Fantasy Baseball 2019: Top Replacements for Injured MLB Players for Week 12

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJune 21, 2019

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JUNE 18: Merrill Kelly #29 of the Arizona Diamondbacks delivers a pitch in the first inning of a MLB game against the Colorado Rockies at Chase Field on June 18, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Injuries are an unfortunate part of Major League Baseball that also cause a huge ripple effect in the fantasy realm. 

The waiver wire is the best friend to every fantasy owner because it offers a lifeline to stay afloat while waiting for an injured star to return.

In the case of players with long-term ailments, the waiver wire is your best chance to find value and continue the quest for a championship heading into the second half of the season. 

Looking at the recent wave of injuries around MLB, here are a few high-end players still available in most leagues fantasy owners can add to their roster for at least a short-term boost. 


Injured Player: Rich Hill, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Dodgers rotation was dealt a blow Wednesday night when Rich Hill was forced to leave his start against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the second inning with a forearm injury. 

Per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register, the pitcher said after the game his elbow had been bothering him for his previous two starts.

Hill has been terrific for the Dodgers and fantasy owners with a 2.55 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 61 strikeouts in 53 innings this season. Injuries are nothing new for the 39-year-old, who hasn't appeared in more than 25 games since 2013 when he was pitching exclusively out of the bullpen.

While fantasy owners wait for Hill to get back to full strength, one under-the-radar option to target is Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Merrill Kelly. 

He has had a long journey to MLB, starting with being drafted three different times and spending four years in the Tampa Bay Rays' system. He played four seasons with the SK Wyverns in South Korea before signing a two-year deal with Arizona last December. 

Now 30 years old, Kelly has been solid with a 3.99 ERA, 68 strikeouts and a 1.27 WHIP in 15 starts. While those numbers don't jump off the stat sheet, he's been much better in June. The Texas native has a 2.22 ERA and 23 strikeouts to two walks in four starts this month. 

Kelly isn't a big strikeout guy, but he is going to be around the strike zone and does a good job keeping the ball in the park (12 homers allowed in 88 innings) to be effective as a back-end fantasy guy. He's available in 64 percent of Yahoo leagues and 75 percent of ESPN leagues.


Injured Player: Justin Smoak, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays

BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 12:  Justin Smoak #14 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on during a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on June 12, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The Toronto Blue Jays announced on Tuesday that first baseman Justin Smoak was placed on the 10-day injured list with a strained left quad. 

An official timetable for his return hasn't been established, but losing his bat is significant for fantasy owners. He's only hitting .225 in 62 games, but he's been productive in other ways with 12 homers, 34 RBI and 29 runs scored. 

If Smoak was holding down the utility spot in your lineup, a strong replacement candidate is New York Mets third baseman Todd Frazier. They are similar players in some ways—low batting average and solid power output. 

Frazier has shown no lingering effects from his stint on the injured list in April due to a strained oblique. He is hitting .255/.344/.410 with six homers, 24 RBI and 20 runs scored in 50 games since coming back. 

One encouraging sign for the 33-year-old is how he's fared since his batting average hit a season-low .143 on May 11. His slash line of .304/.414/.473 in 34 games from May 14 through June 19 is in line with what Rafael Devers of the Boston Red Sox has done all year (.307/.360/.503).

Frazier is only owned in three percent of ESPN and Yahoo leagues right now. He's readily available to anyone in need of a short-term answer at third base or the utility spot in the lineup. 


Wild Card: Zack Collins, C, Chicago White Sox

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 27:  Zach Collins #86 of the Chicago White Sox catches against the Cincinnati Reds on February 27, 2019 at Camelback Ranch in Glendale Arizona.  (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Ron Vesely/Getty Images

While there isn't necessarily a key injury at catcher that should cause anyone to panic, the position is in such dire straits that it's always worth keeping an eye on interesting developments behind the dish. 

Unless you were fortunate enough to get a top-tier catcher like Gary Sanchez, Yasmani Grandal, J.T. Realmuto or Willson Contreras, odds are good you're struggling to find production at the position. There have been some pleasant surprises like Roberto Perez and Robinson Chirinos who have added depth. 

But there's certainly a lack of depth that makes any catching prospect who gets called up worth watching. The latest example is Zack Collins of the Chicago White Sox. The 10th overall pick in the 2016 MLB draft made his debut as a pinch-hitter on Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs. 

Collins was having a solid season in Triple-A before his promotion. He hit .250/.374/.482 with nine homers in 164 at-bats with the Charlotte Knights. 

Per MLB.com's scouting report, the 24-year-old's best tool is above-average power and his "combination of bat speed, strength and launch angle with his left-handed swing gives him prodigious power to all fields."

Being a patient hitter allows Collins to work deep counts, but he's struggled to hit for average throughout his professional career (.234 average in 324 minor-league games). 

As long as he is able to make enough contact, there's enough power in his swing to generate 10-15 homers. His playing time behind the plate could be limited because James McCann is having a terrific season, but Yonder Alonso's struggles at DH (.586 OPS) could give him an extended look for manager Rick Renteria. 

Collins is available in 98 percent of Yahoo leagues and 99 percent of ESPN leagues. His ability to be used at catcher on your roster gives him enough upside to be worth a look, at least for a couple of weeks as the White Sox determine his playing time. 


Fantasy availability via FantasyPros.com