectus.com, there hasn't been a week all season where more players have come off the IL than have been placed on it -- we've been losing playing faster than they are returning all season:
There has been a lot of bad news, so today I'll bring some good news. We've got a bunch of Fantasy relevant players working their back from injuries, perhaps none more notable than Byron Buxton, who has been on the IL with a hip injury since early May. He made his rehab assignment debut Tuesday, going 2 for 3 for Triple-A St. Paul on Tuesday and then going 2 for 2 with a pair of homers and an outfield assist Thursday. Buxton was playing at an MVP level before the injury, and he's shown no ill effects in his rehab assignment yet, which is a great sign -- he could be back in the next few days to give your team a boost.
Before today's top waiver-wire targets, here are some more injury updates from players working their way back from injuries. Hopefully this is the start of a return to something resembling normalcy on the injury front:
- Kenta Maeda (groin) threw four innings of one-run ball at Triple-A Wednesday. Maedea struck out five in the outing, the first of his rehab schedule. He will likely make at least one more start, though it's possible he returns from the IL before then. It's been a tough season for Maeda, but hopefully he can return to pitching at a high level once he's healthy.
- Trevor Rosenthal (shoulder) is progressing "rapidly" through his strength program. I was a bit worried Rosenthal might be done for the season after undergoing thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in early April, but the A's apparently think he could return in August. He was penciled in as the closer and could return to that role and make an impact down the stretch.
- Ramon Laureano (hip) went through a full workout prior to Thursday's game, including batting practice, base-running drills, and work in the outfield. He told reporters he might need one or two games at Triple-A Las Vegas before he is ready to return, but it looks like that could be imminent.
- Luke Voit (oblique) could begin a rehab assignment Sunday. Oblique injuries tend to be pretty tricky, but it looks like Voit may be able to return after just a few weeks. That's good news, because we feared his absence may extend into July. Now, it looks like it might be some time next week.
- Cavan Biggio (neck) could return this weekend. Biggio is just 2 for 11 on his rehab assignment, but it sounds like he will rejoin the team in Boston and could be back in the lineup in the next few days. Biggio hit just .205/.315/.315 in 39 games before the injury and isn't a must-start when he returns.
- Didi Gregorius (elbow) began a minor-league rehab assignment. He'll likely need at least a few games to get back up to speed. Gregorius can be a viable starting Fantasy option when healthy, despite his slow start in 2021.
- Mike Yastrzemski (thumb) is on track to return this weekend: Yastrzemski is eligible to return Saturday and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him back. He's also struggled to open the season, so hopefully a little breather will do him well.
Here's who we're looking at on the waiver wire heading into the weekend:
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Willy Adames SS
MIL Milwaukee • #27 • Age: 25
Adames continues to hit well since the trade from the Rays. He went 2 for 5 with a pair of doubles and an RBI Thursday, and is now hitting .308 with three homers and 12 RBI in 18 games, with an OPS near .900. And it may not be a fluke; Adames has hit .293/.366/.497 in his career away from Tropicana Field, with a near 30-homer pace. That's pretty dang close to what he's managed so far since the trade, which is a pretty good sign that there is something here. It's worth picking up the former top-25 prospect just to see if this is for real.
COL Colorado • #7 • Age: 24
Speaking of recent top prospects, Rodgers is showing signs of life here lately. He entered Thursday's game against the Marlins as a pinch hitter and ended up going 2 for 2 with a home run and a pair of RBI and has now hit safely in six of his last seven appearances, going 9 for 19 with two homers and only three strikeouts in that stretch. Rodgers was hitless over his previous 23 PA so it's good to see him getting on a roll. He's a talented player with a legitimate five-tool skill set, and if this hot streak earns him more consistent playing time, that'll make Rodgers a very intriguing option.
DET Detroit • #7 • Age: 29
Schoop has been a pretty consistent player over the years, sporting an OPS of at least .777 in four of the past six seasons. He hasn't quite hit that point yet in 2021, but that's mostly due to an unusually slow start that saw Schoop sporting an OPS below .500 35 games into the season. After going 3 for 4 with a homer Thursday against the Mariners, Schoop is hitting .358 with a 1.100 OPS over the past 24 games. Schoop isn't the type of middle infielder who will win you your Fantasy league, but he does enough to warrant a starting spot in a 12-team Roto league.
Daz Cameron CF
DET Detroit • #41 • Age: 24
It's been a while since Cameron was considered a significant prospect because issues making contact have plagued him throughout his career -- including in his brief MLB debut in 2020, when he struck out 19 times in 57 at-bats and batted .193. Cameron could be a solid source of speed with decent power if he ever figured out the contact issues, and he's shown promising signs in that regard so far, striking out just 19 times in 99 plate appearances in the minors -- despite coming off a sprained UCL in his elbow during the offseason and then a fractured wrist at the alternate training site. He's healthy now and has a chance to show those improvements are for real. Cameron is still just an AL-only or super-deep league stash, but it'll be worth watching him to see if those improvements do stick.
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