There’s nothing more frustrating in fantasy baseball than injuries to your studs, and nowhere is that magnified to the extent that it is in the deep-league world. Sure, it may not be fun or exciting having to replace Christian Yelich with Nick Markakis for a couple weeks in a standard league, but just think about how us deep-leaguers feel. I’ve got a few NL-only leagues where I need to replace some combination of Yelich, Wil Myers, and Eugenio Suarez… where the top “hitters” on the waiver wire are Greg Garcia and Mike Tauchman. I know that situations like this are why many people don’t understand the appeal of deep leagues in the first place, and I get it: I have at least one league where, due mostly to injuries (and perhaps one or two bad decisions ;), I am pretty much dead in the water for the season in the second week of April. But I shall press on, despite the fact that the free agent pool in most leagues is about as drained and ugly as it will be all year. All of the early surprise performers have been scooped up, and there hasn’t been time yet for new faces of deep-league hope to emerge. The following list isn’t pretty or snazzy, but it’s what we’ve got: a handful of names to consider for the injury-riddled — or otherwise desperate — in AL-only, NL-only, and other deep leagues.
Amir Garrett. Since I couldn’t come up with a worthy Franchy Cordero lede, let’s start with the man we’ve all heard my good friend Grey Albright refer to as Muslim Mrs. Garrett. If he already has a Razzball nickname, how bad can he be? Garrett actually comes up on CBS’ “most dropped” list this week, since I assume several folks took a flyer on him thinking he’d get a shot in the injury-riddled/generally sucky Reds rotation, only to cut bait when they saw him banished to the bullpen. Garrett’s 2017 with the Reds was an absolute disaster, and who knows what the Reds will do with him this year. But he had a seriously impressive spring, has looked great so far this year in an albeit-miniscule sample size (6 innings, no runs, 3 hits, 1 walk, 7 Ks), and definitely falls into the post-hype prospect/out to prove it category in my opinion, which at least puts him on my watch list.
Franchy Cordero. Wil Myers sounds like he’ll be parked on the DL for a while longer, and now he’s been joined by another third of the Padres outfield, Manny Margot. Cordero went 7 for 17 (with a homer and two steals) on his minor league rehab assignment recovering from a groin injury, and he’s suddenly batting leadoff for the big club on Wednesday. Last year, Franchy had 3 homers and a steal in his 30-game cup of coffee with the Padres after a .326, 17/15 season at AAA. (Note: Cordero went yard in Colorado Wednesday, and his ownership has already gone from 1% to 7% in CBS leagues since I first wrote this… yeah, his jack was in Colorado, but I’m feeling like he’s the one guy on this list who has even a shot at mixed-league value this year…if you want to ride the Franchy train, best be jumping on now).
Pedro Severino. Called up by the Nationals after Matt Wieters got hurt. Severino has been busy starting the season 5-12 with a stolen base, while the Nats other catcher, Miguel Montero, has been busy taking an 0 for 11, going on paternity leave, and being 34 years old. Severino may head right back to the minors in a few days if Wieters is able to recover from his oblique issue on schedule, but seems like a situation for deep 2-catcher/NL-only types to monitor. (Hmm, as of Wednesday, evidently Montero has been DFA’d, and Severino will be sticking around as the Nats #2 catcher… interesting. Well, interesting to the one person on the planet who was in the middle of writing a blurb about Pedro Severino when this earth-shattering news broke!)
Miguel Rojas. With J.T. Riddle starting the year on the DL, Rojas seems to be the everyday shortstop for the Florida Marlins (Damn you, injuries! Such a travesty that we didn’t get to see that epic battle play out this spring!) To say there’s a ton of hitting upside here might be a bit of an overstatement, but, well… Rojas does have a homer and a steal. You know who else has exactly one homer and one steal so far this year? Well, several guys, including Nolan Arenado, as well as Paul Goldschmidt and Jose Altuve… combined! Rojas is on pace to be a potential fantasy first-rounder next year!! (*Okay, now Rojas has gone and ruined my whole post by hitting another homer just as I was submitting this! SO rude, those first-rounder types!)
A.J. Minter. Minter was a popular NL-only pick in the pre-season, as most expected Arodys Vizcaino’s hold on the Braves closer role to be shaky at best. After two weeks of being used sparingly and not racking up a single strikeout, however, I noticed Minter hitting the waiver wire in a few of my leagues. If he’s available in yours and you need a reliever who should (finally) start collecting strikeouts and may be in the saves mix sooner rather than later, give Minter a look-see… Vizcaino blew another save Wednesday, while all Minter did was pitch a perfect 8th inning by striking out the side (and two-thirds of that side was Trea Turner and Bryce Harper).
Yonny Chirinos. So far, the star of Tampa Bay’s “every fifth game started by the bullpen” plan. It’s early, but hard not to notice a guy who’s started the season with nine shutout innings, with 4 hits, a walk, and 7 strikeouts. Update: okay, after Wednesday, let’s add 5 1/3 more scoreless innings with 5 more punch-outs… so he’s another guy whose ownership is heading upwards in a hurry. I’m starting to feel like things can only go down from here, but Chirinos put up some beyond-solid numbers as a Durham Bull last year, so I’m keeping an eye on him.
Steve Pearce. I was a little surprised to see that Pearce is only owned in 4% of CBS leagues given his surprisingly strong start (3 homers and a .286 average in 21 at bats). One of those homers came Monday in a righty-righty matchup as Pearce started over Randall Grichuk. With Kendrys Morales DL’d with a bad hammy, the Blue Jays appear willing to play Pearce while he’s hot, and anyone in a deep league who is desperate for a little power might want to consider doing so as well.
Pedro Alvarez. I told you the wire was thin! I mean, I was going to write about Yolmer Sanchez this week, but he’s already rocketed up to 20% 22% owned in CBS leagues, way past the truly deep-league threshold. Anyway, Alvarez seems to be on the good side of a DH platoon while the Orioles await Mark Trumbo’s return, and is smack dab in the middle of the lineup Wednesday, batting fifth. He’s already hit one bomb in 2018 and could pop a couple more while he has the opportunity.
Rajai Davis. Seemed expendable, even by his standards, when Michael Brantley came off the DL… but Brantley was already given a day off Monday after playing a whopping 3 games in a row, while Davis started in left field and batted, of course, sixth. (WTH? Are major league managers having some kind of underground contest to see who can win a game with the most ridiculous lineup decision of the day?) Anyhoo, the fragile Mr. Brantley may get treated with kid gloves and extra rest this year, and you know the deal with Rajai… he’s a one-category player at best, but he’s already got 3 steals on the season for some potential deep-league SAGNOF fun for the stolen base-deprived.