Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Injuries opening up an opportunity for Michael Conforto?

Before every season, we look at every team and project their starting lineup. We try to figure out who will play where and, by extension, how much playing time every player will get. This is obviously important, but it's also important to remember that we aren't nearly as good at seeing into the future as we think we are.

Players get hurt. Players slump. Trades happen. We can project the opening day lineup, but what happens beyond that is impossible to predict. But, generally speaking, that sixth starter or fourth outfielder is probably going to get a chance at some point.

Take Michael Conforto. He obviously has the skill to be a difference maker, but the Mets just didn't have anywhere for him to play. The outfield was crowded, with Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson and Yoenis Cespedes all locked into their spots in the starting lineup. Whether they deserve to play over Conforto by merit alone, or were only there to start the season out of respect for their seniority and salary, there just wasn't an obvious place for Conforto to play.

Michael Conforto CF / N.Y. Mets
OWNED: 37%

Now? He got the start Thursday with Bruce sliding to first base to replace an injured Lucas Duda. Dude suffered a hyperextended left elbow Wednesday, and while it is not yet known how long he is likely to be sidelined, his injury is giving Conforto his first chance to play.

And, if Duda is back shortly, another avenue might have opened up for Conforto, with Yoenis Cespedes leaving Thursday's game with a hamstring injury. As with Duda, it isn't yet clear whether Cespedes will miss extensive time, but in the span of 24 hours, two potential playing time opportunities have opened up for Conforto. Just like that.

There's no guarantee Conforto will get a chance to play every day, and there's no guarantee he will hit if he does. However, we've seen him play at a high level before, and he's clearly a very talented hitter, so I'm willing to bet on the latter. And as for the former? Something tells me, in the long run, he'll get his chance. I want to be there when he does.   

Ryan Zimmerman Washington 1B
I feel like we've had Ryan Zimmerman in this column four or five times already this season, but it's not our fault he's underowned. Zimmerman entered the season healthy for the first time in years, and we're seeing exactly what the 32-year-old still can do. He won't keep up a 1.200-plus OPS, but he doesn't look anything like the guy who hit just .218/.272/.370 a year ago. He looks like a legitimate threat in the middle of the Nationals' order yet again, and with his fly-ball rate climbing to 38.1 percent, his power gains look like they could be sustainable. I understand the skepticism, but at some point, you have to just buy in.
Steven Souza Tampa Bay RF
Steven Souza has always had talent, but contact issues have limited his ability to tap into it. That hasn't been an issue for him so far this season, as he has cut his strikeout rate from 34.0 percent to 24.7 in the early going. It's only 17 games, but this is the first time since his rookie season he has even had a 17-game stretch with a strikeout rate this low, so it might be something new. Souza has cut his swinging strike rate and isn't chasing as many pitches outside of the zone, allowing him to tap into the raw power that has always been there. With three more extra-base hits Thursday, it's impossible to ignore what he's doing.
Wade Miley Baltimore SP
I'm going to institute a rule for the Waiver Wire column: If you strike out 10 batters in a game, you're getting a write up. Wade Miley has never been much more than an average strikeout pitcher, but he has been one so far this season, racking up 19 over his last two starts, including 11 Thursday against the Reds. He has had the good fortune of going against the Blue Jays and Reds over those two starts, but I'm not going to ignore these kind of results. They may not lead to anything in the long run, but he has added 1.5 MPH to his fastball, per PITCHf/x, so maybe there is something here.
Taylor Motter Seattle RF
Mitch Haniger isn't the only unexpected contributor for the Mariners this season. Rays castoff Taylor Motter homered Thursday, giving him three in 39 plate appearances in the early going. He has seen playing time all around the field so far this season, but most of his appearances so far have come with Jean Segura sidelined by a hamstring injury. Segura is expected back by the beginning of Fantasy Week 4 (April 24-30), so Motter might lose his spot there, but it also might be hard to keep him out of the lineup with how well he's hitting. Fortunately, he does have experience playing first base, and the Mariners have gotten precious little from veteran lefty masher Danny Valencia so far. Motter's flexibility might help keep him in the lineup, and it wouldn't be a total shock if he just started taking Valencia's job with the way both have been swinging.
Fantasy Writer

Though he can be found covering three different sports depending on the time of year, there is one unifying theme in how Chris Towers approaches sports; "Where's the evidence?" It doesn't matter how outlandish... Full Bio

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