It's Monday, and if that wasn't bad enough, we've got more significant injuries for Fantasy Baseball players to account for.
I'm Chris Towers, here to help catch you up on what you might have missed from this weekend's action, and unfortunately, that means some serious hitter injuries. The worst of them was suffered by Pete Alonso, who was placed on the IL with a bone bruise and sprain to his left wrist after being hit by a pitch, an injury that is expected to keep him out 3-4 weeks – though, honestly, that feels like a best-case scenario after the way he left last Thursday's game.
Vinnie Pasquantino also went on the IL Saturday with right shoulder instability, leaving the first base short of two top-12 options. If you're looking for a short-term option, Nick Pratto (29% rostered) is one of Scott White's top sleeper hitters for this week thanks to some solid matchups, while Owen Miller (50%) continues to hit well while providing some unexpected speed. But my top option would probably be Nolan Jones (48%), who hit another long homer this weekend and has real potential to be a contributor if Coors Field can help him overcome a high strikeout rate.
I also like Jones as a replacement for Yordan Alvarez, who was placed on the IL Friday with an oblique injury. He doesn't have a timetable at this point, and that's kind of the thing with oblique injuries – they tend to be trickier than most, with vague timetables and a lot of risk for re-injury if you try to rush back. I wouldn't be surprised if Alvarez was out until July.
We talked about more replacements for both first base and outfield on Monday's episode of Fantasy Baseball Today, with Marcell Ozuna, Adam Duvall, and Eddie Rosario all mentioned as options to consider. There will be more in the rest of today's newsletter, so let's get right to it, starting with this weekend's biggest performances:
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AJ Smith-Shawver, Braves – I'll be honest, I wasn't terribly impressed by Smith-Shawver in his first start. The fast-moving 20-year-old – he started the season at High-A – had just two strikeouts and six swinging strikes in 5.1 innings against the National. His fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s – below-average for a right-handed starter at 93.0 mph on average – and while his slider looks interesting, I'm not sure that's enough to thrive in the majors with his other pitches lagging behind. I still think there's plenty of long-term upside here, but he's clearly far from a finished product. Given how aggressive the Braves were in calling him up, I expected more, but Smith-Shawver looked pretty underwhelming to my eyes, and the various Stuff metrics back it up. I'm not dropping across the board, but I didn't see much to suggest he's a must-roster player.
Andrew Abbott, Reds – Abbott's been a bit more impressive than Smith-Shawver, and certainly more successful, allowing just six hits over 11.2 scoreless innings over his first two career starts. However, that's come with just 10 strikeouts and seven walks, so it's not like he's been overwhelmingly dominant – especially in contrast to Abbott's 90 strikeouts in 54 innings across two minor-league levels before his call-up. And, like Smith-Shawver, the early returns for the various stuff metrics aren't uniformly positive, though in this case, there seems to be more to like in the early going. I think there's a sell-high window for Abbott, given his absurd minor-league production and early success, but if you can't move him for a top-40 pitcher, I think there's enough here to expect him to be useful moving forward, if not a Cy Young candidate.
Zac Gallen, Diamondbacks – Gallen stumbled for one of the first times all season Sunday, giving up five runs over 5.2 innings to the Tigers. I'm not so concerned about the performance, but his fastball velocity was down to 92 mph, the lowest mark of his season by a full tick. There's no need to panic, but it's worth noting here for now.
Shohei Ohtani, Angels – I'm in a similar spot with Ohtani, whose fastball velocity was down 1.7 mph Friday from his season average, to 95.4, just under 1 mph below his previous season low. I still think Ohtani is a very good pitcher, but in his case, there's a bit more reason to be concerned than with Gallen, as he has a 4.50 ERA over seven starts since April 1. He's still striking out 32% of opposing hitters in that stretch, but he's been victimized by the fastball, while his season-long control problems have remained an issue – he walked five Friday. If you have to choose how to use him every week, Ohtani is a better bet as a hitter than a pitcher right now.
Tyler Glasnow, Rays – Glasnow wasn't overwhelming Friday, but he went six innings for the first time since coming back from an oblique injury, limiting a very good Rangers lineup to one run on a solo homer, the only hit he surrendered. He's struck out 20 batters and walked seven in 15.2 innings since coming back, and has mostly looked like himself. Glasnow's velocity isn't all the way back, and his fastball hasn't been as effective so far, but both of his breaking pitches sport whiff rates of 39% or better, and should continue to carry him to gaudy strikeout totals.
Logan Gilbert, Mariners – Gilbert got hit hard by the Angels Sunday, surrendering six earned runs on eight hits, with just two strikeouts and a whopping 11 hard-hit balls and a 95 mph average exit velocity allowed. His ERA for the season is up to 4.38, and I'm inclined to call Gilbert a buy-low candidate at this point. I've been less convinced than most that he's a burgeoning ace – he tends to get hit a bit too hard for someone who is a good, but not elite strikeout pitcher – but I do expect something more like his 3.41 FIP moving forward.
Ranger Suarez, Phillies – Suarez tossed his third quality start in a row Friday against the Dodgers, striking out eight over six one-run innings. His ERA for the season is still a pretty ugly 4.70, but the underlying numbers are mostly quite a bit better. I don't think Suarez has a ton of upside, but a 39% roster rate feels a bit low right now.
Garrett Whitlock, Red Sox – Consistency has been a huge issue for Whitlock, but he's turned in two good starts out of three since coming back from the IL, including on earned run over 6.1 innings against the Yankees Friday. He has 15 strikeouts to three walks in 16 innings since coming back from the IL, and he's been throwing his fastball less, which probably isn't a bad thing given how good his sweeper and changeup can be. I remain very intrigued by Whitlock's potential, even if I'm not necessarily ready to trust him.
Shane Bieber, Guardians – It's been a tough season for Bieber, and Sunday was arguably the first time he really looked like himself. He struck out nine over seven shutout innings against the Astros, racking up five swings and misses on both his cutter and slider and 14 overall. He didn't really change his pitch mix much, but maybe there's some kind of mechanical tweak here that helped fuel this performance – Bieber has been mum on any changes he's been making when asked, which isn't super helpful! I'm having a hard time pinning down how I feel about him – he's still a top-24 pitcher for me, but I don't necessarily think he's an ace anymore.
Bryce Elder, Braves – The Regression Monster has come for Elder, who has allowed nine earned runs over his past two starts – and, not to pat myself on the back too hard, but it coincided exactly with when I wrote that Elder was an obvious sell-high candidate. I'm not dropping him, but I hope you did at least try to trade him.
Blake Snell, Padres – Ah, Blake Snell. Maybe the single most frustrating pitcher in Fantasy put together is third consecutive quality start Sunday at Coors Field, when many of you likely parked him on your bench. Over his past four starts, Snell has 33 strikeouts to 10 walks while allowing two earned runs over 24 innings of work … and I have zero confidence that he'll be good the next time out. This is who Snell is – a mid-to-high-3.00s ERA pitcher with wild highs and lows. You've just gotta ride the ride once you're on it.
Braxton Garrett, Marlins – With Eury Perez sporting a 2.17 ERA through his first six starts, there's been some speculation that Garrett's rotation spot was at risk with Trevor Rogers nearing a return from the IL. Well, Garrett held the White Sox scoreless through 5.1 innings with nine strikeouts Sunday, and has a 2.89 ERA in seven starts since being tagged for 11 against the Braves May 3. I'm starting Garrett against the Nationals this week, at least.
Gunnar Henderson, Orioles – I've been hesitant to drop Henderson down in my rankings despite his dreadful start, and he's been tremendous since the calendar turned to June, hitting .458 with a 1.480 OPS in seven games. That includes a 462-foot bomb Sunday as part of another multi-hit game, his third in a row. Henderson still has superstar potential, and is available in 17% of CBS Fantasy leagues now. He's still a must-start player in my eyes.
Elly De La Cruz, Reds – De La Cruz is must-watch TV right now. Sure, he's struck out 10 times in his first 27 PA, however he's also registered the two hardest-hit balls, and the six fastest sprint speeds by a Reds player all season, plus the two hardest-thrown balls by an infielder in the majors all season. He's ludicrously tooled up, and it's led to a homer and three steals in his first six games. There will be some struggles – I mentioned the nearly two-strikeout-per-game average, right? – but the power-speed potential is through the roof. Someone needs to make a Twitter account that notifies us every time he's up to the plate, because I don't want to miss it.
Nolan Jones, Rockies – Here's the full list of players with multiple home runs of at least 470 feet this season: Nolan Jones. End of list. Yeah, he's also striking out 32% of the time, but that's an issue that at least might be mitigated by playing half his games in Coors Field. Jones has serious raw power along with a bit of speed – four steals in 15 games! – and given his prospect pedigree and minor-league track record – career .274/.388.500 line at Triple-A – he's worth rostering pretty much anywhere deeper than a 12-team points league.
Kerry Carpenter, Tigers – Carpenter came into the season with a bit of under-the-radar hype, and got off to an OK start – he hit just .217 in April, but still managed a .744 OPS thanks to solid power – before suffering a shoulder injury that knocked him out for a month and a half. He came back Friday and had multiple hits in each game against the Diamondbacks, going 8 for 12, and has pretty solid overall numbers for the season. Carpenter is no sure thing, but he did hit 30 homers with a manageable strikeout rate in the minors last season, so if you need OF help, he's certainly worth a look.
Royce Lewis, Twins – Lewis had hits in seven straight trips to the plate between Saturday and Sunday's games, pushing his average in his first 41 plate appearances to .317. He isn't walking, and his quality-of-contact metrics aren't incredibly strong, but Lewis continues to flash incredibly high upside at the major-league level. He needs to be rostered in all leagues.
Jordan Walker, Cardinals – The Cardinals tried to tweak Walker's swing when he got sent down in late-April, and his overall Triple-A numbers left a lot to be desired. However, he started to show signs of figuring it out as he went on, and now has hits in five straight games as of Sunday, including two homers in that stretch. The fact that Walker has already been sent down shows us he is no sure thing, but he's also showed the high-end physical tools we expected to see, and now he's starting to put them into play in games. The upside makes him worth rostering in all formats yet again.
Corbin Carroll, Diamondbacks – We knew Carroll had upside as a hitter, but it's fair to say he's blowing past expectations right now. He went deep twice Friday and has four homers in just nine June games, bringing his season total to 13, to go with 19 steals. He's hitting .308 with a 150-game pace of 116 runs, 32 homers, 81 RBI, and 47 steals. He's not just a leading Rookie of the Year contender – he's a legitimate NL MVP candidate. And he looks like a sure-fire 2024 Fantasy first-rounder.
Jose Abreu, Astros – Given his struggles, backed up by dreadful quality-of-contact metrics, I think the likeliest outcome is that Abreu is pretty much finished as a Fantasy contributor. But I'll just note that he homered in consecutive games this weekend, which coincided with a three-game multi-hit streak. Hey, it's something.
Jorge Soler, Marlins – Soler exited May in something of a slump, but he made up for it in a big way Saturday and Sunday against the White Sox, going 6 for 7 with a pair of walks and a two-homer game Sunday. He continues to strike out at a perfectly reasonable 25.5% rate while sporting a .478 expected wOBA on contact, similar numbers to his 48-homer 2019 season. He's actually right on a similar pace, and while I expect that to slow down eventually, I'm not particularly inclined to sell high – I think the perception of him still lags behind where he's at right now, as highlighted by a roster rate that remains stubbornly below 95%.
Ryan O'Hearn, Orioles – O'Hearn got some big-time revenge on the Royals Sunday, going 3 for 3 with four runs, two walks, and a homer. And he's now hitting .328/.380/.609 for the season. However, the Orioles are strictly using him as a platoon bat right now, so there's not really much upside here outside of AL-only or Daily lineup leagues.
Injuries, news and notes
Julio Urias did not start this weekend as his hamstring was still giving him issues after a bullpen session. He'll take a few more days off then throw another bullpen session before deciding when he'll go on a rehab assignment, so a return this week doesn't seem likely.
Chris Sale was transferred to the 60-day IL after he was diagnosed with a stress reaction in his left scapula. He'll be shut down for 3-4 weeks and is not eligible for activation until August 2. Sale was starting to figure it out before the injury, so this is a tough break. My preference is to keep him stashed, but I almost dropped Sale in one league where I needed the roster spot.
Carlos Rodon faced live hitters for the second time Sunday and will throw another live batting practice session Thursday before potentially beginning a minor-league rehab assignment. One note here: He hit Willie Calhoun in the elbow during that live batting practice session Sunday, though Calhoun was able to play through the issue, thankfully.
Lars Nootbaar felt lingering discomfort Thursday while trying to hit off a tee, a sign that his back is still an issue. He's been out since May 30 and doesn't seem particularly close to a return right now.
Andres Gimenez left Sunday due to left leg tightness, though it sounds like it was just a cramping issue.
Tyler O'Neill said Sunday that he "sees the light at the end of the tunnel" in his recovery from the lower back strain that has kept him on the IL since early May. He'll be re-evaluated Thursday, and could be back by the end of June.
Trevor Rogers was scratched from his rehab start Saturday due to discomfort in his non-throwing shoulder but could make another rehab start this week. This is, hopefully, just a speed bump for Rogers, but it likely only delays an impending decision the Marlins will have to make to their rotation. With Edward Cabrera, Braxton Garrett, and Eury Perez all pitching well right now, could they go with a six-man rotation when Rogers is back? Will they send Perez down to manage his innings? I would at least consider sending some sell-high offers out with Perez attached, because he likely only has 60 or so innings left this season seeing as how he's just 17 short of last season's career high already.
Kenta Maeda threw four scoreless innings in his latest rehab start at Triple-A Saturday, and he might be just one or two more turns away from returning. The Twins might have some tough decisions ahead of them as well, though with Louie Varland allowing 11 runs over his past 10.2 innings, it's a problem that could solve itself.
Bryce Miller had his start pushed back from Sunday to Monday, which now makes him a two-start pitcher against the Marlins and White Sox this week. He's been tagged for 15 runs in seven innings over his past two starts, but I still think I'd be willing to start him this week, at least in points leagues.
Cedric Mullins has begun baseball activities and is progressing well as he recovers from his groin strain. Maybe a return around the end of June isn't out of the question?
Eloy Jimenez has missed three straight with left calf soreness, though the hope is he won't require an IL stint.
Adam Duvall returned Friday and the Red Sox optioned Enmanuel Valdez back to Triple-A.
The Dodgers promoted pitching prospect Emmet Sheehan from Double-A to Triple-A. He has a 1.86 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and 88 strikeouts over 53.1 innings this season and could be in the mix for a call up by the summer if he stays on that kind of pace.
Alex Reyes underwent a second surgery on his right shoulder and will not pitch this season. He signed a one-year deal with the Dodgers this past offseason.
Sent to the IL
Liam Hendriks with right elbow inflammation. Expect Kendall Graveman to see the majority of save opportunities, though he blew the opportunity Sunday, giving up two earned runs in a loss to the Marlins.
Jorge Polanco with a hamstring strain. This strain is worse than his previous one, which forced him to miss two weeks in May. Edouard Julien was recalled by the Twins and is worth a look in deeper leagues after he hit .246/.333/.477 in 20 games in an earlier callup.
Graham Ashcraft with a left calf contusion. You can just go ahead and drop him if you need the roster space – he has a 6.78 ERA overall, with seven or more earned runs in four of his past seven starts.
Angels reliever Ben Joyce with ulnar neuritis, though an MRI showed no structural damage to his UCL. Joyce throws 103 mph, so there's always injury risk, especially with a violent motion like his. He's a long-term closer candidate, but doesn't have much more than deep AL-only appeal when healthy right now.
Phillies: Jose Alvarado worked the eighth inning in both of his first two appearances since coming back from his elbow injury, though he struggled a bit Sunday, walking two and allowing a run. Craig Kimbrel worked the ninth in a non-save situation Sunday and seems like he's still the closer here, though he probably doesn't have a ton of job security right now.
Nationals: Kyle Finnegan entered in the eighth with a one-run lead to face 4-5-6 hitters in the Braves lineup Friday, and gave up two runs (one earned) to take his fifth blown save. It seems like they were going to Hunter Harvey in the ninth, and it seems like he's probably the primary option here given Finnegan's struggles. I
Athletics: Don't look now, but the A's are actually getting save opportunities. May got a save Wednesday and Friday of last week, and was in line for the save before they scored three in the top of the ninth to create a non-save situation … which May subsequently turned into a save situation by giving up three walks and a hit. Sam Long came in to close it out, giving him his second save in a row. I'd guess May is the likely closer here, but the door is open for Long, seemingly.
Cardinals: Giovanny Gallegos got the final four outs for his eighth save Friday, after Ryan Helslely got the save Wednesday. It seems like this is a legitimate split situation, with two elite relievers who are both worth using in category-based leagues.
Cubs: Adbert Alzolay pitched a clean ninth for his third save Friday, with Mark Leiter pitching the seventh and eighth. Alzolay's save was the first for the Cubs since Leiter got a save June 2, so I don't think there's any clarity here.
Tigers: Alex Lange entered with two outs in the seventh Sunday, with runners on first and third and a three-run lead, picking up a strikeout to get out of the jam. Lange then started the eighth, allowed two hits and a run while recording two outs, with Tyler Holton getting the final out of the inning. Jason Foley started the 9th with a two-run lead, he gave up four runs, took his 2nd BS and 2nd loss. Lange remains the guy to roster here.
Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks took a two-run lead in the ninth Sunday, so Andrew Chafin came in for the save, gave up a triple and a walk, Scott McGough then closed it out for his 2nd save. McGough hasn't allowed an earned run over his past 11 appearances, with 22 strikeouts in 14.2 innings in that stretch. No pitcher has consecutive saves for the Diamondbacks since Miguel Castro in mid-May, so this one still feels pretty wide open.