Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Replacing injured stars Chris Sale, Fernando Tatis and Sean Doolittle
If you lost one of your top players over the weekend, you may be feeling like all hope is lost. Scott White is here to help fill in the gaps.
Well, this is dumb. Let's just go play Fantasy Football.
I understand why you might feel that way after losing Chris Sale (elbow inflammation) or Fernando Tatis (stress reaction in back) to what look to be season-ending surgeries. And don't get me wrong: You should absolutely play Fantasy Football. It's the best!
But losing one of your best players doesn't have to spell the end of your Fantasy Baseball season. That's part of what differentiates baseball from football, in fact. Lineups are bigger and performances more variable over extended stretches. A scrub can perform like a stud for an entire month and vice versa. And let's be honest: The sting of losing Sale is less about what he's done than what you hoped he'd do going forward.
He won't now, most likely, and that closure is liberating in a way. You can play the field now instead of having your destiny so closely tied to his.
And as for Tatis, well, you may have heard from time to time he was performing over his head, being sustained by an inflated BABIP, and liable to bring you down in the long run. It was an argument that grew less convincing with time, but it was always in the back of your mind.
Point being you couldn't really know whether Sale and Tatis would deliver for you in crunch time. But now that you know they won't, you can do something about it — not as much as if your league's trade deadline hadn't already passed, but something.
No doubt, your team's ceiling is lower with the loss, but you wouldn't have made it this far if Sale or Tatis was all you had. You have other studs who can hopefully perform closer to the full extent of their potential down the stretch as you try nursing your team to the finish line in spite of what you've lost. And no doubt, your competition will lose something between now and then, too. We still have six weeks to go.
So let's consider some possibilities.
Ty France 3B
SD San Diego • #11 • Age: 25
Let's begin with Tatis' direct replacement in San Diego, Ty France, whose minor-league numbers are patently absurd, as you can see. Juiced ball or not, if a guy hits .400 in 76 games at any level, it's an accomplishment, and it's not like France was sacrificing power to do it. Being 25 and never really a top prospect, he's assured nothing behind these final six weeks, but because the Tatis injury means Luis Urias, the actual prospect, will have a place to play regardless, France has his chance now. True, his earlier stint as a part-timer didn't amount to much, but everyone should have a close eye on what he's doing now.
Nick Ahmed SS
ARI Arizona • #13 • Age: 29
As deep as shortstop has come to be, it's still slim pickings once you drop below the 80 percent ownership threshold, so chances are your best bet to replace Tatis is already on your roster. But if not, Nick Ahmed deserves a look. Previously regarded as a slap-hitting, glove-first guy, he surprised with 16 home runs last year and has now equaled that total with five homers in his past eight games. And with that, you may be surprised to learn he's the No. 13 shortstop in points leagues and No. 17 in categories. Low strikeout rate, the occasional stolen base — hey, you could do worse.
ATL Atlanta • #36 • Age: 34
Maybe it wasn't Sale or Tatis you lost over the weekend, but Sean Doolittle or even Scott Oberg, whose injury also looks like a season-ender. Well, Mark Melancon appears to be fully established as the Braves closer now, having recorded a save both Saturday and Sunday. Shane Greene also settled down over the weekend, so it's still a tight-rope walk for Melancon — and for that reason, Emilio Pagan and Brandon Workman would still be the preferred pickups, if they're available. Nonetheless, the Melancon is capable of navigating the role, if a little more dependent on luck than is ideal.
SD San Diego • #29 • Age: 27
Ah, but what about the Sale owners? Even for those with healthy rosters, starting pitcher has been the most difficult position to fill this year. Well, understand that a pitcher with Sale-like upside isn't going to appear out of the blue, but upside should still be what you're targeting. And to me, the clearest indicator of it is how often a pitcher fools a batter, coaxing a swing and miss. Dinelson Lamet went six innings Saturday for only the second time in eight starts since returning from Tommy John surgery, but his 16 swinging strikes in that one gives him a rate of 14.4 percent for the season. That'd be good for seventh if he had the innings to qualify, ranking two spots ahead of Sale and behind only Max Scherzer, Luis Castillo, Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Jacob deGrom and Lucas Giolito.
LAA L.A. Angels • #47 • Age: 23
A numbers of Fantasy players understandably gave up on Griffin Canning during a miserable July, but the rough patch immediately preceded a stint on the IL for elbow inflammation. His second start back Sunday was arguably his bet yet — he struck out eight over seven one-run innings — and as with Lamet, the swinging strikes suggest there's even more in store. With 19 Sunday, Canning's rate sits at 13.9 percent, which would place him 12th among qualifiers — right between Patrick Corbin and Stephen Strasburg. He should have enough innings in reserve to make it the rest of the way, too.
SF San Francisco • #5 • Age: 29
OK, so maybe Mike Yastrzemski doesn't fit the injury-replacement theme, but he did homer three times Friday. Even in a record-breaking year for homers, that's deserving of some mention, right? Fact is Yastrzemski has been on fire since the All-Star break, entering Sunday's game batting .312 (39 for 125) with 11 homers and a 1.026 OPS — and in a way that's not entirely fluky. The strikeout rate is way down, the fly-ball and hard-hit rates both up. His BABIP during that stretch is a perfectly reasonable .318. The numbers, in fact, look an awful lot like the ones the 28-year-old put up at Triple-A Sacramento prior to his promotion. You may be limited to using him on the road, though, given the venue he calls home.
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