MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics
Robert Edwards / USA TODAY Sports

With so many pitcher injuries around baseball right now, I'm trying to figure out the best way to react as a Fantasy analyst. Scott White had some thoughts on what the latest injuries to Eury Perez, Shane Bieber, and Spencer Strider mean for the Fantasy landscape on Sunday, which you can check out here, and he focused mostly on what it means for those players, as well as what it might mean for Fantasy drafts next season.

But I'm more trying to figure out how to approach the position right now. Or, rather, for the rest of the season, though I'm inclined to just treat "right now" and "the rest of the season" as more or less the same thing at this point. If every pitcher is going to get hurt, does it even make sense to worry about the long-term? Shouldn't we just live in the moment? 

That's an overreaction, but I do think there's something to be said for worrying about the long-term value of any given pitcher a lot less than what they're doing right now. Which is part of why I decided to be pretty aggressive with some of the early-season breakout pitchers out there, as I wrote Monday afternoon. I've moved Jared Jones, Bryce Miller, and Mackenzie Gore all into my top-48 pitcher rankings, pretty significant moves for all three after just two starts. 

You can read about my thoughts on that trio, what they've done so far to justify a move up, and why I'm willing to buy in when I'm usually fairly slow to move early-season breakouts up here. It may blow up in my face, of course; Jones may walk six in his next start, or Gore's velocity may collapse, or Miller's new splitter may stop being effective. But, with so much attrition at the position already – including a new elbow injury for Framber Valdez Monday, because why not – the best way to make it through this season might be to aggressively play the hot hand to try to replace the studs we've already lost – not to mention the ones we'll surely lose in the future.

Monday's top waiver targets

Tyler Anderson, SP, Angels (26%)  – Even when he's at his best, as he was Monday, Anderson is never an especially exciting pitcher. He had just three strikeouts Monday against the Rays despite throwing seven shutout innings, for example. However, he's doing his crafty best so far, limiting hard contact and walks, just like he did when he was very good in 2022 with the Dodgers. His team context is not nearly as valuable as it was back then, but we've seen this formula work for Anderson in the recent past.  

Spencer Turnbull, SP, Phillies (49%) – Turnbull joined the sweeper revolution this spring, and so far it looks like a legitimate weapon for him. He's racked up a bunch of weak contact through his first two starts, and Monday against the Cardinals he used it as his primary pitch, throwing it 38% of the time and picking up six swinging strikes with it. It's been a few years since we've had much occasion to be interested in Turnbull, but with 13 strikeouts to one walk in his first 11 innings this season, maybe this new pitch is a good reason to pay attention. I'd be surprised if he was a must-start pitcher moving forward, but we can't ignore him after this start. 

Will Benson, OF, Reds (55%) – Benson hits the ball hard, he's a very good athlete, and he's playing a lot in a very good home park thanks to a bunch of injuries on the Reds roster. He's also striking out entirely too much, sporting a 36% strikeout rate through his first 39 plate appearances, which isn't ideal. Still, it's a very Fantasy friendly profile, as shown by his homer-and-steal combo Monday, and he could legitimately be a 20-homer, 30-steal guy if he plays every day this season. 

Brice Turang, 2B, Brewers (64%) – I've mostly written about Turang as a speed specialist, but it's worth considering that he might be a bit more than that. He had three hard-hit balls Monday, including his first homer of the season. Turang is never going to be a power hitter, but he has upped his average exit velocity to 89.2 mph this season from 85.5 mph in 2023, and he was pretty consistently an average-or-better hitter at relatively young ages in the minors, so there could be something here. The speed is still the main attraction as he has seven steals in nine games, but if he can just be an average-ish hitter, that makes the whole profile a lot more enticing. 

Ty France, 1B, Mariners (45%) – The power hasn't been there yet for France, who has just one extra-base hit despite hitting .379 through the first eight games of the season. But it feels like it's just a matter of time before he starts hitting the ball over the fence, because he's hitting it extremely hard right now – 95.7 mph average exit velocity and a 63.2% hard-hit rate are off-the charts marks. France went to Driveline to work on his bat speed this offseason, and we're seeing signs that it paid off, even if it hasn't shown up in the box score. Add him before it's too late.

Graham Ashcraft, SP, Reds  (49%) – I'm gonna be honest with you here: I'm not buying it with Ashcraft. I'll list him here because, well, there weren't a lot of viable waiver-wire targets from Monday's game, and he did have six strikeouts and 16 whiffs, the second-highest total of the day among all pitchers for the latter category. However, he also gave up a ton of hard contact en route to five earned runs on nine hits. He always feels like a pitcher who should be better than he is, but he just hasn't gotten the kind of consistent whiffs or weak contact you'd expect from his wicked stuff. Against the right matchups, he can be useful, but I'm not recommending him enthusiastically here.