Is this the end for our hero? Jesus Aguilar has made Ryan Braun (1B/OF, back strain) obsolete at first. Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain and Eric Thames/Domingo Santana/Keon Broxton have made Braun expendable in the outfield. He’s not helping his own case with a .235 average and a multitude of injuries. Stash or Trash: This is a tough trash because Braun has been one of the best fantasy contributors of the last decade, but I think we’re seeing the final step in his decline. He’s hurt, he’s under-performing and the Brewers have too many players at positions Braun can play. Replacement: Niko Goodrum (9.1%.) With a name that would make Captain Jack Sparrow smile, Goodrum has been quite the pirate himself stealing bases and stealing ABs all over the diamond for the Tigers. Goodrum has one of the more random multi-position eligibilities with 2B, 1B and OF. Since the start of July Goodrum has started nine games for the Tigers and he’s responded with a .421 average in 38 at-bats. He only has 1 HR and 1 SB in that time, but he has 8 and 7 on the year respectively. If he continues to get starts for the Tigers we might be looking at the sneakiest 15 HR/15 SB season of all time.
- Sean Doolittle, RP, Toe Inflammation: I’m reluctant to even list Doolittle here because this was a smart move by the Nationals to DL Doolittle over the All-Star Break. He should only miss 6 games and will come back refreshed. He’s been one of the best closers in the game this season with 22 saves, a 1.45 ERA and a 0.54 WHIP. The Nationals could go on a big run in the second half and Doolittle should benefit from a lot of save opportunities. Stash or Trash: Stash. Obvi. Replacement: Collin McHugh (13.3%.) It’s impossible to find a low-owned closer, so let me recommend a guy who has been so dominant on a team with a weird closing situation that he might find himself notching a few saves in the future. McHugh has transformed himself from the dictionary definition of a league-average starting pitcher to a lights-out ace option in the bullpen. He’s only allowed 4 ERs in 42 IP this year and has a spicy 11.8 K/9. Hector Rondon and Ken Giles have been trading closing opportunities and while Rondon has been dominant this year, if he turns back into the 4+ ERA pitcher he’s been in the past then there’s an opportunity for McHugh to sneak into the Astros closing conversation as well.
- Todd Frazier, 3B, Rib Cage Strain: Frazier is still owned in 15.8% of leagues, but that number should be more like 1.58% in my opinion. Like Braun we might be experiencing the swan song of Frazier. He still got close to 30 HRs in 2017, but with only 10 so far this year he could fail to reach 20. Among hitters with at least 220 ABs, Frazier’s .217 average is ranked 25th worst in the league. Without the power and speed — Frazier shouldn’t be on anyone’s team. Stash or Trash: Trash. Replacement: Maikel Franco (22.3%.) It’s unfortunately looking like Franco will never live up to that 2015 potential we were hoping for, but he’s having a pretty respectable season this year. Like Niko Goodrum, he’s hitting over .400 in July and his 11 HR/41 RBI aren’t bad considering he’s hitting in the bottom third of the Phillies line-up. The Phillies are currently tied for first in the NL East and I personally hope they don’t acquire a third basemen who would obviously cut into Franco’s ABs.
- Jake Junis, SP, Back Inflammation: Oohhh boy. If you’re reading this article for Jake Junis then I am sorry. This injury must’ve happened between June 3rd and June 8th because Junis’s pitching numbers have taken a turn for the embarrassing between those two dates. Before June 3rd: 12 starts, 74+ IP, 3.62 ERA, 71 Ks. Really not bad. After June 3rd: 5 starts, 27 IP, 9.33 ERA, 21 Ks. Really quite bad. Stash or Trash: I’d trash for now. His ownership is plummeting and I don’t think anyone else in your league is going to add him. If he looks revitalized in the minors then you can pick him up again. Replacement: Andrew Suarez (14.1%.) The Giants might’ve found something here with the former 2nd rounder. Little background on Suarez — In 2017 and 2017 he made 18 appearances with the Giants AAA Sacramento River Cats and had a 3.11 ERA in the Pacific Coast League. If you know anything about the Pacific Coast League you know it’s a hitters haven so a 3.11 ERA is really a 0.84 ERA. Suarez had a few rough early starts with the Giants leading to a 5.65 ERA after his first 7 starts. In the 8 starts since then he’s allowed only 12 ERs in 47+ IP with 40 K’s.
- Brian McCann, C, Strained Knee: Just like Braun and Frazier, add McCann to the list of mid-30’s former fantasy studs who might be reaching the end of their productive careers. Stash or Trash: McCann is hitting .206 and can’t seem to stay on the field this year. Trash. Replacement: Oh boy. Every time I see a catcher get placed on the DL a part of me dies inside. Do you have any idea how hard it is finding a viable replacement catcher option this year?! I’ll tell you how hard — it’s so hard that I’ve got no choice but to recommend Austin Romine. AUSTIN ROMINE! (6.0%.) Romine is the lead catching option for the Yankees and has actually performed pretty admirably, but is still AUSTIN ROMINE! At this low ownership all you’re expecting is for your catcher to just not kill your average and Romine is doing just that with a .280 this year. Hitting 8th in the stacked Yankees lineup, Romine could accidentally rack up the runs and RBI just by stepping up to the plate.
- Joe Panik, 2B, Groin Strain: Panik is about to miss at least three weeks with this injury. Panik has been a one category stud in his career and even that category has abandoned him this year (.240 average.) Stash or Trash: Trash. He’s doing nothing for you. Replacement: Jedd Gyorko (4.8%.) Don’t be too quick to forget that Gyorko hit 30 HRs in 2016 and 20 in 2017. Unfortunately, due to his inconsistency in 2018 his ABs have been limited. However, since the start of July Gyorko has been crushing the ball with a .407 average in 27 ABs with 2 HR and 7 RBI. You know the power Gyorko is capable of and if he’s about to go on a Gyorkian hot streak — you need to be the beneficiary.
- Yasiel Puig, OF, Strained Oblique: All of Puig’s injuries always seem to be classified under the category of him doing too much. This time he’s given himself a grade 1 oblique strain by swinging too hard. Stash or Trash: Stash. Puig’s numbers are down across the board, but he’s been hitting pretty solidly in recent weeks — unfortunately you’re going to be without him for a month I’m predicting. It’s an oblique — you know how these things go. Two weeks will turn into three, three into four, four into six etc. Replacement: Stephen Piscotty (21.5%.) Since the start of June Piscotty has low key been one of the hottest hitters in the league. Since June 1st he’s hitting .304 in 115 ABs with 19 runs, 7 HRs and 23 RBI. Throughout his career, July and August have been his best months so the best might still be yet to come for Piscotty.
- Brent Suter, SP, Forearm Tightness: While the Brewers are out here courting Manny Machado, I’m screaming at them to acquire another starting pitcher because throwing arm tightness has never lead to a pitcher performing better unless of course we’re talking about da God Henry Rowengartner. Stash or Trash: I’d trash Suter now — it wasn’t like he was setting the league on fire anyway. Suter has been up and down most of the season and didn’t pitch past the 6th inning until June 15th and now with this injury I can imagine he will be limited again upon his return (if he comes back at all.) Replacement: Zack Wheeler (20.8%.) In an NL-only league there are worse options than Wheeler. However, consider Wheeler a streaming option if you’re going that route without a lot of strong Suter replacement options. Wheeler’s next start comes against the Nationals who have actually struggled a bit against lefties. They’re ranked 18th in OPS against lefties on the year. At the beginning of the season, Wheeler faced the Nationals and held them to 3 ERs in 6 IP. It’s a scary match-up no doubt, but if you’re desperate you should give Wheeler a shot.
- Gleyber Torres, 2B/SS, Strained Hip: The golden boy of New York is already being scheduled for rehab games around July 18th by manager Aaron Boone so luckily we won’t be without the say-Gley kid for long. Stash or Trash: Stash. Come on people. 15 HRs, .905 OPS from a 21 year old? We should be so lucky! Fill In: Daniel Robertson (8.6%.) Robertson has come back from his own DL stint with a vengeance! Sure, 0 HRs, 0 SBs, but for an under-ten percent owned replacement option a guy with 16 hits in 53 ABs isn’t bad! Look, there aren’t a lot of great 2B options out there okay?! You take what you can get and what you’re gonna get is Daniel Robertson not completely ruining your week.
- Mike Zunino, C, Ankle Bone Bruise: Another catcher?! Why are you doing this to me Zunino?! Stash or Trash: Stash. I don’t care how disappointing his ratios are — have you seen the catcher waivers? It’s a sad, lonely place where happiness goes to die. Fill In: Austin Romine again. Please scroll up to the Brian McCann paragraph. Please. Please don’t make me recommend another catcher.