Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Looking for help on the mound in the wake of Jon Lester's injury

If you were hoping the pace of injuries was going to slow down as we get closer to the Fantasy playoffs that was just wishful thinking.

Cubs starter Jon Lester joined the likes  of Clayton Kershaw, David Price, Noah Syndergaard, James Paxton, Robbie Ray, and Lance McCullers (among others) on the shelf Thursday, as he left his start with a strained lat.

The severity of the injury isn't yet known, but this has the potential to be a season-ender, with just six weeks left on the calendar. If your playoffs start in the next week or two, you're going to have a difficult decision to make about Lester coming up, and replacements are going to be hard to come by.

Lester wasn't the only notable pitcher to go down with an injury Thursday, as White Sox phenom Reynaldo Lopez was pulled with a side injury in the fifth inning. Little is known of the severity of his injury as well, but that's two pitchers you were hoping could help out down the stretch who may not be there for you.

This is life in Fantasy baseball this deep into the season. Injuries pile up on top of one another, and pitchers might try to work their way through minor issues – everyone's got one in August – leading to more serious issues. Pitching help is hard enough to find without injuries, but it's probably an emergency for some of you at this point.

So, we'll focus on pitchers in Friday's waiver-wire column, in the hopes that we can find some help for you. A hitter  or two may slip in, but our primary focus is going to be finding some pitchers who can help make up for your losses.  

Dinelson Lamet's overall numbers aren't eye-popping, but he's pitched better than his 4.78 ERA suggests, and the results are starting to show that. For the season, Lamet ranks ninth among all pitchers with at least 70 innings with a 29.0 percent strikeout rate, and his 3.75 SIERA puts him in the same range as the likes of Brad Peacock or Rich Hill. Lamet racks up swinging strikes with his slider and fastball combination, and his swing-and-miss profile can help make up for an inability at times to keep the ball in the yard. Lamet's fly-ball tendencies will always limit his upside, but with a 2.37 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings over his last five innings, it isn't limiting it too much.
Blake Snell has talent; there's no doubt about that. However, the 25-year-old is still trying to figure out how to harness it, and there is a delicate balance to be struck here. His stuff can blow hitters away, but Snell often struggles to control it, leading to both command and control issues that have thus far torpedoed his major-league career. We're seeing some signs that he is figuring things out of late, however, as Snell has walked more than two batters just once since the All-Star break, and not at all in his last five starts. He has sacrificed strikeouts a bit in that span, but you'll take a 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio from someone this talented. The light is going to flick on at some point, and Snell is going to go on a dominant run. With his control issues starting to turn around, Snell might be on the verge of a big run, so why not take a flier?
We know Mike Montgomery well enough at this point not to expect him to be a difference maker, but we also know that he can be a solid option when called on. With Lester likely to miss some time, expect to see Montgomery in the rotation for the Cubs moving forward. He's always been better in the bullpen than as a starter, but Montgomery did have a five-start stretch in June with a 3.58 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings. He isn't anything special, but Montgomery is a useful option – especially with that RP eligibility in H2H leagues.
If strikeouts are a stand-in for upside, Aaron Slegers doesn't have much upside. He's the prototypical Twins pitching prospect, sporting a low-90's fastball and pinpoint control, to go with a 6.6 K/9 in the minors. He had just three strikeouts in his MLB debut Thursday, but still managed to limit the Indians to two runs over 6 1/3 innings of work. He might be strictly AL-only or matchup-dependent for Fantasy, but Slegers has managed a 3.46 ERA in his minor-league career, including a 3.18 mark at Triple-A this season, so don't be shocked if he has some nice moments.
It's always hard to know what to make of rehab assignment numbers, especially coming off a long layoff. If you think rehab assignment production is relevant at all, you'll want to stay away from Kevin Kiermaier entirely because he finished his work at Class A Charlotte just 3 for 24. However, Kiermaier has proven he can be a useful Fantasy option, sporting seven homers and 10 steals in just 62 games before suffering a hip fracture, and in 167 games over the last two seasons, he has hit .250 with 19 homers and 31 steals. That'll play in any Fantasy lineup, but especially makes him a priority in Roto leagues. Kiermaier is expected off the DL sometime this week, and is well worth an add.
Since being removed from the closer's role, Seung Hwan Oh has looked exactly like the guy we were hoping to see. In 12 innings since July 19, he has 13 strikeouts and no walks, while allowing just three earned runs, and racking up a whopping 16 percent swinging strike rate. Of course, he was a disaster before then, with a 4.17 ERA and 1.44 WHIP, so I don't blame you if you don't want to trust him. The ninth inning has been a problem for the Cardinals all season, and Trevor Rosenthal was just placed on the DL with an elbow issue, so Oh should get another shot. Let's see if he can hang on to the job this time.
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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