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Early Season Fantasy Baseball Injury Replacements

How am I already screwed? This question is always on the minds of fantasy owners every year when their big stud goes down a mere week or two into the season. Whenever you spend a high draft pick or big auction dollars on a player and he gets hurt before he even gets going it sucks. A fantasy baseball injury can really suck, especially when it involves some of your more prized possessions. However, it isn’t time to give up – it’s time to step up! Full disclosure, you won’t be able to fully replace a stud’s production, there is a reason why you took him early. All you need to do is steer the proper course while your big hitter is out and make a few shrewd moves and you can ride the injury out. As the resident Dragon on the RSJ team, I know a thing or two about steering properly (have you ever seen a dragon miss their mark and eat shit on a landing… of course you haven’t)! I’m going to provide you with some injury replacement options that should help to alleviate some of the pain of lost studs you may be experiencing right now.

Gary Sanchez and Buster Posey owners:

Gary Sanchez is out for about a month (hopefully not more) with a biceps strain and Buster Posey is likely to be out for the next 7 days because of a beaning. Both players were top picks in a thin catcher pool so both are hard to replace but we’ll look at some options here. We’re really looking to replace categories here until the aforementioned hitters are able to return so for Posey we may want hitters that can put up a decent average (not common in a catcher) and for “Dirty” Sanchez we may want hitters with raw power.

I would recommend Sandy Leon as the top option to replace either player. He hit .310 last year with decent pop and has been red hot to start this season also. If Leon is somehow still sitting out there, run to pick him up. If you do not have the fortune of Leon, I would look to guys like Yadier Molina (likely owned) or Francisco Cervelli (not likely owned) as sources of batting average at the catcher position. They are both light on pop, but could keep your average afloat for the week and a half that Posey is likely to miss. From a power perspective – a guy like Russell Martin may be available in more shallow leagues and maybe Wellington Castillo as well. Each could hit 15-20 homers over the course of the season, and hopefully they provide a few during Sanchez’s absence. Neither will help your average but if you need some power from the catcher spot they’ll do. If you are extra desperate to replace some of Sanchez’s power and these other options are not available then take a look at Mike Zunino. He will be a huge drain on your average but has big power from a catcher. Remember also, it doesn’t matter where the stats come from so you can always replace Sanchez with a batting average guy like Cervelli and then pick up a player from another position that fills in your power if need be.

Trea Turner and Jean Segura owners:

Trea Turner is out for an indefinite amount of time with a hamstring injury (supposedly mild) and Jean Segura has a similarly titled “mild” strain and is also on the 10 day DL. Both Turner and Segura should return to action shortly, but you will need to do something to replace them while sidelined. Both are power and speed combos although in both cases I think they overachieved in the power department last season so really we’re going to look at cheap speed options that play middle infield.

For Turner and Segura owners the two players I keep coming back to at second base are Cesar Hernandez and Raul Mondesi. Hernandez can hit for a decent average and steal bases. I actually like him beyond just an injury replacement as I think he can be a decent middle infield option with okay numbers across the board. He has yet to steal a base this year but he stole 17 last year so he should pick some up soon and he at least won’t kill your average while waiting for Turner to return. Raul Mondesi sucks. Yeah I told you to pick him up and then I told you he sucks. Frankly, Mondesi can’t hit. He hit below .200 last year and he’s hitting below .200 this year; however, he can run. He already has 3 steals on the season and he’s getting fairly regular playing time. I only suggest Mondesi in deeper leagues and if you are willingly trading batting average for steals but if speed is all you want, he can do it. My last suggestion here is only if you are using Turner as your Middle Infielder and not as a 2B and only works in Yahoo leagues but Chris Owings is a guy who qualifies at Shortstop and Outfield in Yahoo leagues and he is on fire. Owings plays full time and displays plus speed with stolen 4 bases already this year. He has speed and decent pop. I would recommend picking Owings up regardless of Turner, but even more so if you need to fill your Middle Infield spot.

Matt Kemp and Jackie Bradley Jr. owners:

Matt Kemp and Jackie Bradley Jr. should both return shortly from their respective injuries. As most of you know, these are injuries where players tend to stay down longer than their hoped returns. In both cases, we are really just looking for outfield eligible players who can hit bombs.

My first suggestion would be Hunter Renfroe. He is a rookie for the Padres so doesn’t get a lot of notice but this guy has real power that should translate to 20-25 home runs at the major league level. He has already hit 2 this season. Renfroe does have a bit of a hole in his swing, so expect strikeouts when major league pitchers figure him out but just hope he can keep swinging well for the next few weeks while waiting for Kemp and Bradley to return. Jayson Werth is a player who also has 2 home runs this season (while hitting .360) and at least has a pretty solid history of hitting 20+ home runs for multiple seasons. Don’t hesitate to add him and ride out the hot streak. Lastly, I’d suggest Curtis Granderson. He has not hit well to start the season but he’s always streaky. Just grab him and hope you get lucky with a hot streak while you’re waiting on Kemp. He is always good for close to 30 home runs and hits in a decent Mets lineup so you could do worse (just be aware that batting average will not be your friend with this guy).

Drew Smyly and Rich Hill owners:

Drew Smyly and Rich Hill highlight the list of starting pitching names to hit the early season DL. Basically, there will always be pitchers who go down frequently and you have to be ready to jump on a streaking alternative.

If available, immediately grab Jharel Cotton. I extolled the virtues of Cotton here before the season started. I still feel the same way, although you may have to act fast after his recent nice start. I also like the upside of Dylan Bundy in Baltimore. He is poised to take a step up this year and he should be able to deliver decent Win totals with serviceable ratios, certainly not a bad option to try for a few weeks. Kendall Graveman and Brandon Finnegan have both been pitching well although I really don’t like either long-term. They both are too inconsistent with their command which eventually bites you in WHIP and ERA. However, both have started out strong with Graveman netting 2 wins and 12 Ks and Finnegan getting 1 win and 13 Ks so far through two starts each. They may be able to sustain their early success for a few more weeks while waiting for Hill and Smyly to come back and if so, I’d recommend trying to move them in a deal for an actual decent player.

If the injury bug bit you already, I’m sorry to hear it. It is hard not to feel screwed by the Fantasy Gods when you lose a big time player so early in the season. Just remember you can always overcome bad injuries with good management and a little good luck. Do you have any other injury concerns? Hit me up in the comments below and I’ll do what I can to help you make it through!

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