bryce-harper.jpg

Two of the best at their position are all thumbs right now.

That's what they'll be attending to, anyway, for the next couple months. Reigning home run champ Salvador Perez underwent surgery over the weekend to repair a torn UCL in his left thumb, the one that already put him on the IL once this season. He'll miss the next eight weeks. Meanwhile, reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper fractured his left thumb when he was hit by a pitch Saturday. He could miss as many as eight weeks himself.

Those are two big blows in Fantasy -- especially Harper, who was again putting up easy first-round numbers despite playing with UCL damage in his elbow. Perez had been more of a disappointment, but as long as he was healthy, it was only a matter of time before he brought the wrecking ball. It's not like you could do much better at catcher regardless.

But now, you'll have to try. In some ways, replacing Perez will be easier than replacing Harper because you were already accustomed to a modest level of production (even if there was the hope for more). I'll offer up a few replacements at each position before getting into our usual weekend fare.

First, catcher:

  • The most straightforward solution would be Perez's direct replacement in Kansas City, MJ Melendez, but he's already 73 percent rostered in CBS Sports leagues. He and Perez had been splitting time between catcher and DH, which goes to show you his offensive potential. Though he's slumped recently, the underlying indicators remain strong.
  • Another preseason prospect, Gabriel Moreno, was called up more recently and is still fairly available, being only 52 percent rostered. He's been playing less consistently but could send Alejandro Kirk to DH more often if he catches fire. The power has been slow to come around, but the hit tool is as good as advertised. Most impressively, he has struck out just twice in 10 games.
  • William Contreras (69 percent rostered) and Mitch Garver (60 percent) remain exciting possibilities, but each comes with baggage. Contreras hasn't been playing as much over the past couple weeks with Marcell Ozuna settling in at DH and Travis d'Arnaud at catcher. Garver is limited to DH duties until he has surgery to correct a forearm issue, and his attempts to play through it may be inhibiting him at the plate.
  • Among those more widely available, Christian Vazquez (57 percent) is a boring but reliable choice, making contact at a high rate while taking on a big workload for the Red Sox. Jose Trevino (34 percent) has been surprisingly productive for the Yankees and could remain so in a strong lineup. Jorge Alfaro (26 percent) has begun to live up to his power potential with the Padres, but he remains an erratic hitter with sporadic playing time.

Next, outfield:

  • Alex Kirilloff, still just 62 percent rostered, is the clear upside play. A bad wrist has stifled his production in previous big-league stints, but he was obliterating Triple-A pitching prior to his recent call-up. That call-up appears to have slowed his momentum, but he has a big eight-game week coming up and is the best hope of any possible waiver claim to put up stud numbers.
  • The Statcast numbers -- namely the 95th percentile average exit velocity -- have been excellent for Tommy Pham all along, and the forward-facing numbers have begun to measure up lately. He's batting .265 with five homers, two steals and an .829 OPS so far in June and remains just 63 percent rostered.
  • Rookie Oscar Gonzalez has hit a combined 40 homers in 162 games between two minor-league stops the past two years, and he has made plenty of hard contact since reaching the majors in late May. So far, he has just two home runs to show for it, which may be why he's just 33 percent rostered, but as long as he keeps the strikeouts in check (he has so far), more will come. It's worth pointing out he doesn't walk much either.

Finally, here are the players who made a case to be added this weekend ...

Possible waiver wire pickups
NYM N.Y. Mets • #99 • Age: 30
Rostered
75%
Friday at Marlins
INN
6
H
8
ER
3
BB
2
K
5
Walker continues to raise expectations as a bat-misser, registering 15 swinging strikes in his latest outing Friday at Marlins. The end result was a modest quality start with five strikeouts in six innings, but after his combined 19 strikeouts in his previous two starts, the swinging-strike total is noteworthy. Fading his fastball may be largely to credit. He threw more splitters and sliders in this one. It's likely just a blip, but seeing as he's done a fine job keeping runs off the board without much help in the strikeout department over the years, this recent trend should at least raise your curiosity.
CIN Cincinnati • #51 • Age: 24
Rostered
48%
Friday at Giants
INN
8
H
6
ER
2
BB
0
K
8
Just when you thought you were out, Ashcraft pulls you back in, rebounding from two poor starts with an absolute gem against a stout Giants lineup Friday. HIs eight innings and eight strikeouts were the most he's had in seven starts, yet he already has four quality starts, allowing a combined three earned runs between them. The key to his turnaround was emphasizing his best pitch, a cutter that peaks at 100 mph and generates plenty of weak contact. He threw it 67 percent of the time instead of his usual 45 percent. His strikeouts are lacking, but with a ground-ball rate pushing 60 percent, the rookie may continue to thrive regardless.
KC Kansas City • #9 • Age: 24
Rostered
34%
2022 Minors
AVG
.280
HR
18
OPS
.948
AB
250
BB
37
K
36
You've heard Salvador Perez will miss the next eight weeks after surgery on his thumb? Chances are that's Pasquantino's long-awaited ticket to the majors. It hasn't happened just yet, but where once was a roadblock there's now an open lane. The Royals no longer need to keep the DH spot free to start rookie catcher MJ Melendez alongside Perez. Pasquantino has had a quiet June at Triple-A, batting .232 with a .689, but he also has twice as many walks (12) as strikeouts (six) for the month. He's an incredibly disciplined hitter for one so powerful and worth stashing away for the inevitable call-up.
BOS Boston • #40 • Age: 25
Rostered
33%
2022 Stats
AVG
.327
HR
0
3B
2
2B
5
SB
4
AB
52
His vaccination status will sideline him for the start of this week in Toronto, but overall, Duran looks like he's here to stay. The 25-year-old rookie, who got plenty of play last year as well, has hit leadoff in 10 of the Red Sox's past 11 games, batting .333 (13 for 39) with five doubles, a triple, four stolen bases and just six strikeouts compared to four walks. Two of those steals came on a four-hit day Saturday. He's exactly the table-setter the Red Sox have been lacking ahead of Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts, making him an exciting pickup if you need help in batting average, runs and especially stolen bases.
TB Tampa Bay • #17 • Age: 23
Rostered
20%
2022 Stats
AVG
.255
HR
10
OPS
.927
AB
98
BB
8
K
15
It just keeps getting better for Paredes, who had back-to-back three-hit games over the weekend, homering once and doubling twice. This latest outburst comes after a three-homer game earlier in the week. His exit velocities aren't what you'd expect for a player with 10 homers in less than 100 at-bats, and it probably goes without saying he's performing over his head. But he has an excellent pull rate on fly balls, which is one way to maximize power output, and he makes a ton of contact, striking out less than 15 percent of the time. He'd be easier to recommend if we could trust the Rays to stick with him, but that's not exactly their MO.
TEX Texas • #47 • Age: 25
Rostered
6%
2022 Minors
AVG
.266
HR
4
SB
8
OBP
.370
OPS
.771
AB
177
Smith was the prospect the Rangers originally targeted to step in at third base in late May, but then he sprained his shoulder, paving the way for Ezequiel Duran, who himself performed admirably. Duran's performance figured to relegate Smith to a platoon role once he returned, but instead, the Rangers optioned Duran to the minors over the weekend. The 24-year-old Smith has all the runway in the world again and may even get to bat leadoff, as he did Sunday, walking twice. Two things he was known for doing in the minors, walking and stealing bases, would suit him nicely in that spot.