Much to the chagrin of fantasy baseball players everywhere, there's no option to turn off MLB injuries.
Just about every team—real and fantasy alike—has been besieged by ailments through the season's opening three months. Some stars are irreplaceable, but managers have little choice but to settle for the best alternative. Others, meanwhile, have results easier to replicate off the waiver wire.
On the bright side, Jose Altuve, George Springer, Aaron Judge and Joey Gallo have all recently returned from the injured list. Mike Clevinger, Noah Syndergaard, Caleb Smith are slated to soon provide solace to those hurting on the pitching front. Unfortunately, they're simply getting replaced with a new wave of sidelined performers.
Even if they're not all rest-of-season mainstays, the players noted below can help fill the void for these injured stars as short-term stopgaps.
Giancarlo Stanton, OF, New York Yankees
Giancarlo Stanton's return didn't last long. A week after coming back from a biceps strain, with his return delayed by shoulder and calf injuries, the star slugger injured his knee while sliding into third base.
Another lengthy absence is in the cards. According to ESPN's Coley Harvey, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman identified August as "the sweet spot" for his return.
Stanton, who crushed 59 home runs during his 2017 NL MVP campaign, will now pass the All-Star break with just one long ball. While no free agents brandish his same power ceiling, there are at least viable options to recoup some lost power.
Jorge Soler (47 percent) and Franmil Reyes (41 percent) remain rostered in under half of Yahoo leagues despite respectively swatting 21 and 22 homers. Either outfielder can stick around for the long haul.
Per Sportsnet's Arden Zwelling, Justin Smoak could return from a quad injury Friday. While he was batting just .225, the underlying numbers hinted at a forthcoming breakthrough.
The 32-year-old was also setting personal bests in strikeout (16.5 percent) and walk (18.0 percent) rate while swinging at the fewest pitches off the plate in his 10-year career.
These developments show in the Statcast data, per Baseball Savant, as he went on the shelf with a stellar .410 expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA).
Adding an impetus to grab Smoak immediately if activated this weekend, the Toronto Blue Jays play seven games culminating in a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles next week. Those needing a quick power fix can also turn to Toronto outfielders Randal Grichuk (22 percent) and Teoscar Hernandez (one percent).
Although certainly not a conventional bopper, Alex Verdugo brought a .300/.350/.481 slash line into the Los Angeles Dodgers' four-game series at Coors Field. The Colorado Rockies are scheduled to start righties in each of the next three games, which is great news for the left-handed rookie.
Tyler Glasnow, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
Investors have been without Tyler Glasnow since May 10, when he fractured his forearm in his eighth start of 2019. Considering his early-season dominance (1.86 ERA, 55 Ks in 48.1 IP), gamers had little choice but to wait patiently in hopes of him returning around the All-Star break.
That's no longer a possibility, though, as the Tampa Bay Rays will shut him down for three weeks following a recent setback. Per Eduardo A. Encina of the Tampa Bay Times, the 25-year-old could optimistically be looking at a mid-August return. Managers in a roster crunch may be better served using the spot to stream starters.
Merrill Kelly remains rostered in just 40 percent of Yahoo and ESPN leagues after ceding two runs with nine strikeouts Sunday against the San Francisco Giants. He gets a rematch against the feeble NL West foe Friday, this time at the cavernous Oracle Park.
The 30-year-old rookie may be proving more than a convenient matchup play. He wields a 2.36 ERA and 32 strikeouts in five starts this month. While he has mustered a middling 57.8 first-pitch strike and 9.5 swinging-strike rate this season, those marks have jumped to 65.4 and 12.0 percent, respectively, in June.
Since San Francisco sports MLB's second-lowest slugging percentage behind the Miami Marlins, keep exploiting their anemic lineup with a pair of San Diego Padres pitchers next week.
Rookie Logan Allen has started his career by allowing two runs in as many starts, tallying five strikeouts in each turn. While Eric Lauer is far less exciting, he'll host the Giants at Petco Park, where he has flourished with a 2.70 ERA.
Jordan Hicks, RP, St. Louis Cardinals and Blake Treinen, RP, Oakland Athletics
A pair of prominent closers have already gone down this week, creating a major loss for some and an opportunity for others to snag saves on the waiver wire.
Blake Treinen won fantasy leagues last year by registering a 0.78 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 80.1 innings. This year, he has a ghastly 1.53 WHIP with as many walks (21) relinquished in 45 fewer innings. He surrendered three runs without recording an out in his last appearance before the Oakland Athletics placed him on the injured list with a right shoulder strain.
Although described as mild, there's no timetable for his return. Liam Hendriks is the clear add, as he has registered Oakland's last two saves and lowered his ERA to 1.42 with 10 consecutive scoreless outings. His consensus rostered rate is still just 31 percent.
According to MLB.com's Martin Gallegos, A's manager Bob Melvin confirmed Hendriks as his new stopper while commending the 30-year-old's ascent up their bullpen hierarchy.
"He's moved all the way up from a guy that was pitching behind in games for the most part, and now he's got himself in the closer's role," Melvin said. "It's not easy to close a game when you haven't done it often, and against a pretty good lineup. That was impressive."
The St. Louis Cardinals suffered an even bigger blow to the back of their bullpen. Jordan Hicks will miss the remainder of 2019—and part of 2020—to repair a torn ACL by undergoing Tommy John surgery. Per Stu Durando and Rick Hummel of St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said Carlos Martinez will receive the vacated save opportunities.
John Gant, who drew praise from Mozeliak days earlier, is also worth adding in case he factors into the picture. Yet he's claimed in more leagues (48 percent) than Martinez (46 percent), who has notched a 3.00 ERA in relief this season.