Well, they made it back. Their injuries weren't considered season-enders, and technically speaking, that's proven to be true.
But there's technically speaking and there's practically speaking, and practically speaking, I don't know that Luis Severino, Blake Snell and Brandon Woodruff still have time to make a relevant contribution in this Fantasy Baseball season.
I think at least Severino does. He got an actual rehab assignment in his recovery from a strained lat, which had him stretched out enough to throw four scoreless innings in his season debut Tuesday against the Angels. Of course, he was limited to about the same number of pitches as in his last rehab start, which seems strange given that the Yankees have every incentive to build him up to a full workload in time for the postseason, but he should be able to go the minimum required for a win next time out vs. Toronto — a matchup that of course presents him with an easy opportunity for the win.
Snell and Woodruff both also looked great Tuesday in returning from long-term absences (Snell for surgery to remove loose bodies from his elbow and Woodruff for a strained oblique), but each went just two innings, throwing 26 and 37 pitches, respectively. With only a week-and-a-half to go, every pitcher is down to his final two starts. If they're not pushing past two innings yet, their chances of reaching five are slim to none. Whatever starts remain for them will be abbreviated and winless, which means all they're going to provide for you is ratio help ... hopefully.
But there are more reliable ways of securing that, of course — namely high-end middle relievers. So if you're wondering if Snell and Woodruff are still deserving of a roster spot after all those weeks of stashing them, the cold truth is ... probably not. You might be making better use of it with one of these six:
Cavan Biggio 3B
TOR Toronto • #8 • Age: 26
Hitting for the cycle, as Cavan Biggio did Tuesday, is more of a statistical oddity than a true mark of greatness, but the fact he also stole two bases makes it one of the top single-game achievements for any hitter this season. He's 13 for 13 in steals now over basically half a season's time and has excelled in a number of other ways, most notably by having the second-best walk rate in baseball. Of course, taking so many pitches has its drawbacks, and Biggio's bloated strikeout rate has prevented him from hitting consistently enough to be of much use in mixed leagues. He seems to have a good thing working now, though, batting .522 (12 for 23) in his past six games.
OAK Oakland • #12 • Age: 27
A two-homer game in a spot start a week ago seemed to awaken the Athletics to the reality that 24-year-old September call-up Sean Murphy is already their best option behind the plate. He was in the lineup the next day, homering again, and has hit five doubles in three starts since then. His minor-league track record is spotty, yes, but in between injuries the past two years, he homered 19 times in 420 at-bats down there -- and with a low strikeout rate to boot. Seeing as there's no tomorrow to play for, it wouldn't be so wrong to turn to Murphy over a slumping Will Smith or Carson Kelly.
SD San Diego • #26 • Age: 32
Along that same line of thinking, Austin Nola is a profoundly interesting pickup right now -- one I must admit I've been sleeping on myself. Sure, he's a 29-year-old rookie with a lackluster minor-league track record, middling bat skills at best and some unfortunate platoon splits, but by golly, he's catcher-eligible. And he's playing every day for a Mariners team with nothing to lose. Since first assuming that role on July 20, he's the No. 5 catcher in Head-to-Head points leagues -- which shows you the value of regular playing time at a position where few get it -- and that was before his three-hit game (which included a home run and double) Tuesday.
SD San Diego • #2 • Age: 25
Between the season-ending injuries to Christian Yelich and Mike Trout, and Mookie Betts' potentially season-ending one, a number of highly competitive Fantasy Baseball owners need a miracle pickup for their outfield. Trent Grisham, Yelich's direct replacement in Milwaukee, probably isn't that, but he has an interesting skill set and is playing an interesting role. More specifically, he's batting leadoff for the Brewers, at least against right-handed pitchers, which is presently all they're scheduled to face next week. It means more at-bats and more run-scoring opportunities, which is especially notable given that he had a .407 on-base percentage (to go along with 26 homers and 12 steals) in 97 minor-league games this year.
Nico Hoerner 2B
CHC Chi. Cubs • #2 • Age: 24
I was pretty dismissive of Nico Hoerner, a former first-round pick of some prospect pedigree, when he was called up to replace an injured Javier Baez a little over a week ago. In my defense, he had hit only three homers in the minor leagues all season. He's already up to two in the majors. We've seen in recent years how prospects with a plus hit tool often come into more power once they reach the highest level, and Hoerner may be another example of that. There's no questioning the hit tool, which he has demonstrated with his high-contact rate and all-fields approach, though it's worth pointing out he's still not exactly elevating the ball. Still, if you're in a place where you need shortstop help all of a sudden, it's hard to imagine you'll find a better option on waivers.
Keone Kela RP
SD San Diego • #27 • Age: 28
For reasons you've surely read about elsewhere, the Pirates have a sudden need for a closer, and Keone Kela couldn't be better suited for the task. It was one he met ably for the Rangers before getting dealt last July, piling up 24 saves, and it's worth pointing out he has thoroughly dominated since his second stint for shoulder inflammation concluded in mid-August, allowing one run on three hits with 14 strikeouts in 10 innings. Obviously, there isn't time for him to get more than 3-4 saves the rest of the way, but he should get them with gusto.